RARE 1857 AMES LIGHT CAVALRY SABER- FIRST YEAR PRODUCTION!

$2,950.00 ON HOLD

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 490-2497

This is a very rare first production run of the light cavalry saber and scabbard still known to many collectors as the Model 1860, but in fact produced starting in 1857. Ordnance Department correspondence with Ames on production of a new light cavalry saber exists from December 1856 and after some haggling over price, an order for 1,000 was placed with Ames in January 1857. The sabers were inspected and officially received by government inspector R.H.K. Whitely and sub-inspector A.D. King at Chicopee in August after a strenuous weeding out process that rejected 491 for various defects before reaching the required 1,000. Workmanship on the blades, grips and scabbards was criticized. Defects included too much or too little tempering, blade cracks, narrow blades, etc. Scabbards were accepted, but later found to be too light and heavier metal was used in subsequent production.

These sabers are marked by Ames and by government inspectors, but are undated. Identification by markings and specific characteristics only became possible in 2001 through research by Paul Johnson, detailed in the October 2001 issue of Man at Arms. This sword meets all the criteria in markings and construction. Sub-Inspector A.D. King’s “ADK” mark is on the blade, pommel, and drag, along with Inspector Robert H.K. Whitely’s “R.H.K.W.” stamp on the pommel also. This combination of inspectors is unique to the 1857. Both had moved on to other duties when the second order, for 800 sabers, was placed in 1858, and those sabers bear different initials. The blade uses the early block letter blade address on the reverse ricasso: “AMES MFg Co / CHICOPEE. / MASS.” The obverse has a simple “US” over “ADK.”

In terms of construction, the saber also shows another diagnostic for the 1857: the leather grip wrap was placed on from the top, like the 1840 patterns, resulting in an uneven bottom seam from the swell of the grip. On subsequent versions workers wrapped the grip from the bottom up.  shows an uneven bottom seam and, but rendered uneven by the swell of the grip.

The scabbard is the correct 1857 pattern also in construction and markings. It is lighter gauge than the subsequent scabbards and shows both the flat throat and ADK inspected drag. The flat throat was used until June 1859, but King was not at the Ames facility in 1858, when John Hannis’s “JH” stamp appears on the scabbards from that years order, and in 1859 inspection fell to G.G. Saunders, who used a  “GGS” stamp.

This sword is complete and in very good condition. The brass hilt has a dark patina, but the two sets inspector’s initials on the brim of the pommel cap can be made out. The grip wrap and wire are original, correctly configured, and show just minor wear. The blade pad is in place. The blade markings are sharp. The point and edge are good with only two very tiny edge nicks. The metal has a smooth surface, dull silver in tone, with some scattered gray spots and some thin scratches from cleaning. The scabbard has rings bands, drag, and correct flat throat in place, and shows as bright metal underneath thin brown spotting. The underside of the scabbard plainly shows its brazed seam. One of the complaints about these early lighter gauge scabbards was the difficulty in getting a good edge for the seam.

The light cavalry pattern was regarded as a great improvement on the M1840 “wristbreaker” and was used throughout the Civil War and the rest of the century. Even the M1906 was patterned on it. These sabers from the first year of production saw considerable service from the beginning: 800 were sent to St. Louis, likely for issue to the 1st and 2nd U.S. Cavalry. This one is in very good condition and it will likely be a while before another, in any condition, shows up. It would be an important addition to a cavalry or edged weapons collection. [sr] [ph:L]

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