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Thread: The pre WWII USMC officers swords

  1. #1
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    The pre WWII USMC officers swords

    This is one area of American sword collecting that has more errors than an early Met's game.

    After owning and examining a number of USMC officers sword I been able to come up with examples that are definitely pre 1942 when the Navy, Marines and Coast guard stopped wearing swords.
    Here some facts;
    1. The USMC was a very small service before WWII and the sword market was small.
    2. I have yet to come across an imported M1875 USMC sword made before 1954.
    3 There fore all were made by Ames and the Lilley-Ames Co. Have yet to find one made by The M.C. Lilley Co.

    http://www.swordforum.com/forums/sho...highlight=usmc
    The above sword is post 1954 and the early Eickhorn mark is used because it fits inside the etching. All the other details are typical post 1954 Solingen.

    Now if anyone can prove my thesis wrong, please jump in before I get to far along and look like an idiot, which takes little effort on my part.

    My first entry will be a pre ACW sword which fits many of the criteria mentioned in Peterson. So stand or sit by.

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    Pre ACW attributed to Ames Mfg CO.

    I knew some of you were giddy with anticipation and may get cranky, so lets get going.

    My first offering this evening is a shamsher that is so plain, That at first glance it is almost boring, but that cross guard sure looks USMC.
    The hilt is hollow cast brass and must be two pieces soldered/braised together. The applied gold varnish finish may have been added later. The cast scabbard bands seem US to me. The missing drag was held on by two screws and must be similar to the current type. I think I can replace it with a modern one as they are very close.
    Peterson mentions that Corps officers were rather low paid and their swords were plain.

    Peterson-The American Sword 1775-1945, a must have book even if a bit out dated.
    Any questions or comments. (Like I need to ask.)

    Up next will be an Ames.
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    Last edited by T. Graham; 07-29-2015 at 08:25 AM.

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    Next up an unmarked Ames.

    I have no doubt that this is an Ames Sword Co. sword. It lacks both maker or retailer marks.

    Now how do I know it is Ames?

    When placed placed next to a Lilley-Ames, it is very different in the details. After I present the Lilley-Ames, I will provide photos for comparison.
    Note the Horstmann catalog pages; this is the only catalog that has any USMC swords, or for that matter, any USMC items at all. I think Horstmann may have been the majority or only supplier of USMC accoutrements. I could not find any USMC items in my other dealer Catalogs.
    Dating? Is their any real difference between an 1880's sword and one made about 1920? I have no idea.
    This one came with a BROWN knot*, so a date of 1900-1925 is plausible.
    The two piece brass knot fitting in the ivory grip is threaded together and had come apart. To reassemble required removing it. The leather keepers on the knot had shrunk down a would not move, so I 'gasp' cut it off. I have one from a 1902 to replace it with.


    * You can use a USMC knot on an Army M1902, but you can not correctly install a Army knot on a USMC officers sword. More on this tidbit later.
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    Quote Originally Posted by T. Graham View Post
    I knew some of you were giddy with anticipation and may get cranky, so lets get going.

    My first offering this evening is a shamsher that is so plain, That at first glance it is almost boring, but that cross guard sure looks USMC.
    The hilt is hollow cast brass and must be two pieces soldered/braised together. The applied gold varnish finish may have been added later. The cast scabbard bands seem US to me. The missing drag was held on by two screws and must be similar to the current type. I think I can replace it with a modern one as they are very close.
    Peterson mentions that Corps officers were rather low paid and their swords were plain.

    Peterson-The American Sword 1775-1945, a must have book even if a bit out dated.
    Any questions or comments. (Like I need to ask.)

    Up next will be an Ames.
    Considering the regulations recanted in several texts, it seems unlikely a brass hilt mameluke would have been used by the USMC.

    Here is a good overall article from Cureton via the old ASoAC pages
    https://web.archive.org/web/20111018...ton_marine.pdf


    Before the 1825 regulation there were other mameluke swords known to have been carried between Obannon's and 1825, everything after that initial order has been of ivory, or substitute white grips.

    Cheers

    Hotspur; not sure I would list your's after the ACW but it certainly has traits of later years
    Last edited by Glen C.; 07-29-2015 at 11:42 AM.

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    Tim,

    Is that a name etched on the blade that I see? If so, you could look up the officer and determine when he served to help date the sword.

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

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    Quote Originally Posted by George Wheeler View Post
    Tim,

    Is that a name etched on the blade that I see? If so, you could look up the officer and determine when he served to help date the sword.

    George
    Here is the name for anyone who wants to look it up. I read it as William E. Maxwell.
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    Quote Originally Posted by T. Graham View Post
    Here is the name for anyone who wants to look it up. I read it as William E. Maxwell.
    There is a 1922 commissioned and warrant officers list with a William Elmore Maxwell 2nd LT.
    https://books.google.com/books?id=V_8sAAAAYAAJ

    Found other lists of him for 1920 and 1921.


    There are many references of William E Maxwell USMC as a Lt Colonel during the Guadacanal campaign
    http://www.nps.gov/parkhistory/onlin...7-00/sec2c.htm

    Cheers

    Hotspur; one and the same? I don't know

    A rather detailed account
    https://books.google.com/books?id=c7...0bitch&f=false
    Last edited by Glen C.; 07-31-2015 at 09:23 AM.

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    Wow. Well, they cannot all be heroes.

    There will be another name on this thread Edward Charles Mann SN y1061826.

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    Glen, Do not discount this sword brass hilt sword yet. It will have it's own thread.
    Last edited by T. Graham; 07-31-2015 at 11:23 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by T. Graham View Post
    Here is the name for anyone who wants to look it up. I read it as William E. Maxwell.
    There is extensive info available on him through ancestry.com. He was born on 24 Sep 1897 in Alabama and died on 11 May 1974 in Alexandria, VA and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. He attended the USNA and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the USMC on 7 Jun 1919 and retired as a lieutenant colonel in Jan 1947. If you want to see where all he served, there are some 311 muster roles showing his units, stations, and positions from Jul 1919 until his retirement.

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    I don't exactly loathe Ancestry.com but there is so much out there freely shared. Entered as a fourth class midshipman July 1916.

    An ancestor?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willia..._Army_general)

    I suppose Ancestry.com might reveal that but likely also found through a bit of searching.
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    Last edited by Glen C.; 08-01-2015 at 09:55 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Glen C. View Post
    Would be a good story if he were, but the William E. Maxwell named on this sword appears to be descended from a different line of Maxwells which begins with a Joel Maxwell from Maxwellton, Scotland who immigrated to Virginia in about 1700. William's ancestors moved from Virginia to Georgia sometime in the mid-1700s, and then to Alabama in the first quarter of the 1800s.

    Any way to judge the date of this sword? The natural assumption is that he bought it when he was commissioned in 1919, but it could be a replacement for his original sword purchased at anytime before his retirement in 1947. I've always wondered if there was some good way to date these M1875 Mamelukes. For example, did the pre-WWI examples have a heavier blade as was the case with pre-WWI Marine M1859 NCO swords?

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    ["Any way to judge the date of this sword? The natural assumption is that he bought it when he was commissioned in 1919, but it could be a replacement for his original sword purchased at anytime before his retirement in 1947. I've always wondered if there was some good way to date these M1875 Mamelukes. For example, did the pre-WWI examples have a heavier blade as was the case with pre-WWI Marine M1859 NCO swords?"[/QUOTE]

    I think my determination of 1900 to 1925 as the date has been confirmed by the above. I will add the Lilley-Ames version soon. The 1875 blades and the modern German ones are about the same size and weight.
    Last edited by T. Graham; 08-02-2015 at 08:56 AM.

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    Th Lilley-Ames USMC officers sword.

    This is the third USMC officer sword I want present. I will date it about 1930 after the Merger of Ames Sword Co. and The M. C. Lilley Co., creating the Lilley-Ames Co. (LA), located in Columbus Ohio.
    This date is determined by the ivory grip which was soon replaced by phenolic plastic. I will post a plastic griped example later.
    As I mentioned above, this one is named Edward Charles Mann. It was private labeled to Jacob Reeds Uniform, Philadelphia. They are still in business, but know one there remembers any thing about selling swords.
    This sword is different in the details from the Ames version. More on that in the next post.
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    Last edited by T. Graham; 08-02-2015 at 09:26 AM.

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    The differences between the Ames and Lilley-Ames.

    At first glace the Ames and Lilley-Ames seem to be the same. I am sure that no commanding officer would notice the difference on the parade field. But look closely at the pictures. The Ames has the shinier brass and is on the bottom. I played with the pictures to enhance the etching which is also different in the details.

    I have some questions to throw out to the forum to which I do not have an answer. (Gasp!) I will ask the moderator to not accept any answer unless it is documented. So no hearsay.
    Has anyone seen:
    1. a USMC officer marked The M.C. Lilley Co., Columbus OH.?
    2. " " " " MADE IN The U.S.A.?
    3. " " " " Lilley-Ames Co.?
    4. " " ' ' Ames Sword Co.?
    Keep in mind we are discussing the 1875 to 1942 sword only.
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    Last edited by T. Graham; 08-02-2015 at 10:05 AM.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by T. Graham View Post
    This is one area of American sword collecting that has more errors than an early Met's game.

    After owning and examining a number of USMC officers sword I been able to come up with examples that are definitely pre 1942 when the Navy, Marines and Coast guard stopped wearing swords.
    Here some facts;
    1. The USMC was a very small service before WWII and the sword market was small.
    2. I have yet to come across an imported M1875 USMC sword made before 1954.
    3 There fore all were made by Ames and the Lilley-Ames Co. Have yet to find one made by The M.C. Lilley Co.

    http://www.swordforum.com/forums/sho...highlight=usmc
    The above sword is post 1954 and the early Eickhorn mark is used because it fits inside the etching. All the other details are typical post 1954 Solingen.

    Now if anyone can prove my thesis wrong, please jump in before I get to far along and look like an idiot, which takes little effort on my part.

    My first entry will be a pre ACW sword which fits many of the criteria mentioned in Peterson. So stand or sit by.
    Hello: Mr. Graham
    I have been super busy with my business as I'm sure you are.(Trying to keep it all going).
    I just got to this party so I just what to clarify something... Are you saying that (you) have not seen a USMC officers sword that has been imported that has not been made before 1954 ???

    I personally own the Eickhorn Export files and Factory Master books (Musterbuchs) and own a (few of Eickhorn shipping ledgers from the 1920s and 1930s) and I can say without any doubt that Eickhorn was Importing USMC officers swords complete (with lists of named blades to some Officers). up to the 1940s and as early as at least the 1920s..
    Also they were Importing just blades to many US sword factories with special instructions not to mark blades (Solingen) (This was so they could market there swords as made 100% U.S.) Very old trick that goes on to this day, but now it is blades made in India marked (SOLINGEN) One company was sued in Germany already for this..
    I hope I have not misunderstood your thread as it is a fact that Many complete USMC Officers swords and blades only were Imported from Solingen Germany by the date 1942.
    Mr. Graham you are very welcome to come to my home anytime to look at these period documents...It would be a GREAT TIME!!
    Regards: James
    Last edited by James Brown; 08-02-2015 at 01:57 PM.

  17. #17
    Here is a Invoice for 65 USMC Officers swords from March 26th 1938..
    with the different blade lengths sent.. This is just a very basic example of the 100s of pages of paperwork I have...
    Off subject but besides other USMC Officers Invoices etc..
    Just looking at another letter with verious communications dated from 1935 and 1937 were they are sending West Point swords 100, U.S.C.G. Swords 50, U.S.A. presentation Sabers 25, U.S.N swords 100, ( PHILIPPINE ARMY SABERS !!!!! ) and U.S.A. army swords of different grades, ... Challenger, Defender, Spartan etc..... Also have the special instructions for trademarks on the Philippine Army swords. During 1939 relations with U.S. companies stopped because of the world issues..
    Last thing for this post, Eickhorn sent 1000 blades of various U.S. Sword , saber styles to Lilley Co. marked only (Germany) on the tang on May 24th 1930 (just one of many entries in the shipping ledgers. ) This can be ground off very easily .
    Regards: James
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    Last edited by James Brown; 08-02-2015 at 01:59 PM.

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    Hello James, At last some information. I figured that the L-A blades were imported, but the Ames has a slightly different etching pattern. I am surprised that N S Meyer, presumably a Jewish owned company, would do business with the Solingen Nazi supporters. What do you have informantion for Ames and Lilley-Ames?

  19. #19
    N S Meyer did business with Eickhorn until 1939 and than started again in the year 1946..Heck I even have Christmas cards Meyer sent to Eickhorn during the 30s!!! I have 100s of pages of N S Meyer orders , correspondence with Eickhorn along with many other U.S. firms and Military Uniform regalia sales houses.
    It is no surprise That Meyer did business with Eickhorn.. As people always tell me in my business ( James you take things to personal it is just BUSINESS) ( But I do not agree with the statement) FYI. Many people died in Solingen because of there political and religious believes during this time in history (and a few were well known factory owners like the Coppels..) (Alcoso)
    Yes I have a Ames, Lilley-Ames file... Among others...
    Regards: James
    Last edited by James Brown; 08-02-2015 at 04:06 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by T. Graham View Post
    As I mentioned above, this one is named Edward Charles Mann. .
    I believe you may have the middle name wrong. There is no record of an Edward Charles Mann serving as a USMC officer, but there are many for an Edward Ernest Mann who served from 1917 to 1928. I think the etching on the blade would support this attribution. Notice the "E" in "Edward" appears to be the same letter as used for Lt Mann's middle initial.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by T. Graham View Post
    ["Any way to judge the date of this sword? The natural assumption is that he bought it when he was commissioned in 1919, but it could be a replacement for his original sword purchased at anytime before his retirement in 1947. I've always wondered if there was some good way to date these M1875 Mamelukes. For example, did the pre-WWI examples have a heavier blade as was the case with pre-WWI Marine M1859 NCO swords?"

    Since this post, I have been giving a lot of thought/research as to how to date M1875 mamelukes, but have unfortunately made little progress. When the mameluke was again adopted by the USMC in 1875, the pre-war brass scabbard with the center ridge was replaced by a nickel-plated scabbard with gilt mountings, and certain features of the sword were more standardized, e.g. the acorn finials on the guard, the circular grip fasteners with raised stars, and the dual fullers on the end portion of the blade. The earliest examples were etched “U.S. MARINES” on a pennant on both sides of the blade. By WWI, however, the etching pattern had changed to the current version with the fully spelled out “UNITED STATES MARINES” on both sides of the blade. Other than that expansion of the "U.S.", the design of the sword and its elements has remained remarkably consistent from 1875 to date.

    The material used for the grips is probably the most obvious variable. The early examples all used genuine ivory, but in the 20th century a number of faux-ivory substitutes began to be used, and these can provide some indication of the age of a particular sword. As an indicator, however, it is limited by the extensive overlap in the time-frames of the different materials - genuine ivory was still used at least until the 1950s for some high-grade swords.

    If the officers name is on the sword, this provides a good clue to the probable date of the sword since most officers acquired their swords upon commissioning, but there is always the possiblity the sword is a replacement for a lost or damaged one.

    Finally, the maker/distributor's marks/logos can be a good indicator of the date of manufacture, but I am unaware of any comprehensive dated listing of these readily available for reference.

    I'd really appreciate any thoughts on how we can date USMC mamelukes.
    Last edited by Richard Schenk; 02-26-2016 at 10:23 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Glen C. View Post
    Considering the regulations recanted in several texts, it seems unlikely a brass hilt mameluke would have been used by the USMC.

    Here is a good overall article from Cureton via the old ASoAC pages
    https://web.archive.org/web/20111018...ton_marine.pdf


    Before the 1825 regulation there were other mameluke swords known to have been carried between Obannon's and 1825, everything after that initial order has been of ivory, or substitute white grips.

    Cheers

    Hotspur; not sure I would list your's after the ACW but it certainly has traits of later years
    Tim,

    I have to agree with Glen, this does not look to be a USMC sword - aside from the hilt's gross deviations from the regs, the blade is also inconsistant with either the M1826 or 1875 standards. In researching the USMC mameluke, however, I found that Civil War Preservations has a similar sword to your brass-hilted mameluke in its listing of Marine mamelukes in its eBook Swords of Honor. (Note especially the acorn finials.) I disagree with their attribution as well. They seem to attribute any mameluke with American connections to the Marines, but in fact the mameluke style sword became very popular in England and France in the early 1800s, and undoubtedly many were made for the US market in general, not just for the marines.

    Name:  Brass Hilted Mameluke.jpg
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  23. #23
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    Richard, I agree that the above sword is unlikely to have a USMC connection. But unless there are markings on it, it seems to be a USA sword. Do you have more photos?
    When compared to my Ames hilt they appear to be the same.
    Attached Images Attached Images   

  24. #24
    Agreed. For me they look more like USA swords....

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by T. Graham View Post
    Richard, I agree that the above sword is unlikely to have a USMC connection. But unless there are markings on it, it seems to be a USA sword. Do you have more photos?
    When compared to my Ames hilt they appear to be the same.
    Here are a few more photos:

    Name:  Brass Hilted Mameluke2.jpg
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    For comparison, here are some photos of a probably contemporary pre-1881 Ames Manufacturing Co M1875 USMC mameluke. The acorns look identical:

    Name:  M1875 USMC Ames Mameluke 1.JPG
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    Last edited by Richard Schenk; 02-26-2016 at 02:20 PM. Reason: Add info & photos

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