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Thread: Early Ames And Other's Militia NCO Patterns

  1. #1
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    Early Ames And Other's Militia NCO Patterns

    I am seeing some uncommon varieties of these popping up along with the dandy superior officer versions with mameluke guards, chains etc. I am eyeing one of those sitting in a corner apparently unwatched (not the eagle at Salter) These older roached helmet pommel swords seem to range from pretty mundane to quite interesting.

    Now new to me while reading through a book of the Ames Sword Company history (John Hamilton) is an early militia Roman helmeted shorty. I am still unsure if it was shortened, as we find these in a variety of lengths. This one the shortest (if sold that way) I have encountered. This one is probably from the early to mid 1830s but I have encountered similar Ames pieces with pre American Civil War Masonic etchings (ie the Hamilton example). Ames was a very early seller to various groups and lodges with even the gladius style artillery swords being etched to the Masons and Odd Fellows quite early on.



    The patina is quite thick and I'll probably not strip the hilt clean aside from removing loose and impacted dirt but there are traces of the gilt plating a lot of these older ones had.



    The shell guard vs the shield we see on a lot of these through the 19th century is shown in Peterson's American Swords book and that hilt just dark wood and an egg pommel, marked (iirc) to the Portsmouth (brain fade, it might be Maine) N.H. artillery.



    So this one is just a 21" blade while the one I'm posting below is 24" and I have also seen 27" and 31" blades with the Ames militia patterns. This one jst below is a 24" example but with the same cross-hatching and the shield type guard.



    Variety is the spice of discovery, really. I am also posting a couple of pictures of a very related example I really can't define as to who and when but it is possibly older than the other two above.




    A lot of what we see listed of these knight/Roman pommels can turn out to be one of a masive pile but every now and then, some rather scarce ones do surface.

    Cheers

    Hotspur; it is a bit of a chunky monkey compared to the post war fraternal and militia examples

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    So then another one of these very short ones showed up and since the first one was lonely, came in the door today. Seller pictures, forgive me.



    Aside from looking like it was over a fireplace forever, there are some more different details of this one.



    Seemingly identical in the castings at first, this example shows less chasing of the visor area and although more of it, the cross hatching and reeding is a bit haphazard and even shows what must have been a blem in an interrupted carving section on the show side of the grip.



    This one was never gilded and the blade's edge shows some use at some point. The first one with the shell guard did have substantial gilding and the blade was pretty much pristine, so I had cleaned that one up a bit after all. the wear side has suffered an Elmer's or rubber cement repair after the ferrule had split for whatever reason.



    The blade patina is thick but I don't think there was ever any etching on this one either.

    Cheers

    Hotspur; a bit serendipitous bumping into these two back to back

  3. #3
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    I had an excellent Ames militia nco sword of this type, with a profusely etched blade, in very fine detail. Ames was doing some fine work then, certainly on par with the select good British cutlers.

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    I remember your listing that one Dmitry and your galleries will hopefully last forever. A museum in itself. I had gotten kind of absorbed in Hamilton's book when these last two came to light. These have been a bit of distraction from looking to find the right Osborn spadroon and the right Bolton sabre.

    Cheers

    Hotspur; now wanting an Ames 1870 bayonet but will need the rifle to go with it $$$$

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    Nice variations, I had not seen before.

    One nice thing about these is that people almost give them away!

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    Quote Originally Posted by WBranner View Post
    Nice variations, I had not seen before.

    One nice thing about these is that people almost give them away!


    There is a dandy of a more sophisticated Ames running right now as Masonic and this last one was categorized much the same. There was also what looks to be a Horstman vs Ames squatting eagle listed that just went for very few beans. I wish I had deeper pockets to catch those more than photographically.

    Cheers

    Hotspur; really towards the end period of my interests but interesting nonetheless
    Last edited by Glen C.; 03-28-2011 at 09:22 AM.

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    Another one of these shorties with a clam shell guard recently went through Ebay. This one the shortest listed yet, at 19" of blade. That unless the seller was just measuring to the guard langet. This one also with a wood grip instead of bone or ivory.

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    This one with a scabbard and although better location in the listings and saw more activity in bidding, still went for relatively short $$. Some say good things come in three but was not adopted by me this time. If it was an extended family member of the the known sword community, I hope they can share their impressions.

    So now, that is four lengths of these short ones (19-20-21-24). Quite a bit more sturdily built than the post war past 1872 examples with lighter blades. They may turn out to be more common than we were seeing in the past, as more seem to come to light.

    Cheers

    Hotspur; almost dirk like, the shortest ones

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    I'm adding this eagle pommel example here as both an Ames and because of the cross hatching of the grip. The screaming eagles themselves could be an interesting story once it all unfolds because of the pattern in use in England long before it becomes an easily recognized Ames type. Either a real disparity in dating the British examples or an evolution. This one traveled through the bay this past week or so and there have been several other Ames eagles and what I am seeing as transitional parts and blades while looking Ames assembled. That is kind of a different story though but I figured the the grip of this bird relevant to the Ames picture overall.

    Cheers

    Hotspur; all these popping up over the past few months has been fun to watch, even when I can't have in hand
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    Another slightly different one showed up in the past weeks with what looks like bayonet blade stock but fullered closer to the point. It seems the really heavy cross guard types are a trio with the last having the terminal bumps what we associate with many of the later militia helmeted guys (and others).

    Cheers

    Hotspur; just adding more as I find other examples of the earlier/different Romans
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    In the best of 2011 thread, I mention one of these inbound with a full spadroon blade. With a full 32" blade, it is the same blade as the NCO 1840 models. Shown here in some quick snaps with a small family of them. The two pictured previously with the 21"blades and another reeded grip with a 26" blade. Those three have a different grip profile, with this spadroon example having more of a curve in profile. Still, not as belled a bottom as the 1872+ grips we see on the later militia and fraternal swords.




    All four are natural ivory that have been cored and then have wood plugs ion either end mating with the pommels and ferrules. This last spadroon example has a bit more flair in the ferrule but still very much the Ames build although no marks are apparent unless hidden by the guards. I can't seem to not adopt more and it is the less than common that really draw me back to seek out more.

    Cheers

    Hotspur; all still relative bargains looking for good homes
    Last edited by Glen C.; 10-07-2011 at 09:36 AM.

  11. #11
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    These pre-Civil War Militia pattern swords are a whole field of study in and of themselves. The style even carried over past the CW period. Often unloved and unstudied I am glad you are working with them Glen. Very neat!
    "You can't please everyone, so you have to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

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    A wonderful thread, Glen. Thanks. These types have always intrigued me with their variations.
    Tom Donoho

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    Pre Civil War NCO and or Masoic swords.

    Here are three NCO swords that appear to be basically the same. All are Pre or early post Civil War and German made. The brass scabbards have two rings and a frog stud and a clover leaf tip. But a close examination of the etching patterns and scabbard mountings they have some unique differences.

    No. 849 Is marked Clauberg/Horstmann and seems to be a straight forward NCO sword with martial etching and a bone grip.

    No. 3407 Has the Weyersberg knights head, retailed by Horstmann, but the blade etching is Templar and a black wood grip.

    No. 2811 Has the Weyersberg knights head, retailed by Horstmann, The etching is not Masonic, but not all that martial, and the grip is bone. There is a Templer type cross on the frog stud. I think it is both NCO and Templar.

    The confusion of NCO and Masonic tyler swords seems to have started before the Civil War.

    If anyone wants me to make three different replies with more details on these swords just let me know.
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    Last edited by T. Graham; 10-14-2011 at 10:10 AM.

  14. #14
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    Thanks for sharing these three German blades. What has been continually curious to me is the use of Ames parts by Horstmann but in the end, maybe not so curious. A real truth of that is one Horstmann scabbard I have in pictures that has the quite obvious Ames scroll marking background.

    Hamilton dips into the fraternal use of various swords in his Ames biography/history book. One plate and page showing the shell guard on a reeded grip with very definitive Free Mason blade decoration. Then there are the massive numbers of Odd Fellows gladius swords that predate the ACW but for all intents and virtues exactly the same as the military swords in build. It is much later we start to see the odd blades on the bullseye hilt in use ranging from societies to theater.

    For me, it seems not unusual at all for pre war swords appearing as in use by societies with some quite interesting and "early" examples. One sabre for instance with obvious Scottish Rite blue&gilt most likely originally intended for use on that island rather than American markets. Another, a rather intriguing smallsword that turns out to be not just Masonic but a tribute/presentation to those Free Masons in Sweden heavily involved in the military and politics of war.

    As a sidebar here in this thread, fine I think but a dedicated thread for fraternal/military crossovers from all makers may already have been posted here or be helpful as a stand alone discussion. I have plenty of those curiosities in files but here are a couple, three from my fraternal folder.

    I have another interesting file I have saved about a militia type in the ACW but don't recall if is still listed. The seller wants/wanted $35,000 based on some photographs and initials scratched on a scabbard. That sword alone could be a kegger of a thread regarding swords, provenance and possible realities.

    Having bought the newer fraternal "bible" edited and arranged by Hamilton (fortunately at a discount), the preface and introduction says it all in being immediately useful while leaving so many questions still to be answered. Just this thread on the early Ames examples of militia swords leaves a lot unanswered from the Ames history book. So, so many unmarked while obviously their work. Castings from Ames being used by others and probably freely as sold by Ames to cutlers but also knowing Ames was PO'd that foreign copies were sometimes going so far as to copy near perfectly.

    Cheers

    Hotspur; with folders everywhere, I may even have these below already uploaded to albums onboard. Bigger always shots always available
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    Glen,

    That's an interesting fraternal "small-sword" type sword. Further comments would be appreciated. The sword with General Washington's head is interesting--the pommel is like a mini bust of the general to carry around--and it looks well cast too.
    Tom Donoho

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    Hi Tom

    The sword with Washington's bust is one of the Patriotic Sons Of America variants and another topic worthy of a stand alone thread, as I have as many examples as have probably already been mentioned in other threads here.

    The image of the smallsword was (iirc) culled to my files from the smallsword thread stickied at the top. Again, military/fraternal crossovers really do deserve a stand alone thread. For instance, I am much more fascinated in the sabre but it is not an early Ames militia pattern to be sure. I abstracted about the smallsword and others rather than needing to plow through a couple of other threads in various locations to offer more specifics. It was regarded in a rambling thread about balls on the internet by one of the many forumnauts and his thoughts follow.

    Hi Glen,

    Interesting Specimen. Gustavus III issued a number of these swords (or very similar) as swords of honour after the war between Russia and Finland (1788-1790). It is rumoured that the masons assisted Gustavus mount a coup d'etat against the Swedish Riksdag (parliament).

    All the Best
    jeff
    So there you have it. As much as I know anyway. A sideline from a thread elsewhere on the number and meaning of beaded hilts

    The Roman helmeted cruciform swords from Ames was the lead to this thread and I have encountered some of the variants that I have posted here. No doubt, I will find more of the examples with cross hatching on the grips but it is those from the 1830s that really drew me to looking further and sharing those here. The full spadroon bladed example a real clunker in handling compared to the 1840 nco counterpart, as the brass hilt of those brings the overall mass back to the hand (I actually like the overall feel of the 1840 nco regulation swords, quite spadroony).

    Cheers

    Hotspur; the POSA bust sometimes confused as Knights of Columbus swords and vice versus

    Addendum

    For example, King Gustavus III of Sweden and his brother, Karl, the Duke of Sodermanland, had been initiated into the Strict Observance in 1770. In the following year, one of Gustavus's first acts upon assuming the Swedish throne was to mount a coup d'etat against the Swedish Riksdag [parliament] and reestablish greater powers in the Crown. According to Samuel Harrison Baynard, writing in his book, History of the Supreme Council, Gustavus was assisted largely by fellow Freemasons.
    The thread where I scarfed the image and Jeff's thoughts posted Feb this year re the five ball mystery thread. Also replied to by both myself and you Tom Oldtimers old or what at play here ?8^)~
    http://www.swordforum.com/forums/sho...-masonic-sword
    Last edited by Glen C.; 10-14-2011 at 12:37 PM.

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    Thank you, Glen!
    Tom Donoho

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    The G. Washington head swords were usually made for Patriotic Sons of a America. I believe they were a xenophobic fraternal order. An example like yours is shown on page 142, of "The American Fraternal Sword". But, on page 138 another is shown as a Knights of Washington. There were other groups that used the GW head. (I wonder if our first president would have approved?)
    "The American Fraternal Sword" illustrates many swords that fit close to the NCO pattern. But it is interesting that there are no so called Masonic "tyler's" swords show in this book. They are very NCOish. Did the Masons use this sword or were most of these made for military schools? They were and still are, a major sword market.

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    The real apparent changes between the sword types seems to more reflect usefulness before the war to artifice after the war. Without going to the Ames book to look at the tiny catalog pictures, I know I see the changes in grips and blade widths for the "militia" swords that are listed (iirc) as military association sales/target.

    I do see those without etching or named with the cardboard scabbards being listed by some as Tyler swords but I wonder a bit about that as well because if I am not mistaken, a standing Tyler must first be a Master Mason. Not being a Free Mason, I really can't speak to modern and even historic practice for the use the plain swords saw. One good bet is that they were bought sa well in bulk to be able to offer for a guest's use at meetings and functions. We do know the gladius forms were popular Tyler swords but are we so sure about the cruciform militia pattern? That might well be why they are not regarded in the late book title. Too many supposes to make a definitive statement.

    We do have pictures of the swords during the ACW and the sword I was alluding to earlier is the one shown being held by Kady Brownell. As the pictures are circulating more or less at will, I will attach a few of those as educational and in fair use and also a blog page describing her bio and actions during the war.
    http://blog.accessible.com/2011/03/k...ne-of-newbern/
    (better writing than the word file I had accumulated over time)

    Kady on a wiki which might be verbatim to the other and a gaggle of articles about her.
    http://civilwarwiki.net/wiki/Kady_Brownell

    I don't want to regard the provenance too questionable, as it is still circulating in the market but it is an example of the Horstmann type extant before general fraternal use.

    We also see some crude cross applique on some of the wooden gripped examples earlier than the mad push in the last quarter of the 19th century.

    Cheers

    Hotspur; Kady's a good example of a broad short blade vs the much narrower and longer blades becoming common after the war
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    Glen, were the clam-shell versions of these swords -- like the one on the top of your first post -- made full length (i.e., 32") and then later cut down to suit whatever purpose they were put to, or were they originally made in a variety of shorter lengths?

  21. #21
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    Hi Mark

    From what I am seeing (and shown in those with a scabbard) the shorter bladed Ames ones all seem to have the cross hatched grips, whether a clamshell or not but note the wooden grip exception and there may be more. This is shown in the Ames book examples of both the plain blades and the Masonic example. However, the egg pommel wood grip with the clamshell in Peterson's bible lists the 25"-26" blade which can be seen in the reeded grip example of my own quartet (compared with the 32" spadroon blade)

    As I have seen the shorter blades in quantity and they are for all intents uniform in length, it appears there was an option for length with the same basic blade. That kind of works through with the bayonet bladed one (center fuller double edged) that has a longer than bayonet blade but is the same cross section, simply longer. That one, along with the long spadroon blade could well have been made up of surplus but those shorties quite purposeful (imo and as shown by Hamilton).

    With the wood handle clam shown above being a shorty and at least half a dozen of the hatched grip shorties (some with original scabbards) circulating, I don't think they were shortened in the field, simply the same stock as the longer ones. Mine with the doubled hatched grip is singular in my travels but where there is one, there are often more. The shorter blade as listed in the book are these early 1830s swords, while the blue&gilt Masonic sword iirc was the 1850s, so the castings live long and well past the ACW. The third guard type with the heavy build and plain straight quillions but with the federal shield with stars, I am gambling are all post war and it might take a war time catalog showing those to prove me right or wrong. The basic shield chunky monkey guard though is still shown in the later catalog but with the longer narrower blade and the post 1872 grip profiles.

    Kady's sword pictured was given to her as manufactured (by another source other than Ames), so there is another precedence for the shorter blade.

    Cheers

    Hotspur; I have spent a lot of time looking at the tips and polish of the short ones and it has always looked like factory work

    I could more simply say it in that the hacthed grip examples are always short but one never knows what will surface[/i]
    Last edited by Glen C.; 10-18-2011 at 06:48 PM.

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    Cadet NCO sword

    This group photo of cadets from an unknown US military schools Has a reeded bone hilt NCO sword. The third photo is another military schools sword with a similar cross guard.
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  23. #23
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    Great pictures, thanks. While these both look like post ACW items, we know the guard type was around before and during the ACW. The group photo is interesting as it shows both officer and nco types pf swords being used by cadets

    One uncommon variety of these went through Ebay just over the weekend and bidders seemed to go wild with it, This one from Justice in Philadelphia with a spiraled grip. As I am unfamiliar with this one, I'd be hesitant to say it was prewar and I do suspect that the Ames type with the shield bearing stars are all post war (but I could be wrong).

    Cheers

    Hotspur; had been watching a Jefferson Guard sword over the weekend as well that got a lot of interest
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    The Justice is now mine.

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    Would you like some photos of pre and post ACW shield swords?

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