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Thread: Bristol Artillery US Musician's Sword

  1. #1
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    Bristol Artillery US Musician's Sword

    Gents,

    I thought I would show an interesting US Model 1840 Musician's Sword from the Bristol Train of Artillery in Rhode Island. The sword was made by The Henderson Ames Company which dates it between 1893-1923 according to Bezdek. The blade is etched with the name of the Rhode Island Militia unit on the reverse and the Musician's name on the obverse. The sword came with an old yellowed tag attached indicating it was used in the "Spanish American War". I have not yet researched the Musician to verify his dates of service.

    This finely made private purchase sword has a gilt brass hilt and scabbard fittings. The steel scabbard is nickeled and the grips are silver washed brass. I seldom see US Musicians swords of this vintage.

    The Bristol Train of Artillery is one of the oldest US Militia units having been establilshed on 12 February 1776 in Bristol Rhode Island. It seems they were reconstituted in 1794 as that is the date found on their distinctive US Civil War period uniform buttons. It also appears that part of the unit was reorganized again on 3 November 1926 as Battery C, 1st Battalion, 103rd Field Artillery, RI National Guard.
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    "You can't please everyone, so you have to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

  2. #2
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    Nice, George.
    Bristol is just a few minutes away from my house. The Train of Artillery has a small museum located in the Armory. They might help you with the ID on your guy. (401)253-2928

    BTW, Bristol also has the oldest Independence Day Parade in the country. It's an event in itself. Bands and floats come from all over the US. It's pretty awesome.

  3. #3
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    One of my nieces is in Bristol and mentions the 4th activities. Lots of drum&bugle competition down there that week as well. RI was the first colony to declare independence and the last to ratify the constitution.

    I recently moved slightly south of where I was and am now in Burrillville over by Spring Lake. There is a lot of interesting militia history for RI and I am still settling in to explore. I am not sure which flag I should fly but there is the Sullivan's RI Militia flag and an older version of the RI Regiment flag. Found some of those in old stock cotton (CRW Flags, $10 for a 3x5 on special). Still in the Nipmuc though.

    All the late musician swords I have seen seem to be German blades with the fuller a good bit shorter than the ACW period swords. The long ricasso as well on these. Was it some sort of nickel wash on the grip?

    Cheers

    Hotspur; the RI state flag is quite nice as well. That and a Washington's Cruisers flag might fit the bill
    Last edited by Glen C.; 06-25-2013 at 10:14 PM.

  4. #4
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    Nice sword!
    Motivated buyer of US Cavalry sabers.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the kudos and information gentlemen. I just picked this sword up over the weekend and I was really happy to find it. I have a soft spot for these somewhat obscure US Militia units and Rhode Island seems to have been awash in them from the beginning of the country. At least I seem to have found swords from quite a few Rhode Island units.

    This sword has a peened blade so it may well be marked Germany on the tang but we will never know. It does have the long ricasso and the fuller is shorter than the standard Ames M1840 Musician's sword. This sword is also the same short length as the item of issue Ames Music sword. I have another postwar Musician's sword that was made by "Ames Sword Company" for the US Naval Academy band. This post CW sword is made exactly like the wartime ones with a polished steel blade with a very long fuller that ends near the tip. The NA blade is etched with the maker and the NA and Anchor motif and may well be a NOS blade that was never stamped and shipped to the Government for all I know.

    Finally, the grip on the Rhode Island sword is not nickeled but is actually silver wash over brass and is somewhat muckledy looking at present. I think I can clean the grip up but its composition is really deceptive from the photograph. Also, the blade on the RI sword is plated rather than polished like the earlier Ames Music swords. I find it interesting that the steel scabbard on this sword is nickeled rather than being blackened. This seems consistant with the nickeled scabbards on the Model 1872 swords, which carried over to the Model 1902 Army Officer Sabers. My Ames Sword Company NA sword has a blackened steel scabbard and of course the blade and fittings are not inspected.

    George
    Last edited by George Wheeler; 06-26-2013 at 08:56 AM.
    "You can't please everyone, so you have to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

  6. #6
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    A product I have been having pretty good luck with is Silver Secret.
    http://www.silversecret.com/index.php?s=products

    I think JAX has a similar formula.

    Primarily for previously plated items, I have actually added the material to bare brass and copper. It is a galvanic deposition of real silver. It needs to be worked/rubbed in to take well. The directions supplied make it wasteful. One of the short militia swords I had found had lost a lot of the wash but readily accepted a new finish. It does mellow from being quite bright and I have used it on a number of swords now. This one 150ml bottle has lasted a long time. The same amount of their mild enhancing polish will last me a lifetime, as a very light abrasive. You need a small shallow paper or aluminum bowl or cup and after shaking the bottle, drop just a smidge in the cup. I have found just the corner of a paper towel works well and just start scrubbing it on the surface to be plated. Mask what you do not want to plate. It cleans up with water, as it is a water and potato juice solution with powdered silver. At first I had just used cotton swabs but you really need more of a rag/pt and friction to get the best result. Save that pot and disregard the instructions of not reusing, there is a lot of silver remaining to add to the next session. I used a foil muffin tin for some years as my pot.

    Sometimes it really does work like a charm, attached below.

    Cheers

    Hotspur; still have no idea in which boxes still have my kit stowed away. The joy of moving
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  7. #7
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    Thanks Glen. I have a bottle of similar stuff called Silversmith that I have used sucessfully over the years. You do have to use gloves though because it has a very negative reaction on your exposed skin. I know from experience. Your sword looks much better after application of the Silversecret.

    Also, I was able to find out a bit of information on the owner of my Musician's sword and it is always best to verify the information found on old collector tags. In fact he seems to have been a bit too young to be in the Spanish American War as he was born in 1884 and would have been 14 or 15 at the time of the war. I suppose it is possible that he was a child Musician during the war though but I can't tell that yet. He was serving in the Bristol Artillery in 1909 and was carried as a Sergeant at that time. His WWI draft card shows that he was deaf in his right ear... imagine the excellent chances of an Artilleryman being deafened in one ear.
    "You can't please everyone, so you have to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

  8. #8
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    Do we want to start a post ACW musician's sword threat?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by T. Graham View Post
    Do we want to start a post ACW musician's sword thread?
    Well... I only have two but if you have a few that would be enough for you to start such a thread. Perhaps we could throw in a regulation Civil War Musician's Sword to show what the regulation sword looked like. That would give us a basis for compairison.
    "You can't please everyone, so you have to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

  10. #10
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    George, here's a treat for you. Took a couple of pictures at the last week's July 4th Parade in Bristol, RI.
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  11. #11
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    Great photos Dimitry! I really appreciate you taking them for me.

    George
    "You can't please everyone, so you have to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by George Wheeler View Post
    Great photos Dimitry! I really appreciate you taking them for me.

    George
    No problem, thought you'd like 'em. I have some more. If you want hi-rez photos, send me an email.

  13. #13
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    Thanks... I sent you a PM.
    "You can't please everyone, so you have to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

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