HIGH GRADE Ca. 1850-1860 GENERAL’S SWORD WITH UNUSUAL USA BLADE ETCHING BY LAMBERT, PHILADELPHIA, EX-KEVIN HOFFMAN

$3,500.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 870-672

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This sword comes from the extensive and esteemed collection of Kevin Hoffman, who classified it as a ca. 1850-1860 general officer’s sword. In support of that identification the sword still retains its original woven gold braid officer’s sword knot with the elongated acorn, or “pine-cone,” end labeled as the sword knot for general officers in the 1864 Schuyler, Hartley and Graham catalog (and likely others.) The scabbard bears a Philadelphia military goods dealer’s stamp and the blade, perhaps imported, shows a small dry-needle etched name near the guard that is tough to make out, but likely the actual blade maker. More significantly, the blade bears a block letter “USA” etched on a panel rather than the more common “US,” either a simple variation or an allusion to those initials used by regular army officers of the period to indicate “U.S. Army.”

The sword uses a knight’s helmet pommel and crossguard cast and chased in the form of an eagle with extended wings forming the quillons and a short langet in the form of a United States shield with concave edges and impressed stars in the upper portion and raised bars forming the vertical stripes below. The sheet silver grip is octagonal in cross-section, impressed with border lines and flowery vines, or leafy branches. There is a short section of a chain knuckleguard still attached to the pommel, but the lower anchoring point is missing.

The blade is single edged with rounded, quill back that that transitions into a median ridge as it nears the tip and the blade takes on a false edge, pretty much like the M1841 US Navy officer’s sword, likely influenced by British blade patterns of the 1820s – 1830s. Both sides are etched for about two-thirds the length with dense, scrolling lush floral motifs showing acanthus leaves and palm fronds that on either side entwine a stand of arms showing crossed pikes with flags, a round shield etc. The reverse bears a central panel etched with the large “USA” in block letters.

The scabbard is gilt brass, with two upper carrying rings, one lower ring, and no frog stud. It is engraved on the obverse with geometric and symmetrical floral motifs, mirroring the blade in showing acanthus leaves and palm fronds. From the midpoint down it has dot-and-circle borders, with the engraving picking up again lower down with deeply engraved nested leaves in a panel with arabesque terminals. The drag is short and open work.

The reverse scabbard is plain and carries the retailer’s stamp near the throat: “J. H. LAMBERT / PHILADA.” Joseph H. Lambert started as a military capmaker in 1839/40, but persisted in the military goods business into the 1880s, and alternately working on his own and in partnerships in Lambert & White dealing in military and firemen’s equipments, and Lambert & Mast in military goods into the early 1860s. By 1864 he seems to have been doing just piece work on his own for Horstmann, though he worked as foreman for that company from 1869 to 1872, after which he struck out again on his own, later taking a son into the business, and lasting into the 1880s.

The condition of the sword is very good. The blade shows bright in places with some gray areas and darker stains. The etching is fully legible. The scabbard shows only minor dings and is missing just the small screw-mounted throat. The brass hilt has an untouched, aged tone. The scabbard matches well but naturally shows a few brighter areas from handling. The “USA” blade etching is particularly interesting. [sr][ph:L]

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