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Thread: Mystery Sword

  1. #1

    Mystery Sword

    Years ago I inherited this sword from my grandfather. He could tell me nothing of it's origins. My grandparents lived in Chenango County in Upstate NY. My grandfather spoke of the sword as if it had already been in the family when he was a boy. He was born in 1905. At that time, apparently, the scabbard was intact. He told me that it was ruined when some kid took it outside to play with it, and left it there in the rain.

    I have looked for similar swords online, and in museums I have visited, to no avail. Any help here would be greatly appreciated.
    Attached Images Attached Images      

  2. #2
    Looks to me like a US officer's sword, ca. 1800.

    Others will undoubtably provide a more accurate ID!

    --ElJay

  3. #3
    Thanks so much!

  4. #4
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    M1790 NCO one of my favorite and most beautiful. One of the early regulation swords for US. Kinda sorta
    The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people." --- Tench Coxe

  5. #5
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    These come in different blade styles and fullers. Lemuel Wells imported the officer etched b&g blades and installed cherry grips. There are also black horn grips on officer models and all plain blades are black horn. These were used in War of 1812 and were too late (1790) for Revolutionary War but are often sold as such. I believe this style was sold as late as 1810.
    The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people." --- Tench Coxe

  6. #6
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    In the old testament
    The American Sword 1775 1945
    https://www.amazon.com/American-1775.../dp/1258507218

    Harold Peterson has an example sword #5 in the section for infantry enlisted swords NCO 1790-1810
    Somewhat readable on Google books, the blurb for this sword is presented there, both the image plate and text pages 8-10
    https://books.google.com/books?id=x-...page&q&f=false

    My example has a blade just 27"


    Some were decorated blades with blue&gilt

    There were also decorated and plain straight blade examples with the same hilt. Both my curved and straight examples have horn grips. I cannot be sure from your picture if your's is horn or wood. The horn grips were steamed then compressed in a mold. The sharpness of your grip leads me to believe your's is wood.



    I might argue that the pronounced capstan for the tang peen might place it earlier but there were a lot of these done. The pommel somewhere between an urn and pillow pommel type but closer to an urn in shape. I have also seen white bone gripped examples, both curved and straight but those appear less frequently. I have little doubt that a NY sword didn't travel far from its early carry and one can be fairly sure a type seen in the 1812 conflicts, with upper NY state figuring fairly prominently.

    I also like to think these hilts were the types carried by the Lewis&Clark expedition, as the timeline fits but my notion perhaps a bit romantic.

    The last posts of a conservation thread listed at the top here will direct you to some of the care and feeding. The tired condition can be somewhat refreshed and at least stabilized. Many an old sword has seen the ravages and misuse by young boys but keep in mind that many of the old wars were boys themselves.

    Cheers

    GC

  7. #7
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    A Wells marked decorated blade and a prettier than mine straight bladed example.

    open image in a new tab for a larger view


    Oh so pretty but some years after I had found mine


    A more faceted pommel in the same vein that has sold a few times



    Another white gripped saber


    A white grip straight bladed example


    So ya, one might think I save images. I do and it gives me a lot to ponder but also to appreciate without needing to physically absorb all of them. I have more images for all examples I have posted.

    Cheers

    GC

  8. #8
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    I have one just like it but with an iron hilt. I was told years ago iron iron was army and brass guard was cavalry and both circa War 1812. Horn grip is supposedly from water buffalo.

  9. #9
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    Some of the brass ones were silvered as well. My straight bladed one was. I had fooled around with a silver solution that works fairly well. The scabbard got some nourishment as well. Most of the original silver was gone from the hilt but not the scabbard fittings and the blade side of the guard, the guard showing a lot of silver on that (blade) side. In some years of handling, the wear is showing again.


    The Medicus Collection book from Flayderman and Mowbray shows both a sabre and a straight job (in the back section).

    The vague regulations for the US military (per Peterson in the linked book) goes back well before the 1812 conflict.

    Cheers

    GC

  10. #10
    Wow! Thank you so much for all that information! It was especially great to see what the original scabbard looked like.

    I told my mother (our family's resident genealogist) about the information you have posted. You help us connect the sword to a specific ancestor. She writes:

    "John Rock Enos fought in the War of 1812. He was born Oct. 26, 1774 to Stephen and Mary Rock Enos. Earlier generations were from Con. And RI. I don't know where his parents were from. He was born on Black Island, wherever that is. He died at the Card farm [the family farm in Chenango County, NY, where my grandparents still lived when I was growing up - Andrew] Nov. 17, 1868. ...
    I have copy of the order which made him an Ensign in the NYS Militia under Lieut. Colonel Randal Spencer, dated 4/22/1802 and signed by NYS Gov. George Clinton. I suspect strongly that the sword was his... Oh yes, it was the militia in Rensselaer County."

    Once again, thank you all for helping us connect a family artifact to a specific ancestor.

  11. #11
    Join Date
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    Hi Andrew,

    I imagine the Black Island reference ought to read as Block Island off the south coast of RI and CT.

    It is nice when a timeline fits nicely to a family member's service.

    Cheers

    GC
    Last edited by Glen C.; 12-30-2017 at 10:37 AM.

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