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A MYSTERY PRESENTATION U.S. MODEL 1840 MEDICAL STAFF SWORD

 

Overall obverse views of sword in and out of scabbard

 

Overall obverse views of sword in and out of scabbard
Overall obverse views of sword in and out of scabbard

 

     This sword is 35-3/8" overall. The hilt is 5-3/4" and the 29-5/8" blade measures 3/4" in width at the hilt.

 


 

THE INSCRIPTION MYSTERY

 

     The beautiful sword scabbard is inscribed, on the reverse, lengthwise: "Presented / TO / M.F. Linquist M.D./ by his personal friends / as a token of regard"  Next to that, inscribed between vertical inscriptions of "Committee" and "Sept 8th 1861", are inscribed, one under the other, the names "R.S. Dunham, G.W. Dunham, J.H. Embree, S.S. Wendell, E.C. Serviss and N.O. Benjamin".

 

Overall View of Inscription
Overall View of Inscription

 

Presented To Inscription
Presented To Inscription 
Presented From Inscription
Presented From Inscription

     The mystery is in the inscription.  I can find no references in military records to M.F. Linquist (or Linguist, or Lindquist) M.D. Neither have I found any references for any members of the committee. Who was this Doctor? Who were his friends?  The sword is in very fine condition. Was it ever really carried?  Did the Doctor ever serve?  For now it's a mystery. Maybe some day I will find out, I hope so.

 


 

THE SCABBARD

 

      The scabbard is gilded brass. The center of the 2-1/2" long upper band is 2-3/8" from the throat.  It is decorated with geometric and floral designs and bears 2 opposing carrying (suspension) rings.  The 5-3/16" long middle band is 7-1/4", center to center, from the upper band. It has similar decorations and a single carrying ring.  The 6" long drag is decorated with a spray of oak leaves and acorns. The bands and drag are each separate pieces of molded gilded brass that have been slid onto the scabbard. They are secured by screws on the reverse of the scabbard.

 

Top Band & Carrying Rings
Top Band & Carrying Rings
(Obverse View)
Middle Band with Carrying Ring
Middle Band with Carrying Ring
(Obverse View)

Scabbard Drag
Scabbard Drag
(Obverse View)

 


 

THE HILT

 

     The hilt is comprised of 4 separate gilded brass castings:  the acorn shaped pommel, the grip, a decorative spacer between the grip and the cross guard and the cross guard itself with cast in shields. The grip is molded with acanthus leaves and decorative incising. On the obverse is a oval medallion featuring an American eagle. A similar, but plain oval is on the reverse. An engraving of the owner's choice can be added here, such as his name or initials.  The acorn shaped pommel is actually a nut that secures the hilt to the tang of the sword blade. The guard consists of two graceful scrolled quillons 4-3/8" across decorated in an overlapping leaf motif, with two 1-1/2"x 1-5/8" langet shields - one on each side. The reverse shield is plain with a raised border. The obverse shield bears the cast in letters of "MS" in old English script above 12 stars with all being encircled by laurel sprays.

 

Obverse View
Obverse View

 

Reverse View
Reverse View

 

Close Up Of Shield Langet
Close Up Of Shield Langet
(MS - Medical Staff)

 

Close Up Of Eagle
Close Up Of Eagle

 


 

THE BLADE

 

     The straight 29-5/8" 2 sided blade is elliptical in cross section. It tapers evenly from it's 3/4" width at the hilt to a point.  There are no grooves or fullers.  The blade is decorated on the reverse with a standing stemmed flower and leaves at the bottom of the blade, and above that an American eagle holding a ribbon in his beak within which is "E PLURIBUS / UNUM".  Above the ribbon is a stand of military trophies, topped by an arrangement of oak leaves.   On the obverse, there is a similar standing flower arrangement at the bottom of the blade (with some pitting).  Above that in script, in an extended  panel, is "United States Medical Staff" under an arrangement of oak leaves.

 

"United States Medical Staff" Engraving
"United States Medical Staff" Engraving
(On Obverse - Center Panel )

 

Standing Flower - Obverse
Standing Flower - Obverse
(Bottom of Blade - Pitted)

 

Oak Leaves - Obverse
Oak Leaves - Obverse
(Top of Blade)

 

Eagle & Ribbon - Reverse

 

Eagle & Ribbon - Reverse
(Lower Center)

 

Standing Flower - Reverse
Standing Flower - Reverse
(Bottom of Blade)

 

Oak Leaves - Reverse
Oak Leaves - Reverse
(Top of Blade)

 

Stand Of Arms - Reverse
Stand Of Arms - Reverse
(Upper Center)
 


 

THE SWORD

 

     This Medical Staff sword design was adopted in 1840. It remained regulation for medical officers of the United States Army for 62 years with minor variations.  The earlier specimens, such as this sword, had somewhat heavy blades elliptical in cross section. Post Civil War production is marked by light frail blades, diamond shaped in cross section. The blade etching went from the robust relatively shallow etching of the 1840's and 50's to lighter and more detailed etching with dulled backgrounds in later years.

 

     These swords are highly collectable and in demand be they Civil war pre, or post.

 

     The presentation sword pictured and described herein has no maker's name or trade mark.  The only markings are a small number "6" just below the throat on the scabbard reverse and a somewhat large irregular "21" on the obverse inside tang along with a hard to decipher stamping on the reverse tang that appears to be "GBST."  The latter 2 stampings can only be seen by removing the pommel screw and the remaining 3 pieces of the hilt.

 


 

     The American Sword 1775-1945 by Harold Peterson was the primary reference used for this posting. The webmaster responsible for posting the write-ups and associated pictures to this web page is my son, Reed Radcliffe. Without his expertise and help this posting would never get here.

 

Dave Radcliffe