Napoleonic Wars Forum

The Napoleonic Wars 1792-1815

American War of 1812 silver mounted officer's saber

For all discussions relating to military weapons and tactics of the Napoleonic period.

American War of 1812 silver mounted officer's saber

Postby ronn » September 11th, 2011, 7:23 pm

Here is an American officer's sword of the War of 1812 period. The silver mounted saber configuration conforms to the regulations for officers of both Light Dragoons (1808 and 1810) and Infantry (1813); it was called a dragoon officer's saber when I found it and likely is from the length of the blade, but probably better to say one or the other to avoid argument. The plain bird's head backstrap and reverse-P guard are either silver or heavily plated - now all black with tarnish, and the leather wrapped wood grip wound with silver wire. Though plated iron is far more likely for the hilt, the black Japanned iron scabbard is fitted with what appear simple solid silver suspension bands and rings and chape that are also much tarnished. These look a great deal like the ones on the sword of Captain Mordecai Myers, 13th U.S. Infantry (see "Uniforms and Equipment of the United States Forces in the War of 1812" by Rene Chartrand). The blade is interesting in that it is etched with a quaint folk depiction of an American flag and script "US of A" rather than the far more common Federal eagle motif; this to me may imply ownership by a regular officer rather than one serving with a state militia company. It is in good condition, withoout nicks and having never been sharpened. Even so, proof of actual service is evidenced by old wear to the leather grip wrap and an ancient break in the scabbard below the lower silver band. This last is not an uncommon occurance on these old warhorses. The sword came out of an New England estate a number of years ago, and I hope might someday be linked to a specific American cutler or military goods purveyor.. Ron
Attachments
AMSA1.JPG
AMSA1.JPG (153.31 KiB) Viewed 1126 times
AMSB.JPG
AMSB.JPG (154.26 KiB) Viewed 1126 times
AMSC1.JPG
AMSC1.JPG (145.14 KiB) Viewed 1126 times
AMSD1.JPG
AMSD1.JPG (146.89 KiB) Viewed 1126 times
Last edited by ronn on September 12th, 2011, 4:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
ronn
New Member
 
Posts: 49
Joined: July 6th, 2011, 5:48 pm

Re: American War of 1812 silver mounted officer's saber

Postby Mark » September 11th, 2011, 9:46 pm

Interesting sword, Ron! Thanks for posting!

Mark
Mark Simner BA (Hons) MSc | Web: http://marksimner.me.uk | Twitter @marksimner
User avatar
Mark
Forum Administrator
 
Posts: 2949
Joined: May 12th, 2011, 7:52 pm
Location: United Kingdom

Re: American War of 1812 silver mounted officer's saber

Postby ronn » September 16th, 2011, 2:08 am

Hi Mark, the field sword of a junior officer, elevated by the silver fittings. You would think something so simple would be fairly common, but looking around they are fairly thin on the ground. Most of my small collection of 18th and 19th Century American swords was sold off some years ago, but I kept this along with a few others as representational examples of their time. I also had a nice M1813 Nathan Starr dragoon saber (an untouched attic find with most of the japanning on the scabbard, about ninety percent of the leather grip wrap present and with the original surface finish, and the original finish also still on the blade) to pair with this, but it went. Ron
ronn
New Member
 
Posts: 49
Joined: July 6th, 2011, 5:48 pm

Re: American War of 1812 silver mounted officer's saber

Postby Jonathan » September 16th, 2011, 2:31 pm

Ron,
That is a great sword! I have not seen the US of A decoration before. An interesting contrast to the GR of its British counterparts.

Jonathan
User avatar
Jonathan
New Member
 
Posts: 82
Joined: May 14th, 2011, 4:27 pm
Location: Wisconsin, USA

Re: American War of 1812 silver mounted officer's saber

Postby wendigrizz » December 22nd, 2011, 4:15 am

Ron,
I was very happy to see your sword pictures because at first I thought it was one of mine in my collection. Your sword is identical to mine which I purchased last year at Baltimore from a well known collector. The same person made mine and yours. US of A blade, iron scabbard with silver mounts, same hilt with silver plating and wire. Mine is only missing the suspension rings on the scabbard and my blade markings are a little fainter than yours but still there. The hilt is actually silver plated as there is some wear on mine. Amazing. I believe that these were dragoon officer sabers that predate the Starr officer Saber contract of 1814. I have numerous US of A bladed sabers and one spadroon. They are far scarcer than the eagle motiffs and a direct derivative of the British GR blades. I would date these swords anywhere from 1805 to no later than 1815. Most likely british imports.
Chris
wendigrizz
New Member
 
Posts: 4
Joined: December 22nd, 2011, 4:07 am

Re: American War of 1812 silver mounted officer's saber

Postby ronn » December 27th, 2011, 1:02 am

wendigrizz wrote:Ron,
I was very happy to see your sword pictures because at first I thought it was one of mine in my collection. Your sword is identical to mine which I purchased last year at Baltimore from a well known collector. The same person made mine and yours. US of A blade, iron scabbard with silver mounts, same hilt with silver plating and wire. Mine is only missing the suspension rings on the scabbard and my blade markings are a little fainter than yours but still there. The hilt is actually silver plated as there is some wear on mine. Amazing. I believe that these were dragoon officer sabers that predate the Starr officer Saber contract of 1814. I have numerous US of A bladed sabers and one spadroon. They are far scarcer than the eagle motiffs and a direct derivative of the British GR blades. I would date these swords anywhere from 1805 to no later than 1815. Most likely british imports.
Chris

Hi Chris, and thanks for the post! With the holiday season I haven't checked in here for awhile, so just read this. Your comments are intriguing and it's good to know there is at least one other of these still extant. It could be a British import, but if so than prior to 1813 - the Embargo Acts and ultimately the state of war would have pretty much pinched off all legal trade with Britain. There was a good deal of smuggling in New England and especially Maine during the period, but I don't think too many swords would have floated through that way. Did yours come with any provenance from that collector? Ron
ronn
New Member
 
Posts: 49
Joined: July 6th, 2011, 5:48 pm

Re: American War of 1812 silver mounted officer's saber

Postby wendigrizz » December 28th, 2011, 5:20 am

Ron,
No more provenance, but I forgot to mention that although the blade was imported, either from the UK or Germany prior to the war, the hilt is 100% American as well as the scabbard. Hilt is a Maryland style birds-head pommel with reverse P knucklebow. Hilt is typical of the enlisted Baltimore style pommels of the period, the only variance being that all metal parts of the hilt are iron that has been Sheffield plated along with silver plated iron wire around the grip. The silver plate is very heavy with 90% intact. Knuckle bow is pierced for a sword knot. The wooden grip has traces of the original leather wrap and all 6 strands of the silver plated iron wire remaining. The scabbard is japanned iron with Sheffield plated bands around where the suspension rings were (rings missing) and Sheffield plate on the iron drag. 90% of the silver plate remains on the scabbard bands. The blade has a wide central fuller and the obverse is etched with “US of A” in script along with an American flag and other military motifs. The reverse is engraved with a halberd and military trophies. The blade would have been blued and gilded but none of it remains. Blade is 33” long and 38” overall.
Chris
wendigrizz
New Member
 
Posts: 4
Joined: December 22nd, 2011, 4:07 am

Re: American War of 1812 silver mounted officer's saber

Postby ronn » December 30th, 2011, 8:01 pm

Chris, I said New England estate provenance for mine, but it might have actually been New York; I've had it for awhile, so would need to go back and find my notes to be absolutely sure...whatever the case, it wasn't Maryland. Saying that I know the style to which you refer and agree this fits, so the original owner may have been a Regular officer who purchased it further south. Mine also has only remnants of the leather grip wrap, but all the silver plating (if such be the case) on hilt and scabbard fittings is there. They are almost completely black with tarnish. Ron
ronn
New Member
 
Posts: 49
Joined: July 6th, 2011, 5:48 pm

Re: American War of 1812 silver mounted officer's saber

Postby wendigrizz » December 30th, 2011, 10:52 pm

Ron,
To feel more confident in the silver plate theory all you have to do is get a magnet. If it sticks to the knucklebow you have a silver plated Iron hilt. If not it's either solid silver or plated brass. My $ is on silver plated iron. As far as where it was found, we are finding swords all over the place from where they were made. For instance, War of 1812 swords have been found in Canada due to the campaigns there, but I even bought a Rose 1807 in Canada from a former southern family who left the south after the civil war for Canada. In addition, many swords made in the south are found in the north because of the campaigns along the way. Some contracts for swords to NY and PA coming from elsewhere. Also, much of what we refer to as Maryland style hilts are made in the PA area. Many workers employed under different contracts (e.g. Henry, Prahl, Rose, Pettibone, Starr, Nippes, etc) moved back and forth. Review of the many existing specimens is starting to reveal some patterns developing. For instance, we find that whoever hilted some Prahl sabers also hilted some Rose sabers, leaving some to believe that some of the hilters left Prahl after his company folded and went to work for Rose. There is also a connection to the VA Manufactory sabers. When you lay out all the contracts you begin to see where some of the workers left one place and joined in another. Anyways, alot of fun to find new examples. Federal period sabers vary so much as compared to the standard assembly production of civil war sabers.
Happy New Year,
Chris P.S. are you going to the Baltimore Show this year?
wendigrizz
New Member
 
Posts: 4
Joined: December 22nd, 2011, 4:07 am

Re: American War of 1812 silver mounted officer's saber

Postby ronn » January 1st, 2012, 10:26 pm

Hi Chris, and thanks for this further information. I tried a magnetized screwdriver tip on the hilt and feel the pull, so plated iron. No pull on the scabbard bands and rings or drag; there is absolutely no brass showing anywhere, just heavily tarnished silver. A question...should the silver be cleaned? I would never touch old brass patination on a sword hilt, but what is the general protocol with silver? I ask because I'm sure they were kept clean during the period and likely later when displayed in some family home. Of course that is probably true with brass, but I've never been a shiny brass advocate. No Baltimore for me I'm afraid - I'd love to see that show, but no longer actively collect American militaria. I do still have a few interesting swords. Do you concentrate on War of 1812, or does your interest go forward or back before that period? Ron
ronn
New Member
 
Posts: 49
Joined: July 6th, 2011, 5:48 pm

Next

Return to Weapons & Tactics

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 1 guest