RARE NON-REGULATION U.S. MODEL 1834 MEDICAL STAFF SWORD WITH PRESENTATION TO WILLIAM P. COWIE, 1ST MASSACHUSETTS INFANTRY

$4,000.00 SOLD

Quantity Available: None

Item Code: 870-323

This is a very scarce sword in beautiful condition, bearing a presentation to a Civil War soldier by his employer. This is a non-regulation version of the Model 1834 Medical Staff Sword by Ames, sometimes designated the Model 1832 from the year when the pattern, based on a French court sword, was first considered, and is similar to the small-sword pattern also adopted for the Engineers and Pay Department. This has somewhat more ornate hilt than the regulation pattern, sling rings as well as frog stud on the scabbard, and some differences in blade etching, but maintains its medical associations in a long caduceus portrayed in the etching on either side of the blade. The use of a medical sword for the presentation was particularly appropriate since the recipient worked for a wholesale drug company as druggist, clerk, and salesman.

The hilt preserves heavy gilding on the beaded pommel, knuckleguard, crossguard, quillons top and bottom, plain upturned “false” counterguard on the reverse and counterguard on the obverse. The counterguard is downturned and is detailed with a raised Eagle surrounded by a wreath and floral scrolls on a stippled background. The grip is silver, rectangular in cross section, with beaded edges reflecting the beading on the gilt brass elements.

The blade is elliptical in cross section and beautifully decorated with vivid etched panels on either side terminating with flame-like leafy ends to the frosting. The obverse shows floral scrolls, vine-entwined trophies of arms, and a 3-inch long caduceus or staff entwined by two snakes, which had become associated with the medical profession from a, perhaps slightly imperfect, understanding of Greek myth. The reverse has a dry-point etched, script “Ames Mfg. Co. / Chicopee / Mass” address on a scroll at the ricasso, with floral scrolls and a pair of crossed flags with a liberty cap on a pole between them, beneath an Ames style with raised with raised wings and sun rays overhead, over which is another caduceus.

The black leather scabbard a back seam and gilt mounts matching the hilt in color. The upper mount has a rounded end with foliate engraving that is matched by both ends of the middle mount and the upper end of the lower mount. The scabbard is fitted with two carrying rings and a top stud as well, which is leaf-shaped and foliate engraved to match the ends of the mounts. The scabbard is in excellent condition, with good color and surface. The mounts, like the hilt, preserve wonderful amounts of their original gilt finish.

The upper mount is inscribed on the reverse, “W.P. Cowie /from / Weeks & Potter.” William Perkins Cowie listed himself variously as druggist, salesman, and clerk in period records. He was born in 1840 and at the outbreak of the Civil War was working for Weeks and Potter in their store at 154 Washington Street in Boston, where they engaged in the wholesale drug business as sellers of patent medicines, etc.

Cowie enlisted on 5/23/61 and mustered into the 1st Massachusetts as the regiment’s Quartermaster Sergeant on 5/25/61. This was regarded as position not only requiring a strong moral character, given the opportunity for embezzlement, but a scrupulous attention to detailed bookkeeping, which his background in business may have testified to. He was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant of Co. F on 7/13/61 and was acting 1st Lieutenant of the company from 10/24/61 until the January/February muster roll when he is found as acting Quartermaster. On 7/12/62 he is appointed 1st Lieutenant, the appropriate rank for Quartermaster, but is then detached to act as Brigade Commissary of Subsistence on 7/17/62 and he received a discharge from the regiment to accept a promotion to Captain and Commissary of Subsistence of Volunteers on 9/10/62. He established a good record for himself, receiving brevets to Major and Lieutenant Colonel for meritorious service in his department during the war and mustered out 3/20/66. During his service with the 1st Massachusetts they saw early action at Blackburn’s Ford just before Bull Run, substantial action in the Peninsular Campaign at Yorktown, Williamsburg, Fair Oaks, and Nelson’s Farm, as well as at Second Bull Run. He moved to California after the war. We find him in San Francisco, married and a “clerk to a druggist.” He died there July 10, 1871. Whether his body was returned east is unclear, but there is a grave stone for him in his hometown of Fairhaven, Mass.

For a collector of American swords, this is a very hard pattern to find. This one is in stellar condition and has an interesting personal and service history as well.  [sr]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

THIS ITEM, AS WITH ALL OTHER ITEMS AVAILABLE ON OUR WEB SITE,

MAY BE PURCHASED THROUGH OUR LAYAWAY PROGRAM.

FOR OUR POLICIES AND TERMS,

CLICK ON ‘CONTACT US’ AT THE TOP OF ANY PAGE ON THE SITE,

THEN ON ‘LAYAWAY POLICY’.

THANK YOU!

Inquire About RARE NON-REGULATION U.S. MODEL 1834 MEDICAL STAFF SWORD WITH PRESENTATION TO WILLIAM P. COWIE, 1ST MASSACHUSETTS INFANTRY

should be empty

featured item

VIRGINIA BELT BUCKLE

Face of brass plate has the state seal of Virginia in great detail with a nice rich green patina. High areas still retain original gilt. Slight verdigris is present on some areas. Plate measures 2” x 2 ¾”.  Reverse with saudered hooks is… (215-16). Learn More »

Upcoming Events

24
Oct