VERY HIGH-GRADE AMES 1860 PATTERN STAFF OFFICER’S SWORD

$3,950.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 870-400

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This presentation grade Ames 1860 Pattern Staff Officer’s Sword has the superior design and finish of Ames’ highest quality work, with all the decorative elements deeply cast, chased by hand, and gilded. This includes a very unusual quillon finial in the shape of Greco-Roman warrior’s head, an element shared by a sword made for General Grant, and here used as an extension of the four deeply cast, chased and gilt warrior heads on the pommel cap, two viewed in profile and two frontal. The sides of the coach-lantern shaped pommel have a blank shield-shaped plaque on the reverse and U.S. eagle on the obverse. The knucklebow, uses acanthus scrolls or raffles at top and a central flower motif from which dart out coiled lightning bolts, which is standard for the pattern, and splits at bottom, one branch continuing on to form the crossguard and quillon, the other extending to the obverse counterguard, which bears an American eagle with arrows and olive branch superimposed on a panoply of flags, all in high relief. As is correct for the pattern, the eagle does not have a shield on its chest and the folding reverse counterguard is plain.

By regulation this pattern was to have a black horn grip, which is actually seldom seen. Even an ordnance-accepted example has merely the conventional sharkskin. In this case the grip is tortoise shell, which comes very near the regulation and is probably prettier, and is bound with gilt “dragoon twist” wire. Foliate ferrules are placed at top and bottom. The amount of gilt remaining on the hilt is remarkable. There is just slight wear at some high points or slight discoloration at the joints, at the fork of the knucklebow or base of quillon terminal and recesses of the ferrules.

The blade is arris-shaped and features Ames’ highest-grade etching in 24-inch long frosted panels on either side. The etching is very visible and the obverse carries the firm name at bottom, “Ames Mfg. Co. / Chicopee / Mass,” with delicately etched, intricate floral scrolls, vine-entwined military motifs, latticework,  and pointed arches, with a typically Ames American Eagle and an “E Pluribus Unum” banner over head with scrolling floral extensions. The reverse has similar etched motifs but with a U.S. in a banner with scrolling floral ends. Needless to say, the edge and point are perfect.

The scabbard is blued steel with cast, chased, and gilt brass mounts that feature a standing classical warrior on the top mount and symmetrical C-scrolls and flaring leaves on the middle and lower mounts, the latter of which also features an applied branch of oak leaves. The upper mount has two carrying rings and the middle mount, one. The bluing retains its original color without oxidizing toward plum. It does have some scattered freckling to the surface. Like the hilt, the scabbard mounts retain most of their gilding. There is some slight rubbing on the reverse, one minor ding on the scabbard body and a couple on the drag, showing the sword was actually carried, though obviously by an officer who took very good care of it.

Adopted for officers “of the general staff and staff corps” in 1860, this pattern was also used by general officers. It has been the subject of some confusion because of Peterson’s designation of it as a, “staff and field officer’s sword,” and from postwar versions that became the regulation “staff and line officer’s sword” from 1872 to 1902, seeing wide use in the regular army, national guard, veteran and fraternal organizations, etc. Interested parties are referred to Thillmann’s Civil War Army Swords, chapt. 17, pages 425-460 for a full discussion of the pattern, variations, and changes that distinguish later versions. This is a superior example that you are not likely to upgrade.  [sr]

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