British Handkerchief Cutter, 19th Century
19th century Wilkinson Handkerchief cutter sword with shagreen grip and an un-associated scabbard, 100 cm in length.
Used in The Great Handkerchief Wars. Also used for sword feats to demonstrate cutting skill and blade sharpness. Sword feats were often incorporated into a larger “Assault of Arms” which would also feature fencing with various swords, singlesticks, and bayonets.
They were used to cut lead bars. Lead cutting was a sword feat which could entertain an audience at an assault-at-arms, but it could also help with training as it helped to teach edge alignment. The excerpts below are from Every Boy’s Book of Sport and Pastime, edited by Professor Hoffmann, 1897.
The phrase “Assault at (or ‘of’) Arms” was coined in the early 19th century to describe displays of skill-at-arms performed as public entertainment. Many of these events combined competition with showmanship; some were strictly competitive and others pure ballyhoo. All were influential in the development of Victorian combat sports, self-defence systems and military close-quarter battle techniques.