Eighteenth-century gentlemen and officers wore smallswords on dress and ceremonial occasions as part of formal civilian attire, or as part of their uniform. George Washington owned several of these jewel-like, lightweight weapons. This particular one, with an ornately engraved three-sided hollow blade, is distinguished by being depicted in Charles Willson Peale's 1772 portrait of Washington as a Virginia colonel. Washington is also believed to have worn it when he resigned his commission as Commander in Chief in Annapolis in 1783 and when inaugurated as our nation's first president on April 30, 1789. More


c. 1767




Steel (blade); silver, gilt, wood (hilt); wood, vellum, silver (scabbard)


Overall (Overall length): 44 3/4 in. (113.67 cm)
Overall (Blade length): 33 7/8 in. (86.04 cm)


Gift of John Pierpont Morgan, Sr. 1909
Conservation courtesy of the Life Guard Society of Historic Mount Vernon


Four stamps on the knucklebow’s terminus on the inner side: lion's head, leopard's head (London assay marks); "A R" (maker's mark); "M" in an incuse shield (date letter). Stamped with a lion passant on the shell guard before the blade (difficult to see amidst the faceted decoration).

Object Number



Mount Vernon's object research is ongoing and information about this object is subject to change. For information on image use and reproductions, click here.
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