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      The official U.S. sword regulations for 1832 dictated a yellow mounted small sword for medical staff - "Small sword, gilt hilt and mountings with black scabbard and belt." This regulation was in effect until 1840 and specimens of the medical sword are very rare. Specimens of the Pay Department sword are unheard of. The medical sword pictured in The American Sword 1775-1945 book by Peterson bears an etching of the bust of "Esculapius," an ancient physician, and it is labeled as such. The example in the book also bears the letters "U. S." surrounded by a wreath. Floral and military etchings are in evidence. 

     The U.S. Pay Department sword regulations use the same description: "Small sword, gilt hilt and mountings, black leather scabbard." The sword pictured on this web page does not have the markings as described for the medical staff sword. It is marked, on the obverse, "N.P. Ames/Cutler/Springfield" in 3 lines as opposed to the 2 line marking on the medical staff sword as described. 

     There is no U.S. markings. The carbon darkened blade is profusely etched. On the obverse side there is a liberty cap surmounting 2 crossed American flags with cannon and a seated eagle in a panoply of stars under a ribbon with "Liberty" on it. Floral designs separate the etchings. On the reverse side there is standing indian with lifted tomahawk (Tecumseh?), a shield with a stars and stripes design under a raised liberty cap and another seated eagle etching along with much floral designs. 

Obverse View of the hilt
Reverse View of the hilt
Top View of the hilt
Bottom View of the hilt
     By deduction, we are assuming this example to be a possible Pay Department (Paymaster) sword. It meets the regulations and it likely not a medical sword. Since 1832, the medical and pay departments have worn the same swords differing only in blade etchings and the letters MS or PD laid unto or cast into the hilt as with the Model of 1840. 

     The double-edged elliptical shaped blade is 30-5/16" in length. It is ¾" wide at the hilt and tapers evenly to it's point. The hilt, from the top of the blade nut to the bottom of the guard is 6-1/8" bringing the overall length to 36-7/16". The gripping area of the hilt is 4". The outside quillion to quillion measurement is 3-5/16". The shell counter guard is 3" across and extends outward, from the blade for 1½". 

     Please be aware that the 5 piece handle of this sword can be easily disassembled. There is a chance that the blade may have been reversed at one time. The obverse and reverse sides referred to in this write-up are based on the present assembly of the sword.

     The obverse side of a sword blade would be the side facing you, in an horizontal position, with the blade to your right and the hilt to your left. The side away from you would be the reverse.


Dave Radcliffe