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Thread: US Navy Officers' Cutlass with decorated pommel

  1. #1

    US Navy Officers' Cutlass with decorated pommel

    This is a unique variant of the Ames Naval Officer Cutlass. In addition to the pommel decoration there is what appears to be an eagle engraved inside the guard. The USNA collection contains an example with the decorated pommel but not sure if it has the other decoration. It came with an enlisted type scabbard that really does not belong with it.
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  2. #2
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    An interesting sword. I've seen a number with the decorated pommel, all of which, IIRC, were uninspected and thus probably private purchase pieces. I have never, however, seen one with the engraving inside the hilt. To me it looks more like a folate design than an eagle, but who knows? I wonder if it was added at a different time? The style just doesn't seem to match the rest of the sword. You don't show the scabbard. Are you sure it was enlisted? Aside from the final rivet there was little or no difference between the officer and enlisted versions. Typically the officer scabbard would have the final rivet decorated with a star within a rope border, however you quite often see one with just a star, often looking more like a cog wheel. Kevin Hoffmann showed a couple examples in his "Swords of Honor" eBook.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by GC Roxbury View Post
    This is a unique variant of the Ames Naval Officer Cutlass. In addition to the pommel decoration there is what appears to be an eagle engraved inside the guard. The USNA collection contains an example with the decorated pommel but not sure if it has the other decoration. It came with an enlisted type scabbard that really does not belong with it.
    If this cutlass had inspector initials, it would be incorrect. None of the officers models were inspected, but they do have the 1862 date.
    The additionally acanthus leaf embellishment is found on examples of this cutlass...I don't see an eagle.
    What I am not seeing, is the scroll Ames mfg marking.... or u.s.n....but there are several variations found....
    The correct scabbard would have a star on the toe. Otherwise, as you suggest, it has been married.

  4. #4
    I did not include the Ames scroll on the reverse in the original post but it is there. No inspectors marks. The U S N cutout is the correct style lettering. The decorative engraving, "eagle" or "foliate" is consistent with the rest of the engraved lines inside the guard. as for the scabbard as you can see the tip had been lost and a makeshift leather repair has been added so the scabbard may have been an officer's one but I lean toward it being a replacement.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simon R. View Post
    If this cutlass had inspector initials, it would be incorrect. None of the officers models were inspected, but they do have the 1862 date.
    I must respectfully disagree with you regarding the inspector initials. Just as the 500 M1852 Officer swords purchased from Ames under Navy contract were inspected and marked "R.B.H." for inspector Robert B. Hichkok, so were the M1861 officers' cutlasses purchased under Navy contract inspected by Daniel Reynolds and marked with his initials, "D.R.". In the case of the enlist version, many early-date examples are found without inspector marks. Charlie Pate states this is because early on the Navy did not have an inspector present at Ames to do the inspections, and, even though an attempt was made after Reynolds was hired to go back and inspect cutlasses already acquired, many were missed. I don't know if I fully agree with Charlie, but if correct, the same may be true of officer's examples.

    Here is an example of an inspected officers' model:

    Name:  Officer Cutlass with Belt 1.jpg
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Size:  47.6 KBName:  Officer Cutlass Inspector Marks comp.jpg
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    The Navy bought the first batch of these officers' cutlasses from Ames in 1861 at a cost of $10.15 each, including the belt and frog. It took delivery of a final batch of 18 cutlasses in February 1866 at the cost of $25 each plus $5.50 for the sword belt. Inflation. Most examples I have seen have been dated 1862. If I recall correctly, I have seen at least one each 1861 and 1863, but no later dates, although given the delivery as late as 1866 they may exist.

    The officer model cutlass was also available for private purchase, and these would not have been inspected. They were made at least as late as the 1880s as is shown by the Proskin example from the Medicus collection marked with the "Ames Sword Company" address, a marking not used until 1881.

    Name:  Officer Medicus ASC 10 comp.jpg
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    Last edited by Richard Schenk; 12-05-2017 at 11:20 AM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Schenk View Post
    I must respectfully disagree with you regarding the inspector initials. Just as the 500 M1852 Officer swords purchased from Ames under Navy contract were inspected and marked "R.B.H." for inspector Robert B. Hichkok, so were the M1861 officers' cutlasses purchased under Navy contract inspected by Daniel Reynolds and marked with his initials, "D.R.". In the case of the enlist version, many early-date examples are found without inspector marks. Charlie Pate states this is because early on the Navy did not have an inspector present at Ames to do the inspections, and, even though an attempt was made after Reynolds was hired to go back and inspect cutlasses already acquired, many were missed. I don't know if I fully agree with Charlie, but if correct, the same may be true of officer's examples.

    Here is an example of an inspected officers' model:

    Name:  Officer Cutlass with Belt 1.jpg
Views: 64
Size:  47.6 KBName:  Officer Cutlass Inspector Marks comp.jpg
Views: 64
Size:  56.3 KB

    The Navy bought the first batch of these officers' cutlasses from Ames in 1861 at a cost of $10.15 each, including the belt and frog. It took delivery of a final batch of 18 cutlasses in February 1866 at the cost of $25 each plus $5.50 for the sword belt. Inflation. Most examples I have seen have been dated 1862. If I recall correctly, I have seen at least one each 1861 and 1863, but no later dates, although given the delivery as late as 1866 they may exist.

    The officer model cutlass was also available for private purchase, and these would not have been inspected. They were made at least as late as the 1880s as is shown by the Proskin example from the Medicus collection marked with the "Ames Sword Company" address, a marking not used until 1881.

    Name:  Officer Medicus ASC 10 comp.jpg
Views: 65
Size:  54.5 KB
    I am happy to be corrected Richard, where can I find the source documents for the 1862 "USN" cutout officer's cutlasses delivered?

    Thank you.
    Simon

  7. #7
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    You have a fine, rare piece! Even if the scabbard is a marriage, or the end star did not survive, the cutlass looks fine (IMO)!

  8. #8
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    I am posting some pics of an 1862 Naval Officer's cutlass very similar to yours. Note the brass capstan/endcap over the tang...Also note the scabbard how it tapers to point and has not been shortened. It is exceedingly rare for the tip of a naval scabbard to have survived in tact, but if one did, this is what it looks like. It narrows evenly to the tip. I can assure you that everything on this piece is 100% correct....These were private purchase cutlasses made by Ames for Navy officer's and were decorated as seen fit.....
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    Last edited by Simon R.; 12-06-2017 at 06:31 PM.

  9. #9
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    I was browsing through Furr's book yesterday and it has a couple of pictures of a roped pommel and decorated basket.

    Neat stuff guys.

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