Prints and printmaking, £12.99
Length: 38.000 cm
Bequeathed by Col. A. Martin Leake, V.C. (1953)
Room 46: Europe 1400-1800
Presentation sword made for the Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Strasbourg, France, AD 1763
Presented to Stephen Martin Leake, Garter King of Arms
This sword was presented by Adolphus Frederick, 4th Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (brother of Queen Charlotte) to Stephen Martin Leake on the occasion of the Duke's investiture at Strelitz with the Order of the Garter.
The sword has a gold hilt, a blued steel blade and kid-leather scabbard. It is a rare survival of its period, as most gold hilts were melted down for the value of the metal. The elaborate chasing and rococo motifs on the hilt are typical of goldsmith's work produced at this time in the German princely states. Soldingen in Westphalia had a huge export trade in sword blades which were mounted up by sword cutlers using their own hilts. In this instance the hilt bears the maker's marks of Jean-Frédéric Büttner of Strasbourg.
The 'blueing' of steel could be achieved in two ways: the first is by heat treatment of the steel, known as 'tempering'. The second, more reliable method, is to dip the object into a chemical solution made up of caustic soda and saltpetre, followed by immersion first in cold then hot water. The blades were usually etched with stylized designs then blued and gilt. Blueing was frequently used to colour steel as it provided a vivid contrast to any gilt decoration. Most armour was blued, but over-cleaning has removed it.