EXCELLENT U.S. MODEL 1840 LIGHT ARTILLERY OFFICER’S SABER WITH MINTY ETCHED BLADE

$19,000.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 870-635

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This pattern was introduced in 1840 for all mounted officers other than cavalry, but with the introduction of the 1850 patterns it was limited to officers of light artillery, making it very scarce. On top being a very hard to find pattern, this one is in superb condition, with a minty blade showing a mirror finish and vivid etching, and a hilt preserving much of its original gilt finish and excellent sharkskin grip with triple wire binding. Thillmann only records four makers of the pattern: Ames, Schnitzler and Kirschbaum, Roby, and Hortsmann. This example is unmarked, a private purchase, and likely a special order. Our best guess is that it is an S&K product imported by a commercial military goods dealer.

One feature hinting at a special order is the shallow-domed gilt brass cap with stippled edge on the pommel used to conceal the blade tang. The rest of the hilt follows the standard, regulation pattern with laurel leaves cast and chased in recessed channel along the edge of the pommel. The knucklebow has a narrow raised floral band at center from which leafy branches extend in either direction in a sunken cartouche. Their symmetrical form is like that used by Roby and S&K. The quillon disk is cast with an inset, raised rosette of six petals surrounded by six flat-topped knots and a raised rim. All of the cast elements are nicely chased. The hilt preserves lots of its original gilt finish with just some spotting on the top of the pommel cap. The use of a sharkskin grip and triple wire binding, a central coiled strand flanked by two twisted wires, is also an extra touch, noted on Roby and Horstmann examples.  The sharkskin grip is excellent and the wire is complete and tight. The underside of the hilt has the early “Type-1” recessed oval to receive and seal the mouth of the scabbard when the saber is sheathed.

The blade impressive. The metal is smooth and mirror bright with vivid etched frosted panels on either side and a leafy vine along the back edge. The frosted panels end in leafy terminals mirroring the bright foliate motifs they contain. The obverse is etched with a palmette at bottom, followed by crossed cannon at the base of a tall stand of arms featuring polearms, flags, above which is a central banner suspended from the crossbar of a pole, framed by leafy vines. This is followed by two sections of floral scrolls, between which is another tall stand of arms, with a greater number of crossed lances and flags on pikes giving the impression of a starburst, from which rises a second banner suspended by a cross bar on a pole. The reverse has a similar sequence of motifs, starting with a wide flowering plant at bottom, with two bands of wavelike curls above (essentially the open ropework seen on Ames etching, for instance, but split in half,) over which is a tall stand of arms with flags and polearms, followed by two sections of floral scrolls between which is a second tall panoply of lances, etc., crossed as on the obverse to suggest a sunburst. The edges are very good and the etching extends across the blade. The upper portions of the blade show smooth, mirror finish.

The scabbard simple and plain by comparison, with unadorned ring bands and drag, which provides a pleasing contrast to the quality of the hilt and the blade, and indicates it is made for active used in the field. It retains a nice brown finish that shows some slight rubbing, and a little crustiness between the lower band and drag, but no dents.

Roby and S&K both seem to be candidates for the maker, but Roby would likely have marked the blade. Neither does it bear an S&K stamp, but if privately purchased through a U.S. retailer we need not expect one. The use of just standard floral and martial motifs also points to an import and we note that the leafy etching on the back of the blade and the two lines of wave-like curls over a floral motif on the reverse are reminiscent of the special order sword made for Lt. Col. Talcott, illustrated by Thillmann on p. 381. That sword was marked S&K and dated 1841, but is associated with the very first U.S. government contract swords. It is also worth noting, that despite S&K not being known for using sharkskin grips on their 1840 artillery officer’s sabers, they did go to the trouble of embossing the leather grips on those contract officer’s sabers to imitate it. [sr]  [ph:L]

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