BEAUTITFUL GOLD WASHED PUTNAM PHALANX 1872 STAFF AND LINE OFFICER’S SWORD OF MAJOR JOHN F. JONES, LATER OF BLACKSBURG, S.C.

$550.00 ON HOLD

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 2022-375

This sword has a gilt brass hilt and scabbard and gold-washed etched blade bearing an Ames Sword Company maker address and panels identifying the owner as John F. Jones of the Putnam Phalanx. The sword is the 1872 Staff and Line officer’s sword, often still called by Peterson’s designation as an 1860 Staff and Field. Descended from the 1860 Staff Sword, this pattern was regulation for all officers except cavalry and artillery from 1872 to 1902.

This has the regulation lantern shaped pommel with floral decoration on top, blank shield on the reverse, eagle on the obverse, knucklebow with sword knot slot, cast and chased with twisting thunderbolts and a secondary branch joining a fixed obverse counterguard with an American eagle superimposed on six flags and a folding reverse counterguard with a U.S. shield superimposed on a panoply of arms and surrounded by a wreath. The white rayskin grip wrap is good. The twisted brass wire binding in tight. The grip has ferrules at top and bottom. The quillon finial is cast with a lion’s face on the tip. The hilt as a whole retains about 60 percent of it gilt, with some rubbing, age spotting, and some dark areas on the counterguard, but still very attractive and likely to respond to a careful cleaning. The reverse counterguard is functional.

The blade is the standard straight, double edged arris blade, etched with floral scrolls and central panels reading “Jno. F. Jones” and “Putnam Phalanx” on the other.

The maker address is etched on the obverse ricasso, “Ames / Sword / Co. / CHICOPEE / MASS.” The etched portions on both sides were then given a gold wash. The panels are good, very legible, with lots of gilt remaining. The rest of the blade is smooth metal, bright with some gray age spots that are not obtrusive above the panels and with a few darker gray areas below them toward the tip.

The gilt scabbard is complete, with throat, decorated ring bands and drag in place. The upper band carries to rings; the lower band, one. The scabbard nicely matches the hilt and retains about 80 percent of its gilt, with just some rubbing from handling on the lower ring band and a section a few inches below the lower band, and some wear around the drag.

The Putnam Phalanx was a militia company originally organized in Hartford, Connecticut, as an escort for former Governor Thomas Seymour upon his return from a stint as ambassador to Russia in 1858. Named after Revolutionary War General Israel Putnam, the group wore colonial style uniforms and was largely a social and patriotic organization, merging into the Connecticut National Guard about 1930.

The Ames Sword Company, successor to the Ames Manufacturing Company, is well known to collectors of US military swords. This business name was in use from 1881 until the company was acquired by M.C. Lilley in the 1920s and the name was changed to Lilly-Ames, with the transfer completed in 1930 and the Chicopee operation closed down, narrowing the date for the sword.

The owner was certainly John F. Jones (1846-1939,) born in Massachusetts and a newspaper reporter before taking up civil engineering. According to one obituary he built more than 100 bridges in New England and was in charge of rehabilitating the Connecticut & Western Railroad until moving to South Carolina about 1886 to help build the Charleston, Cincinnati & Chicago Railroad. He was responsible for developing Blacksburg, SC, as the railroad headquarters with workshops, a roundhouse and other railroad facilities, built his own house there and several, for rent apparently, for the workers, and was a local philanthropist in funding a school and hotel. He was a revenue collector for South Carolina from about 1922 to 1931 when he moved to Claremont, NH, where his daughter lived, and where he died in 1939 at age 92. He was a member of several fraternal organizations and was referred to as a “life member” of the Putnam Phalanx in a southern paper after hosting them in South Carolina in 1895 on their return trip from Atlanta. He is often referred as “Major” John F. Jones, though whether as an actual rank in the Putnam Phalanx or elsewhere, or simply as a southern honorific is unclear. He likely obtained the sword before moving south about 1886, but we can’t rule out a later date given his continued connections with the unit.

This is a very attractive sword with nice links to the railroad barons of the gilded age.  [sr] [ph:m]

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