Josiah Wedgwood (English, 1730-1795 )
steel, faceted, burnished, blued and gilded with iron and Jasper ware
overall length: 91.4 cm (36 in); blade length: 73 cm (28 3/4 in.)
The John Woodman Higgins Collection
This superb sword is both costume accessory and witness to industrial history. Boulton and Wedgwood were two of the leading figures in the Industrial Revolution; Boulton also worked with James Watt in developing the steam engine. Boulton's civilian dress swords were among the first to be factory-made. Earlier small-swords with false gems inspired the use of cut-steel faceted beads resembling diamonds. The English became masters of the technique, also used on jewelry, buttons and buckles. By the 1780s, Wedgwood and Boulton were fitting such steel articles with jasperware plaques with neoclassical designs inspired by those discovered in Roman and Etruscan ruins.