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Thread: M1861 Cutlass by Tiffany

  1. #1
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    M1861 Cutlass by Tiffany

    I would like to draw on the collective knowledge of the Forum members for some information I need for a potential article on the M1861 Navy cutlass, specifically on Tiffany and possibly other non-Ames versions of this model.

    I have seen a number of allusions to a Tiffany M1861 cutlass in the literature, but virually nothing specific beyond a statement of their existence and rarity. The Medicus collection contained one, but the only thing I could tell from Fledermann’s photo was that it looked like any other M1861 cutlass. Lot 166 in Cowen’s spring 2008 auction included three M1861 cutlasses, “one Clauberg and two Ames” (NFI). Could the Clauberg blade have been a Tiffany import, or was it by yet another non-Ames maker?

    My questions for the members:

    - When and for whom were the Tiffany cutlasses made? As far as I know Ames had the only government contract, and since the cutlasses were not an item of individual issue, it seems the private purchase potential would be limited. Were they made for a State or non-government contract? Who used them?

    - How were they marked? Fledermann says the Medicus example was marked “Tiffany&Co/New York”. Were there other markings, e.g. “PDL”, king's head, or other maker's mark?

    - Are there pictures other than the Medicus example available? Where?

    - Did any companies other than Ames and Tiffany make M1861 cutlasses? (I am aware of the SH&G “Niagara” cutlasses, but I understand these were made by Ames for SH&G.)

    Thanks for the help!
    Last edited by Richard Schenk; 03-14-2015 at 01:46 PM.

  2. #2
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    Based on the total lack of responses since I posted this question two weeks ago, I take it the collective Forum knowledge about Tiffany and/or other non-Ames producers of M1861 Naval cutlasses is as lacking as my individual knowledge. If anyone should ever happen upon such information in the future, I'd love to hear it.

  3. #3
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    I have a Tiffany-marked M1861 cutlass.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dmitry Z~G View Post
    I have a Tiffany-marked M1861 cutlass.
    Dmitry,

    I envy you! I've never seen one, much less had the opportunity to own one. I have a ton of questions about this cutlass which you may be able to answer:

    - How is yours marked? Presumably it has the Tiffany name/address as described in the Medicus example. Does it also have a PDL, Clauberg or other maker's mark on the blade? Any inspection or other marks showing USN or State ownership? I presume there is no serial number on the quillon.

    - Aside from the markings, does the Tiffany cutlass differ at all from the Ames?

    - Does your cutlass still have the original wire-wrapped leather grip, or has the wire been removed and the leather jacked as with most Ames examples? This could show post-war use by the Navy.

    - Does your example have a scabbard? Does it differ at all from the Ames? Does it have a serial number (which might indicate it is an Ames scabbard)?

    I would greatly appreciate it is you could post some pictures of your cutlass, especially the markings. Thanks.

    Dick

  5. #5
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    I have received some additional information regarding a Tiffany-marked M1861 cutlass. This particular cutlass does not have a maker's mark, e.g. Clauberg, but is stamped on the knuckle bow with the name of the receiving ship, the USRC Harriet Lane. This suggests to me the following explanation for the Tiffany and perhaps other non-Ames produced M1861 cutlasses:

    - The M1861 cutlass was introduced right at the beginning of the Civil War and the Navy required all it could get to meet its expanding needs. The Revenue Cutter Service also wanted to equip its ships with the new model, but the Navy was taking up all of Ames' cutlass production capability and was not prepared to share it with the RCS. The RCS was therefore forced to turn to Tiffany and possibly other suppliers to obtain M1861 cutlasses to equip its ships such as the USRC Harriet Lane.

    What do you think of the above scenario?
    Last edited by Richard Schenk; 04-28-2015 at 12:25 PM.

  6. #6
    Hi Richard,

    I was watching your thread with interest as I also have never seen pictures but have recently seen one for sale (outside my price range) at www.civilwarpreservations.com. Some good pictures and with the markings well shown.
    David.

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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by David. L View Post
    Hi Richard,

    I was watching your thread with interest as I also have never seen pictures but havetla recently seen one for sale (outside my price range) at www.civilwarpreservations.com. Some good pictures and with the markings well shown.
    David.
    David, thanks for the lead. I had never heard of, much less seen a Tiffany M1861 officer's cutlass. It is certainly different than the Ames officers cutlass (see photos). They allude to another that had a CW-dated inscription, so maybe it is CW era, but just looking at the etchings and the narrow blade, it certainly looks post-war. I don't know whether this officers version is related to the enlisted version or not - an interesting question. In any case, it is certainly out of my price range.

    This is the Ames Officer Model:

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    Last edited by Richard Schenk; 04-28-2015 at 07:24 PM.

  9. #9
    Yes, a bit fancy for shipboard use. Locked away in the admiral's cabin perhaps.
    I'm still hoping that Dmitry will turn up with some pictures of the enlisted version.

  10. #10
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    A sister site, "Civil War Talk. currently has a thread dealing with the Tiffany cutlass. It's worth checking out if you are interested in American cutlasses. The Tiffany looks quite like the Ames cutlass but lacks the Ames markings and serial numbers and the grip has fewer winds of wire. The one in the CW Talk tread seems like the Medicus example with the same markings. Although the grip has fewer winds of wire than the Ames CW-dated cutlasses, it appears to have more than the late-century Ames models discussed by myself and Mr. Roxbury in other threads, e.g. the Niagara cutlasses.

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    As noted above, forum member Dmitry also owned a Tiffany cutlass. Dmitri's example was stamped on the knuckle guard "USRC HARRIET LANE". If this inscription is authentic, it would imply the sword was made prior to 1863 when the Harriet Lane was captured by the Confederates. Why the RCS would have bought cutlasses from Tiffany is unknown. Charlie Pate, who has done considerable research on USRM/RCS weapons procurement, tells us the RCS had no problem obtaining cutlasses from Ames in 1861/2-timeframe. Both the Medicus and the CW Talk examples appear to have had the grip wires removed and the leather jacked in the same manner as Ames cutlasses which were retained in service after the war, which implies they were also retained in service. It is not known if Dmitri'sgrips had also been modified.

    Any thoughts?
    Last edited by Richard Schenk; 12-23-2019 at 04:10 PM.

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