U.S. MEXICAN WAR 1840 PATTERN OFFICER’S SWORD

$1,895.00

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Item Code: 490-2156

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Introduced in 1841, the Model 1840 officer’s sword was a hybrid of older French, British and Prussian patterns and was the regulation sword for U.S. officers not serving mounted until the introduction of the 1850 patterns. It thus saw service in the Mexican War and pre-Civil War army on the plains, as well as in the hands of the militia, and shows up later in some custom ordered swords as well. It has a straight, cut and thrust blade, single-edged with rudimentary false edge and single wide fuller, more or less the spadroon form.

The brass hilt has an urn-shaped, faceted pommel with leaves draping over the upper half and a tall capstan rivet in the shape of a pineapple or acorn. The grip is sheet brass with imitation wire wrapping, likely silvered originally, but now mostly matching the patina of the brass of the hilt and scabbard mounts. There are smooth ferrules at top and bottom of the grip. The knucklebow has cast floral elements at the pommel and a central rosette with leaves extending up and down the midpoint. The quillon tip is cast with a short button finial and a drapery or wreath swag. Shallow leaves extend onto the quillon block from the base of the grip. The guard is the standard bi-lobate form with folding reverse counterguard, missing the spring button, and has a raised oval disk on the underside to seal the scabbard mouth. There are just a few traces of gilt in some recessed areas. For the most part the brass has an untouched, aged patina.

The scabbard is regulation form- leather body with brass mounts. The throat has the simple frog hook for foot officers, showing a little gilt underneath. Both the throat and boot-shaped drag have cursory floral elements engraved at top and bottom on the reverse, but more extensive floral engraving on the obverse, along with a cast and chased frog hook and raised acorns and vine leave on the drag. The scabbard body is complete and good, black in color, oxidizing toward brown, but shows a couple of wear spots, a crease from an old bend, and some loose stitching at points along the seam.

The spine of the blade is etched with a long, leafy vine. Both sides of the blade are densely etched with a mix of floral and military motifs that include stands of arms with spears and a Roman style banner, but also a tall eagle with upraised wings, a U.S. shield on its chest, and a broad E PLURIBUS UNUM ribbon scroll overhead. The motifs are visible, but the blade is a mix of dull silver and darker gray, with some brown tones that might benefit from a careful cleaning. At the moment, like the hilt and scabbard, it is untouched.

We see no maker’s marks, but the sword is likely a German import sold through an American military goods dealer. The quillon finial is reminiscent of a sword by Weyersberg. In any case, a German maker is not unusual. The first U.S. patterns were supplied to the government by the Prussian firm of Schnitzler and Kirschbaum. The extra quality work on the scabbard mounts suggest it was likely for a line officer in a militia unit or one of the state volunteer infantry regiments serving in the Mexican War.  [sr] [ph:L]

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