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Thread: Antique American Swords

  1. #1
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    Antique American Swords


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    Just wanted to see if anyone on this forum collected antique American swords. I do and always welcome the opportunity to discuss the subject with others. Currently, I have 20 antique American swords, mainly US contract cavalry sabers.

  2. #2
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    Pictures?
    Ted Wilson

  3. #3
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    Although some of my period swords are specifically for the American market, most of the collection is of the earlier revolution and federal period. Here is an eagle that flew in here in the past weeks. Possibly assembled in America, as the fittings are a bit of a compilation of style and though original, the parts don't all jive with one another. A 29" blade.



    A pair of 1812 era swords. Another situation of parts that were probably assembled An America. Virtual siblings in some respects.



    A pair of late spadroons. The long one, an Ames 1864 NCO and the other a likely post war era short miltia officer piece. An etched blade on that one and sold.made by the Roby shop.


    A ubiquitous German made "wristbreaker" 1840 type sabre, scaled as dainty when compared to a French 1854 dragon.


    Various, with a mixture of American eagles and other 18th, 19th century stuff


    An early American militia spadroon in various stages of restoration.



    Eagle head pommel swords are a primary study and interest but it is probably spadroons that most hold my attention. A "wristbreaker" was something I always had on a list and took care of that niche/itch. Another recent in is this as yet positively identified short spadroon. Not at all unlike the Rose nco contracts but disimilar, including that the blade is of cast steel.





    Cheers

    GC
    Last edited by horseclover; 09-24-2009 at 11:20 PM.

  4. #4
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    A couple of more. That militia spadroon with more pictures of detail. These pommel types are seen more often on sabres thought to be nco swords of the 1790 period. This sword as well possibly cutlered in America. The blade for sure is of German origin.


    Our left to right. A Ketland type spadroon, a Bolton type spadroon and an Osborn type sabre. All of Birmingham origin for the American market circa 1800 through 1812. The little guy shows up in the Medicus Collection Flayderman/Mowbray book sporting a brass pommel and the naval looking guard. This one has a dirk length blade and of what seems to be aluminum. Post 1872, that one. The guy on the right doesn't quite fit, as it is an E.F.Horster made naval type guard but with an Italian airforce looking WWII pommel (minus its crown). That may have been a late assembly of parts sold to GIs, etc.



    So, my period stuff is kind of split between early American arms and others but that period between the American revolution and the War of 1812 is really where most of my wants fall.

    Cheers

    GC

  5. #5
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    GC:

    Nice five-ball Ketland. I am curious, do you do your own restoration work? I need to take some pics of mine. The best I have are a 1833 Ames Dragoon and 1840 Tiffany.

  6. #6
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    This is fascinating stuff, my compliments to you Peruna 1998 and Horseclover. May I ask some questions: How do you define a spadroon and what is a wristbreaker? I'm not a sword collector, I'm a re-enactor and a student of the War of 1812.

    Thanks, Don

  7. #7
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    A wristbreaker is another name for the Model 1840 Heavy Cavalry Sword. Generally, wristbreakers have a heavier and slightly longer sword than the later Model 1860 Light Cavalry Sword, hence the name. Both models were made domestically and internationally (mainly in Solingen overseas). The main domestic swordmaker was the Ames Sword Company, then out of Cabotville and Chicopee, Mass. The US Government had numerous contracts on both types. Also, bear in mind that American cavalry swords generally followed European development. Thus, American swords were usually a few years behind in development.

    Swords from the 1812 era are generally of a different design. The first US government contract on swords was not until 1818, I think, with the Rose cavalry sword. Even then they were not usually distributed to American cavalry units as the first true US cavalry was not created until 1833 and the first regiment of dragoons.

    What is interesting about the swords of the 1812 era is the predominance of the eaglehead pommel, such as seen on the picture of the Ketland eaglehead above.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peruna1998 View Post
    GC:

    Nice five-ball Ketland. I am curious, do you do your own restoration work? I need to take some pics of mine. The best I have are a 1833 Ames Dragoon and 1840 Tiffany.
    Most of what I work on could probably be better termed as conservation but I have done a fair amount of gentle polishing of scuffing. It can be difficult to remove badly scratched blades (errant sharpeners) and still leave the original grinds apparent. In the case of that militia officer sword, I have been playing around with a topical and electro-less silver plating. I also use edible E and other oils for the bone and ivory grips, as well as self patented (so called) miracle fillers and crack mending of grips.
    My own little shop of horrors, as it were.

    Tom Nardi does some great grip work and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend him.
    http://www.cds1.net/~nardi/swords/index.htm

    I have not tackled rebuilding and rewrapping these types of grips, as I tend to not grab stuff that is that far gone. I do have some ideas on how to approach those though.

    I have also recently adopted Pecard's leather care products and am quite impressed with its capabilities to help out old leathers. I don't have a shot of that militia scabbard after the fact, nor some of the leather grips I have treated but that 1840 I showed came out quite nice and another from 1750ish swelled to make the wire tight on the leather over cord job. It has even swelled a Western leather washer handle knife (an L-77) from very sloppy to quite tight.

    Most of the rest of the work has been gentle cleaning. The five-ball was in great shape to begin with but did some scratch removal on the blade itself. Another eagle as well had been horribly scratched and scuffed but many hours of finer grit work has removed most of that while leaving the original grinds apparent.

    I'd love to own an 1833 in time. I have passed by a few repairable and several imports of that type. I really am trying to stick to self imposed lists though and more old stuff sits there (unloved for months/years at times).

    Cheers

    GC

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coldwood View Post
    This is fascinating stuff, my compliments to you Peruna 1998 and Horseclover. May I ask some questions: How do you define a spadroon and what is a wristbreaker? I'm not a sword collector, I'm a re-enactor and a student of the War of 1812.

    Thanks, Don
    In terms of the 1812 era and back to the mid 18th century, some look at hilt types as definitive of spadroons but there is really a variety of what might fall into the category. The name/definition itself leads back to German use of the word of spadrone. I get mixed reaction to that but one very long thread lead back to that origin in the end. Most typically, folk will think of a straight blade of up to about 32" and as short as 26". The English picked up and ran with the word, moreso than others. Flattened diamond ground double edged also fall into it at times, as well as the militia sword above which has a very narrow fuller. The majority of both the examples and preference of description would look for those lengths on a straight blade with a wide fuller running close to the tip.

    It is not at all unusual that yet others might call a short sabre with a spadroon hilt, a spadroon. The French would regard some as epee de la Anglaise in reference of the general type. For comparison, below is a George III etched slotted hilt spadroon from about the American Revolution period (or a bit later) and below that a first empire French Anglaise.




    Sometimes it's easier to say what is not a spadroon than what what might be accepted as part of the family.

    The wristbreaker nickname has a couple of supposed origins. Ironic no matter where that started because the French 1822 (of which was the model built on) was the light cavalry sword right up into the 20th century and the much larger 1854 straight jobs for dragoons and carabiniers.

    At any rate, quite a bit less handy of the wrist than many of the sabres used in America and certainly light if compared to the 1833s mentioned. the Big Starr swords of the 1812 and 1818 types were for the most part just not as familiar country wide.

    One explanation for the nickname came from a story that the dragoon troopers of the Mexican War were displeased with the first batches of the new sabre when compared to the prototypes of the 1840 trials. I have no period notes regarding that, just another story.

    Cheers

    GC

  10. #10
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    I keep a few lurking about in the closets.
    Last edited by aablades; 08-18-2010 at 07:37 PM.

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