Ca. 1834-1840 MILITIA OFFICER’S SWORD BY N.P. AMES SPRINGFIELD MASS.

$2,250.00 SOLD

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Item Code: 870-694

This beautiful gilt-brass mounted Ames militia officer’s sword uses a impressive high-relief eagle with spread wings as the guard. The eagle actually forms the quillon block with its wings forming the quillons and it clutches a U.S. shield forming the langet. It is deeply cast, chased, and gilt on both sides. The pommel is in the form of a knight’s helmeted head, with a gilt brass chain knuckleguard connecting to one tip of the wing quillons. The grip is straight reeded white bone, cylindrical with tapering ends.

The blade is regulation 1832/1834 pattern officer’s style: straight, double-edged, spearpoint, a shallow diamond in cross-section with a narrow central fuller. Both sides are bright etched. The obverse has a palmette at bottom with an address panel above reading “N.P. Ames / Cutler / Springfield,” a blade address used by the company from 1832 to about 1847, the year Ames died. Curling plant tendrils lead up to a small trophy of arms with quiver and an American eagle with stars and glory overhead, the reverse has similar floral elements, but with a tall trophy of arms and flags from which emerges a central pole with Liberty cap. On both sides the frosted ground of the etched panels ends in a leafy edged point.

The gilt brass scabbard is beautifully engraved at top with sweeping floral fans above and below a frog stud with scroll border and central panel showing a Liberty cap on pole with two crossed flags. The scabbard behind it is engraved with sunburst rays. Midway down the Liberty cap is repeated in larger form, with sunburst glory behind it, rising from a stand of arms with flags, spears, shield, etc. In both instances the Liberty cap repeats a blade motif. The lower scabbard is engraved with more floral scrolls and long feathery leaf extending into the symmetrical shoe-shaped drag.

Interestingly, the scabbard seems to have been fitted originally with just a frog stud. Two carrying rings were then added, one of which remains in place just above the frog stud, secured with a plain brass band, and there are signs midway down the scabbard that another such band and ring may have been soldered in place. This points to a rather early date for the sword. Thillmann illustrates some regulation 1832/34 infantry and artillery officer’s swords using just the stud for wear in a waist belt frog (pages 61-62,) but indicates the Ordnance Department decided they should carry two rings as well, although some rings were attached in a flimsy fashion (p. 67.)

The sword is striking in conception. Tiffany used a very similar pattern for some of their high-end “straight swords for generals,” one of which is proudly displayed by Joe Hooker in Civil War portrait. Less robust versions sometimes used the eagle simply as a counterguard, as with the 1834 Revenue Cutter sword. In any case, the sword is in excellent condition. The grip has no cracks or chips. The blade is bright with the etching vivid. There are significant amounts of gilt finish remaining on the hilt, guard chain, and scabbard, with expected rubbing to the high points that reveals nicely aged brass.  [sr] [ph:L]

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