1860 STAFF OFFICER’S SWORD PUBLISHED IN US ARMY SWORDS

$975.00

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Item Code: 809-95

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The 1860 staff officer’s sword was occasionally used by general officers as well, leading to the mistaken nomenclature of, “Staff and Field Officer’s Sword.” Many staff officers, and generals, carried the 1850 patterns, but in 1872 a version of this pattern became the “Staff and Line Officer’s Sword” and remained regulation until 1902. Civil War versions, like this one, are scarce. See, Thillmann, US Army Swords, pages 425 and following for an in-depth discussion of the type. This very sword is illustrated and discussed on pages 455-56.

Although unmarked, this sword is certainly a Solingen product and likely sold through Horstmann in Philadelphia. (One hint is the long Horstmann style scabbard drag.) The brass elements of the hilt are finely cast and chased, and have significant gilt remaining. The pommel has the shield and eagle on its faces and a flower petal with raised dot ends on the cap. The guard has the usual symmetrical cast elements with a six-pointed flower petal at center. The ferrules, however, are cast and chased with rope and beading designs. The grip is horn, which is regulation, but also uses a coiled binding wire. The counterguard has a deeply cast and chased American eagle superimposed on flanking flags.

The reverse guard is plain, and shows rubbing to the gilt, and is folding, as is normal, but makes use of an unusual flat spring (bearing the Roman numeral “VIII”) to hold the guard in position rather than the common coiled spring and button. This necessitates the uses of a raised, rounded housing on the underside of the guard and a short flat-ground section at the base of the oval blade on either side.

The frosted panels of etching are similar on either side of the blade and very visible, beginning with a palmette at base, a stand of arms including flags above, scrolling floral motifs, an American eagle with E Pluribus Unum ribbon, a second section of floral scrolls, finishing with a second panoply of arms and flags. Both frosted panels terminate at the upper ends with an oak leaf edged pattern. The blade has a good point and edge, and is bright metal above the etched portion.

The scabbard is finished brown, in very good condition, with gilt mounts. The top mount bears a single carrying ring and the lower mount has a long “boot-style” drag mount associated with Horstmann retailed swords.

Wartime examples of this pattern, like this one, are scarce and form a subcategory for collectors. As well as being intimately involved with day-to-day duties in running the army, the officers carrying these swords often performed critical tasks on the battlefield, bearing messages and delivering orders under fire, without the satisfaction of shooting back.  [sr]

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