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Thread: Revenue Cutter/Revenue Marine Service Swords

  1. #1
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    Revenue Cutter/Revenue Marine Service Swords

    Revenue Marine Service and Revenue Cutter Service swords are all rather rare which I suppose is to be expected given the small size of these USCG predecessors in the 19th century. However I was just looking at a USCG site which addresses the uniforms worn by these Services in the period 1790-1889 (https://www.uscg.mil/history/uscghis...hotos_1889.asp). It included about a dozen photos of officers in uniform with their swords. One clearly shows an officer with a M1834 Revenue Marine sword, and a second shows an officer with what may be the pommel of a Revenue Marine sword showing. What surprised me, however, is that the majority seemed to be wearing Navy officer swords, mainly M1852s, but at least one had a M1841 eagle head. My question is, did most USRMS/USRCS officers in fact wear USN swords instead of their own Service's design? If so, why? Perhaps cost - i suspect the M1834 with its fancy design and sterling silver grip was rather expensive to produce. If in fact many officers used Navy swords, that would further explain the scarcity of 19th century USRMS/USRCS officer swords.

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  2. #2
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    Funny you should ask... I just purchased a Revenue Cutter Service Officer sword at SOS and it is the sword pictured above that looks much like a Model 1852 US Navy Officer sword.

    This sword, like the later USCG Officer sword, has slight variances that make it a Revenue Cutter Service sword. First, the ribbon on the guard has the letters "USRCS" instead of "USN" cast in it. Second, The sword blade is slightly curved instead of being straight like later Naval Officer swords and the scabbard is black leather with hand engraved fittings. Third, the ribbon on the blade is etched with "USRCS" and the etched flag motif that normally is etched with "USN" is left blank. This example is also etched with the owner name on the blade and his initials are engraved on the back of the top scabbard mount. The sword blade is also marked "Germany" and has the distributor name etched on the ricasso.

    I was very pleased to find this sword at the militaria show as I have been looking for one of these swords for a long time.

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

  3. #3
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    Congrats on the new sword. You don't see many of them. I got mine in 2015 as part of a multi-item lot of Navy swords. I sent you a lot of photos of it at the time. See thread http://www.swordforum.com/forums/sho...ht=usrcs+sword. My USRCS sword is very similar to yours and was also retailed by Heiberger, but there are a couple slight differences. On mine the retailer name is perpendicular to the edge, while yours is parallel, and whereas the pennant on the ships mast on your sword is blank, mine is marked "USN". I presume this was just an oversight by whomever was modifying the Navy etching template for USRCS use.

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    Have you been able to trace your swords owner? Might give a clue to the date. Mine is not personalized, so I really can't narrow it down anymore than between 1894 when the USRCS started using that name and 1915 when it was merged into the USCG.
    Last edited by Richard Schenk; 02-28-2017 at 06:30 PM.

  4. #4
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    Dick,
    I do recall your sword and it is just as neat as a pin! I had forgotten that yours was also retailed by Heiberger and it is interesting that the blade etching is done slightly differently.

    My sword is named but it is hard to read and I have not yet done any research on the owner. The name seems to be "Muller S. Day" or perhaps "Hay" but I am not sure and the intricately entwined initials engraved on the scabbard throat are no help either. I was told that the previous owner (I got it from a dealer) had identified the fellow to service on the Revenue Cutter Ship Thetis (first wooden USRCS ship of this name) from the Bering Sea Patrol Fleet circa 1908-1910. If anyone can read this name better than me I am open to suggestions.

    George
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  5. #5
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    George,

    - Your lad appears to be John Stunz Hay, born 14 Apr 1879 in Fairview, Erie, Pennsylvania and died 12 Oct 1944 in Altadena, Los Angeles, California. He attended the college in Ann Arbor, Michigan, then attended the USCG Academy (then presumably called the USRCS Academy) in New London, CT graduating in 1904, which would presumably be the approximate date of your sword. He retired as a USCG Captain in about 1934 in California. There is quite a bit of info about him in the ancestry.com databases.

  6. #6
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    Many thanks Dick! His first name / nickname is why I did not see him right off the bat I suppose.

    Another interesting thing about my sword is that the hand engraved scabbard fittings are all dome head riveted, not stapled or screwed, to the leather scabbard. Are your Heiberger fittings attached in a similar manner?
    "You can't please everyone, so you have to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

  7. #7
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    Boy did I goof! The name is Muller Stanz Hay, just as it says on the blade, not John. I have no idea why I wrote John - perhaps I got a mental wire crossed with John Hay, Lincoln's private secretary. (I'm currently reading a Lincoln biography.) More likely it was just another senior moment! Whichever, sorry about the confusion.

    I'm not sure about the scabbard mountings. I will check it out and let you know.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by George Wheeler View Post
    Another interesting thing about my sword is that the hand engraved scabbard fittings are all dome head riveted, not stapled or screwed, to the leather scabbard. Are your Heiberger fittings attached in a similar manner?
    My scabbard fittings are held by slotted screws. Did you see the USRCS sword listed by Gunderson a while back? (http://www.gundersonmilitaria.com/swordusrcs.jpg) It was also a Heiberger product personalized to a J. L. Ingle, Jr. I haven't researched the name. This sword is quite close to mine, but in addition to the pennant on the mast being marked "USN", the inscription on the scroll was also still rendered "U.S.N." rather than "U.S.R.C.S." as on our two swords. I believe M.C. Lilley company was the maker of these Heiberger swords. Apparently "zero defects" was not the guiding principle in their etching department. The Gunderson example also had slotted screws like mine. Here are a couple photos of the Gunderson/Ingle sword:

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    Last edited by Richard Schenk; 03-02-2017 at 12:21 PM.

  9. #9

    Revenue Cutter/Revenue Marine Service Swords

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Size:  52.9 KBHere is a 1834 in my collection

  10. #10
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Size:  24.8 KBAnd an early 1870 by Hortsmann named to James A. Doyle to Name:  6e_1.jpg
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    Last edited by GC Roxbury; 03-03-2017 at 06:39 AM.

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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Schenk View Post
    Boy did I goof! The name is Muller Stanz Hay, just as it says on the blade, not John. I have no idea why I wrote John - perhaps I got a mental wire crossed with John Hay, Lincoln's private secretary. (I'm currently reading a Lincoln biography.) More likely it was just another senior moment! Whichever, sorry about the confusion.

    I'm not sure about the scabbard mountings. I will check it out and let you know.
    Don't worry about the name change. I am just happy to wake up in the morning and remember my own name. I did see the Gunderson Militaria example. They all seem to be slightly different even though Heiberger retailed them all. I wonder if he had a contract on selling these to the Revenue Cutter Service or if he was the only one selling such a limited number item? At any rate it is good to know that those two had screws on the scabbard fittings while mine were riveted.

    Thanks for showing the elusive M1834 US Revenue Marine sword GC. Is yours marked "USRM" on the guard like the Horstmann example? I wonder what the service dates for Doyle were?

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

  14. #14
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    Two really nice examples! Have you ever found any good information on the dates of the second small sword, i.e. date it was introduced and when it was superceded by the M1852/72 Navy-like model? The most I've seen is "introduced in the 1870s" and replaced "before 1889". I know both versions are rare as proverbial hens' teeth, but based on the number I've seen come up at auction, etc, the later version seems it may be rarer than the older model.

  15. #15
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    According to the 1892 roster of USRCS officers, James A. Doyle was a Chief Engineer assigned to the steamer Wolcott out of Port Townsend, Washington. He had been in that assignment since 20 Apr 1891. He was a New Yorker who had been a Chief Engineer since 6 June 1866.

  16. #16
    The 1834 did not have the USRM on the guard. Just the Revenue Marine shield on the guard and pommel reverse and the USRM devices on the scabbard mounts. This one is also by Hortsmann.

  17. #17
    While most references call this a 1870 I think they were introduced earlier as the blade weight and engraving style seem to place it to the mid 60's.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by George Wheeler View Post
    Don't worry about the name change. I am just happy to wake up in the morning and remember my own name. I did see the Gunderson Militaria example. They all seem to be slightly different even though Heiberger retailed them all. I wonder if he had a contract on selling these to the Revenue Cutter Service or if he was the only one selling such a limited number item? At any rate it is good to know that those two had screws on the scabbard fittings while mine were riveted.

    Thanks for showing the elusive M1834 US Revenue Marine sword GC. Is yours marked "USRM" on the guard like the Horstmann example? I wonder what the service dates for Doyle were?

    George
    On the Heiberger question, probably the latter. Remember that the Cutter School was just outside Baltimore, and the cutter service was very small. In 1899 the class size was only 18. That puts Hiberger close to the source of a really small market; I wonder if any other retailers in other areas of the country would find it practicable to stock USRCS swords given the tiny market.

  19. #19
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    That supposition certainly sounds logical Josh. Thanks for your thoughts concerning Heiberger.

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

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