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Title Tula smallsword, cut steel
Nationality Russian
Period c 1770
 (This item is subject to special postage, click here for more information.)

This sword (almost identical to one I sold to a Moscow dealer in about 2006) has an unsigned Tula hilt - undercut and pierced steel work of this type is a virtual 'signature', only found on European cast silver hilts and never on the knuckle bow. The influence for this work is probably Brescian or possibly Toledo, with London for the lattice work.

The blade (80 cms and 97.5 cms overall, weight 369 grams) is of the Colichemarde type (squeezed blade), hollow-ground construction. The 20th-century scabbard (weight 156 grams) is of black calf leather with silver mounts.

The condition of the hilt is superb, with most of the original iron-grey finish. It would originally have been a bright finish, I suspect, and has dulled down over the centuries. The blade has its original point, which would not appear to have been shortened by any noticeable degree, including the last half-inch of trapezoid section on one side with the extension of the fuller on the other.

For references to this type of sword, see 'Treasures of the Moscow Kremlin' (1998, page 142 - inventory number 89); also 'Russian Arms & Armour' (Aurora Press, 1982 - Kremlin inv no 6053); lastly, 'Fine Arms from Tula' (Aurora Press, 1977 - St Petersburg inv no 3.0.6801). All three examples have a trophy of arms motif to the guard and pommel, but the work is identical to that of mine. The blades of all three are signed 'Tula' and dated 1769 at the forte. (The retired head of metalwork at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, has confirmed that, in his opinion, this is Tula work. A copy of his personal letter to me would be available to the purchaser.)

The London influence (lattice work) can be seen on a silver smallsword by John Radbourn, purchased in 1995 by the Metropolitan Museum and illustrated in their 'Arms and Armor - notable acquisitions 1991-2002'.

If you want to comment on this item—re quality, age, etc—please email me.

[Edged Weapons : Swords : Russian : 18th Century]


[From a vendor, rather than a buyer]

I'm delighted that you are happy with the badge and I hope you can sell it to someone who will value owning it.

I tried to sell it on eBay but they won't accept Nazi items. I then contacted several dealers via a Google search who mostly offered me 40-50 after some haggling. Most of the other dealers tried to conceal its true value in their replies and also lacked manners which doesn't inspire confidence.

Ultimately it's about trust. I should think that most prospective sellers have done their own research and therefore know roughly what their item is worth. You were the only dealer who had the integrity to concede that my valuation was approximately correct and I respect your comment that you can't offer this as you need to make a profit. Your honest approach is greatly appreciated and I felt comfortable taking the risk in sending it to you.

Thank you for a smooth transaction

C D, UK, 01.07.2015

Bayonets arived today and as always they're great. Thanks again.

G D, UK, 02.12.2011