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Thread: US Navy Presentation Grade Sword WH Hortsmann & Sons

  1. #1

    US Navy Presentation Grade Sword WH Hortsmann & Sons

    Recent acquisition.

    Civil War Pattern 1852 Naval Officers’ Sword and Scabbard by W. H. Horstmann & Sons Philadelphia.

    This beautifully executed presentation grade sword has a metal grip, most likely pewter, simulating sharkskin and is wrapped with heavy gage triple gilt wire. The steel scabbard has regulation mounts that are finely engraved. The top mount contains a blank area for a presentation that is surrounded by floral and leaf designs and a star under the figure eight knot. The middle mount contains floral motifs and the bottom mount contains a fouled anchor and a American shield with leaf designs. The blade on this sword is exquisite. It contains the standard naval motifs found on Hortsmann swords but with a heavy gold washed background. The remainder of the blade contains a Damascus steel pattern. The top of the blade is etched with oak leafs. It is marked on the obverse ricasso W. H. Horstmann & Sons Philadelphia and stamped with the Weyersberg’s king’s head.

    My question is, has anyone ever seen the mark that is under the guard before?
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  2. #2
    I have my answer on the mark on this sword. Below is the response I received from another query about the sword. Consensus is that this is a composite sword made from original new old stock parts.

    "It’s the craftsman’s mark used by a sword restorer named Bill Jacobs, who placed his “double arrowhead” mark on every sword he repaired or put together. I knew Bill when I lived in the Boston area in the early Seventies, and I saw numerous examples of his repaired or restored swords. Bill was a skilled repairer and did many of the things we now call on others to do today. Bill’s repairs were always nicely done and looked great when completed. In addition, Bill could make up a sword using the correct parts, and no one could tell the parts had not started out life together.

    The only way you could tell Bill had done any work on a sword was to find his “double arrowhead” mark that he faithfully stamped on every sword that he repaired or restored. I think his personal mark on each sword he worked on reflected his pride in his work.

    Today, of course, the Bill Jacobs mark is relative unknown. But sword collectors from the Boston area who knew Bill during that time will recognize his well-known craftsman’s mark shaped like a double arrowhead."

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Annandale, VA
    Posts
    796
    I am not familiar with Mr. Jacobs work, but I’m more than willing to accept the word of those who are that this mark indicates he worked on this sword. The question is, exactly what and how much did he do to this sword?

    It really looks like this sword’s components, at least the blade and scabbard, were originally manufactured as presentation-grade components. At the end of the war Horstmann supposedly had literally barrels of surplus blades, and these were mounted with all sorts of hilts. I do not believe, however, that he had a large number of presentation-grade blades made with Damascus steel. It is difficult to be as certain about the hilt components, but they also seem to be of better quality than the normal production-run pieces.

    Based on this, I would suspect this isn’t a composite sword. I believe Mr. Jacobs may have done some repair/restoration, e.g. restoring the gilt, etc, but that the sword itself is an original. I have seen a number of top-quality Horstmann Naval and other officer swords using heavily gilt white etch decorations on Damascus steel blades. This sword looks to be of the same quality.

    I only have one of these top-quality Horstmann swords with a Damascus steel blade with heavily gilt white-etch designs. It is a M1840 general officer sword (AKA M1851 general officer sword). It is one of my favorites.

    Name:  Horstmann Gilt Blade 13.jpg
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  4. #4
    I was hoping that was going to be the case but after providing some detailed pictures to a few folks that were familiar with his work the opinion was that it was put together from new old stock Hortsmann parts and a scabbard fabricated. Your sword is a beauty.

  5. #5
    I remember years ago Flaydermann had for sale presentation grade blades for sale, and as recently as this past December a fellow collector told me he also had some of the quality old naval blades.

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