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Thread: Unmarked 1860 Cavalry saber. Real or fake?

  1. #1

    Thumbs up Unmarked 1860 Cavalry saber. Real or fake?

    I recently bought my first Civil War sword, an 1860 Cavalry saber with scabbard. I bought it at a local Michigan militaria show for $350 after it was declared real by a friend who's much more up on this than I am.

    It's in overall excellent condition with a bright and shiny blade (possibly recently cleaned?), but entirely devoid of markings except for a number of confusing and overlapping stamps at the base of the pommel. These were declared 'inspection' or 'acceptance' stamps. There's what appears to be the number 88, the letters JH and the letters EEL (or EEE) set in a triangular pattern. All three are in different sizes and crowded in an area about half the size of a dime. The only reference I could find for any of these is for the JH, which was an inspecton mark used by Mansfield & Lamb in 1862 only. The stamps are so small I had to fish out my jewler's loupe to read them.

    I went ahead and weighed it at 2 lbs 2 oz for the sword only (should be 2 lbs 4 oz according to Wikipedia).

    I did some online research on 'unmarked' swords and found little information except for a forum post saying that every sword was required by law to be maker marked, and unmarked swords are likely high-quality fakes made in India for the purpose of being sold as real. I then hoped that it was an unmarked import from England or France but apparently all of those were the 1840 model, not the 1860.

    So, here's my question: Is there any way an unmarked 1860 Cavalry saber could have made it into the hands of a soldier during the Civil War, or is my new acquisition 100% phony (albiet a damn good one)?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Nipmuc USA
    Posts
    11,851
    Hi David

    Welcome To Sword Forum International

    As to weight differences and wikis, two ounces is nothing. Pictures of your example may be very telling, Meaning, the manner and form of the letters you are seeing. If we go to playing twenty questions to confirm other attributes about your piece, we might know more. Such as is the grip quite linearlly tapered or is there a hump to it? How many winds of wire on the grip? Does the base of the blade seem squared off where the fuller ends or is the fuller end rounded at the base of the blade? Is the blade back quite flat or is it somewhat rounded? See what I mean? Pictures from your computer can be uploaded directly to the forum, or pictures can be hosted elsewhere on the net and shared here.

    A good many old swords have little or no markings and cavalry swords such as you describe are amongst them. A for instance, I have a generic "heavy" type as used in the American Civil War but without more provenance, all I can say is that it is an example of the form, made sometime between the 1820s and early 20th century. It has no maker's mark, is absolutely a genuine old sword (not reproductions) and only a couple of numbers on the hilt parts. Solingen produced some hundreds of thousands of these patterns and a good many were exported worldwide with no specific markings.

    Here is my heavy as received and the grip/pommel in progress. You will see the only marks on this sword and genuine but the date can really only be guessed at.

    Cheers

    Hotspur; just email pictures to me if you have them and are having difficulty. I will get them up
    gcleeton@gmail.com
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    Last edited by Glen C.; 04-30-2012 at 03:38 PM.

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