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Thread: M1872 and M1872/80 Saber Scabbards

  1. #1
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    M1872 and M1872/80 Saber Scabbards

    A question for Forum members: Have any of you ever seen a M1872 Cavalry Officer’s saber or a M1872/80 Field and Cavalry Officer’s saber with a browned scabbard?

    Some background: Early M1860/72 S&F swords produced by Springfield were sold with two scabbards, one with a browned body for everyday wear, and one with a nickel-plated body for dress wear. This practice was discontinued in 1882 by General Order 121, after which the nickel-plated scabbard was to be worn for all occasions. It would not be surprising if the same rules were applied to swords worn by mounted officers, and that Springfield would have made browned scabbards for the M1872 Cavalry Officers’ sabers, and for the M1872/80 Field and Cavalry Officers’ sabers produced in 1880 and 1881. I have corresponded on this point with two noted experts on Springfield swords, both of whom have done considerable research in the archived Springfield Armory records. One is adamant browned scabbards were produced by Springfield for sale to Army officers, while the other is equally certain that, with one possible exception, only nickel-plated scabbards were provided for these sabers.

    It seems this question would be resolved if examples of browned scabbards could be found. Springfield only made about 106 M1872 Cavalry Officers’ sabers and only about 203 M1872/80 sabers before browned scabbards were discontinued in 1882. Browned scabbards, if they were produced, would therefore be relatively rare, but it seems at least some should have survived. If any members have, or are aware of, such a scabbard, I would appreciate the details. Thanks.

  2. #2
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    I saw one years ago, but it did not seem to be made for the saber that was in it. This was in Connecticut at a gun show, and the owner was a well known expert on Springfield Armory. He was unsure himself on this saber...(It was Brophy and Kellerstedt who had it..)

    Dale

  3. #3
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    Dale, thanks for the response. Do you remember if your sighting was before or after Kellerstedt published his work? If Burton Kellerstedt had the sword you saw before he published, I wonder why he didn't mention it. Even if it was later, I'm surprised he never wrote about it unless he was convinced it wasn't authentic.

    I would like to interpret the lack of any other responses to my question to mean no other members have seen such a scabbard, but I suppose, however, it may just be no one really cares about such an esoteric topic.

  4. #4
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    I cannot remember exactly when it was, and he apparently thought it was not authentic..He mentioned the existence, but did not
    Have one, as best as I can recall...

    Dale

  5. #5
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    I had one for several years before I sold it to make room for other acquisitions. First-signature SA M1880. The scabbard was evenly browned, even under the gilded furniture. No idea if it was Armory work or not.

  6. #6
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    Of interest to the above discussion is a sword which was just sold on our favorite auction site. It is a commercially-made M1872/80 Field and Cavalry Officer sword with a browned scabbard marketed by J. H. McKenney of New York. Unfortunately, mine was not the winning bid. It was in excellent condition and was etched on the obverse side of the blade with the inscription, in old English letters, “Major Wm. S. Duncan, Surgeon, 22d Regt N.G.S.N.Y.” (Was not able to find this officer with a quick internet search, but should be able to find him in the records.) I was surprised a medical officer would have worn this sword, but I guess he was a Field Grade officer in addition to being a surgeon.
    This must have been a very early example. I don’t know which company actually produced it - McKinney itself or some other foreign or domestic subcontractor - but whichever it must have done so almost immediately after the M1872 was redesigned in 1880. Two reasons for this assessment. First is that the firm of J. H. McKenney was bought out by Ridabock in 1880. It is unlikely Ridabock would have continued to use the McKenney name much beyond that date. Second, as discussed above, use of browned/blued scabbards was discontinued in 1882 IAW General Order 121. If this sword was made after GO121, it would have had a nickel-plated scabbard.

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  7. #7
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  8. #8
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    Thanks Sean. The infoy which shows Maj. Duncan's DOR as a field grade officer was in early 1880 strongly supports an early, c.1880, production date for this sword. I really regret not having put in a higher final bid.
    Last edited by Richard Schenk; 01-16-2018 at 04:49 PM.

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