MODEL 1840 MEDICAL STAFF SWORD AND SCABBARD BY HORSTMANN

$1,895.00

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Item Code: 1054-324

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The 1840 sword for officers of the Medical Staff was the regulation pattern for Surgeons and Assistant Surgeons throughout the Civil War. This included not only doctors posted to general hospitals and the like, but to the regimental surgeon and assistant surgeon (in 1862 increased to two assistant surgeons,) who were posted to line regiments and frequently served under fire.

This sword measures 34 inches overall and the hilt is the regulation small sword style hilt derived from some Virginia presentation swords of the 1830s and used on the US paymaster swords as well. The pommel is topped by an acorn/pineapple finial and shows long oval panels on either side, the reverse of which is correctly blank and the obverse filled with an eagle flanked by branches of a wreath. Below that the grip is thickly cast and chased in floral motifs seeming to spring out of a vase-shaped flowering bulb at the base of the grip.

The crossguard is equally ornate. The branches are formed as scrolling acanthus leaves. Shield-shaped langets extend downward from the quillon block. The reverse langet is blank. The obverse contains a silvered “MS” above a cluster of thirteen stars, all bordered by a bellflower garland.

As is regulation, the blade is oval in cross-section, without a fuller, double edged and with a spearpoint. The edge is excellent, with no nicks or chips. The point is good, with very slight rounding. The etching is very legible, for the most part showing as bright against a frosted background that is in some places muted to a light gray. The obverse has a floral motif under the langet with the firm name above, engraved in thin drypoint lettering, “Horstmann” in block letters and “Philadelphia” in script. Over that is an arched lattice work and floral sprays, leading up to a long central panel etched in a flowing script, “United States Medical Staff,” followed by more floral motifs rounding out the panel

The reverse shows the same arched latticework at the bottom, along with firm name and address again, surmounted by a spray of oak leaves over which is an American eagle with raised wings and an “E Pluribus Unum ribbon” overhead, surmounted by a panoply of arms, flags and halberd, above which vines and floral elements extend to the end of the etched panel.

The brass scabbard is in very good condition and shows great detail on the deeply cast and chased floral mounts at the throat, middle carrying ring, and drag. The brass shows uncleaned and dark in the recesses of the raised designs of the mounts, and a tad lighter on the smoother areas from handling. All the mounts are present, as are the correct two carrying rings at the throat and single ring on the middle mount.

Thillmann notes that as a long-time prewar merchant of military goods the Horstmann firm was likely able to produce many of the sword elements on its own, though it may have purchased the blades from other sources. In any case, the company was able to supply swords to newly commissioned medical officers from a very early date in the war. The pattern is very attractive and the sword is a key piece in a medical or edged weapons collection. It looks great when laid out with a surgeon’s green sash and pair of medical staff epaulets.  [sr]

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