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TWO BIG STRAIGHT SWORDS OF A DIFFERENT ILK!

 

     Not all U.S. swords can be found in books. There are always those specimens that languish in closets, museum storage spaces, on dealer's tables or in private collections that have no names or no absolute known time of manufacture or usage. Some are beautiful, others are not so beautiful.  I have at least two such swords and will share their mysteries with you. The first sword, due the blade shape and engraving, is believed to be a militia staff officer's sword (variant) of the Mexican War period. (1845-1850). However, It could just as well been carried in the American Civil War. Supposedly, it was at one time displayed in the Lincoln, Nebraska state house. Museum numbers are on the obverse of the scabbard and on the side of the hilt grip. There are no maker marks anywhere on the blade, hilt or scabbard.

 


 

PART ONE - SWORD 1

 

MILITIA STAFF OFFICER'S SWORD (VARIANT) 1840-1850

MILITIA STAFF OFFICER'S SWORD (VARIANT) 1840-1850

 

     This sword is 37-7/8" overall with a blade length of 31-3/4".  The straight blade is double edged and tapers evenly to a point.  It is elliptical in section. At the hilt it is 1-1/8" wide. A narrow center fuller 5/32" wide starts 1-1/2" from the hilt and extends for 11". The first two thirds of the blade is blued extending to floral scroll decorations at the end. The reverse is decorated with etched floral sprays and scrolls above and below a U.S. eagle holding arrows in one talon and an olive branch in the other. The eagles head is turned to the arrows. The obverse is similarly engraved except for a military trophy design replacing the eagle. There are actually five distinct panels on each side.  Three of the panels are done in gilt etchings and there are two, one time bright, panels with floral sprays outlined by the blued finish.

 

     Following are the blade's gilt etchings:

 

LOWER ENGRAVING - OBVERSE

LOWER ENGRAVING - OBVERSE

 

UPPER ENGRAVING - OBVERSE

UPPER ENGRAVING - OBVERSE

 

MILITARY TROPHY ENGRAVING - OBVERSE

MILITARY TROPHY ENGRAVING - OBVERSE

 


 

LOWER ENGRAVING - REVERSE

LOWER ENGRAVING - REVERSE

 

UPPER ENGRAVING - REVERSE

UPPER ENGRAVING - REVERSE

 

U.S. EAGLE ENGRAVING - OBVERSE

U.S. EAGLE ENGRAVING - OBVERSE

 


 

     The 5-7/8" hilt has shield shaped langets 1-7/8" long and 1" wide at the top. The ebony wood faced tapering grip plaques are framed on each side with engraved  panels of silver plated brass. There is a small rectangular silver plate with clipped corners inlaid into the obverse plaque. "FX" has been scratched into it. At the base of the grips there is a banded German silver ferrule. The engraved stepped rounded pommel cap is also silver plated brass. It is attached to the cross quillons by a sturdy double linked chain. The 1-7/8" brass cross quillons flare outward and have sunken panels in their centers with floral scrolling heavily cast into them. The shield shaped langets have vertical stripes topped by a horizontal row of four stars. The 1-3/8" panel casting over the langets and between the cross quillons appears to represent the rising sun.

 

OBVERSE VIEW OF HILT

OBVERSE VIEW OF HILT

 

REVERSE VIEW OF HILT

REVERSE VIEW OF HILT

 

VIEW OF  TOP SIDE OF GRIP

VIEW OF  TOP SIDE OF GRIP

 

VIEW OF BOTTOM SIDE OF GRIP

VIEW OF BOTTOM SIDE OF GRIP

 

 
MUSEUM/EXHIBIT NUMBER AND SILVER INLAY WITH "FX"

MUSEUM/EXHIBIT NUMBER AND SILVER INLAY WITH "FX"

 

TOP VIEW OF POMMEL

TOP VIEW OF POMMEL

 

SIDE VIEW LANGETS

SIDE VIEW LANGETS

 


 

     The heavy brass scabbard is 32-9/16" long. It has both a frog stud and carrying rings. The two 1-1/8" diameter opposing brass rings are centered 2-17/16" from the scabbard mouth. The 7/8" x 5/8" oval frog stud centers at 2-1/4" from the mouth of the scabbard. The scabbard throat is missing. The scabbard has basically three engraved panels on the obverse featuring floral designs and scrolling. The museum/display number is also in evidence. There is no engraving or marking on the reverse side.

 

OBVERSE VIEW OF SWORD IN SCABBARD

OBVERSE VIEW OF SWORD IN SCABBARD

 

REVERSE VIEW OF SWORD IN SCABBARD

REVERSE VIEW OF SWORD IN SCABBARD

 

UPPER MIDDLE ENGRAVED PANEL

UPPER MIDDLE ENGRAVED PANEL
(NOTE MUSEUM/EXHIBIT NUMBER)
(Obverse)

 

LOWER MIDDLE ENGRAVED PANEL

LOWER MIDDLE ENGRAVED PANEL
(Obverse)

 

LOWER ENGRAVED PANEL & DRAG

LOWER ENGRAVED PANEL & DRAG
(Obverse)

 

SCABBARD RINGS - REVERSE VIEW

SCABBARD RINGS - REVERSE VIEW

 


 

     Next week we will look at PART TWO - SWORD 2. It is another big straight sword of a different ilk. It is a reverse "P" guard sword with a bird's head pommel. This one is marked "W. H. HORSTMANN & CO." on the obverse blade and "NEW YORK" on the reverse. A preview picture follows:

 

MILITIA  OFFICER'S SWORD BY W. H. HORSTMANN & COMPANY

MILITIA  OFFICER'S SWORD BY W. H. HORSTMANN & COMPANY

 


 

     No reference books were brought into play for this weeks posting as none of my books made reference to this sword. It is most likely one of a kind. Who made it, who used it and when, are questions that may never be accurately answered. It is something for sword collectors to muse about.  Mexican War? Civil War?  Or peace time only?

 

     However, credits must still go to my son and webmaster, Reed Radcliffe, for getting this copy and the pictures on to my web page.

 

Dave Radcliffe