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Thread: U.S. Mounted Dragoon Saber - Trying to determine date of manufacture?

  1. #1

    Question U.S. Mounted Dragoon Saber - Trying to determine date of manufacture?

    Reaching out to the community for determining the actual date of manufacture for this Mounted Dragoon saber. It is signed Cooper, New York on the blade. However, I believe the sword to be 1818 to 1825 manufacture and Cooper, New York was not in business until 1840 or so - I think. Any help or assistance in dating this saber is much appreciated. Thanks - Jay
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  2. #2
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    Welcome aboard.

    I'll check some resources here but how are you determining a start date for Cooper? Then, how are you determining a seven year window for manufacture?

    I have a photo file of a Wolfe marked sabre that is similar and could be an even earlier manufacture, with the retailer name very possibly added well after manufacture. That could easily be the case here and the Cooper etch added well after the original mixed panel work. I have suggested the mixed panel work could easily have been used for sales of the 1830s and 1840s. The mixed panels a discussion that has been brought up a few times here but I wouldn't paint that, nor the sword type as limited to a few brief years.

    The recycle of these old, truly p1796 swords burgeoning with surplus after England's Napoleonic years and with their own sword patterns of the 1820s, I can easily see the larger of the p1796 bladed swords on the US market for a long time.



    Cheers
    GC

  3. #3
    Thanks Glen for your information. I believe the Cooper, New York address was in business in the early 1840's. I know this style sword was manufactured earlier. Like you said, it is possible that Cooper purchased and retailed these swords in the 1840's. This is probably my best answer. Thank you for sending your example as reference. It is a very nice sword as well.

    Best
    Jay

  4. #4
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    A very nice looking example. As Glen notes, it is essentially a British p1796 saber, a design widely used by cavalry/dragoon units worldwide including the US. According to the Old Swords database, Benjamin and Joseph Cooper of New York began importing words in about 1811 - no end date is given (will check Bezdek when I get home). Although most attribute these tri-color blades to the 1830s/1840s, the technique was being used at least by the early 1820s. and possibly even earlier.

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    Funny, I didn't even bother to look at Old Swords but just looked at Bezdek and another list from Bazelon. I imagine Benjamin and Jerimiah are going to show in Bezdek's 1812 book as well but from the big books, it indicates Maiden Lane activity both before (1790s) and after the 1812 war with listings as a gunsmith and mercantile goods, including military goods until about 1840. After that listed as a grocer. It may be the Joseph was B&J listing prewar. B&J Cooper listed as buying swords from Starr. From some brief digging from those two books, I would place my bet on this family business but still no closer to a date of manufacture.

    Two other listings for a Cooper in Bezdek and Bazelon
    One Henry&Albert during the 1840s merchants
    and Garrett Cooper 1844-1853 as a silversmith/dealer including sword fittings.

    When we look at this mixed panel sword, the Cooper etch, to me, looks a lot plainer and an easy stencil they might have used. In other mixed panel work, the retailer or cutler often part of the gold in the b&g at the base of the blade, or otherwise more in tune with that needle etching and not what we see here.

    Cheers
    GC

    There are actually many more Cooper listings in Bezdek but have pulled the most relevant. Both authors often relying on city almanacs and digests. I briefly ran a search and with the name simply very common, that is a homework assignment for another day. There is a huge cache of family papers that although interesting, is probably not the immediate family we are looking for.
    Last edited by Glen C.; 11-04-2018 at 01:12 PM.

  6. #6
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    Bezdek has a bit more to say about the Coopers in his second volume. If I read it correctly, Thomas Cooper emigrated from Birmingham to New York in 1804 with his sons Jeremiah, Joseph, and Benjamin, and set up business selling swords, guns, and military goods. He died in 1811 and was succeeded in business by the firm of Benjamin and Joseph Cooper; Jeremiah ran a gun shop in another of the family New York locations. They sold swords obtained from Starr, Henry, and a Bartholomew Cooper, a relative back in Birmingham. They seemed to be particularly active in cavalry sabers from 1814 through the early post-war years.

    If I were to guess, I would guess this sword is one imported by B&J Cooper from their relative in Birmingham, which would suggest a relatively early date, perhaps in the 1820s.

  7. #7
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    Good digs Richard. I literally had a pot boiling and only checked a couple of books. If you have the Hartzler volumes handy, there may be yet more. I'll look over coffee but Hartzler likely just follows Bezdek's notes.

    Cheers
    GC

  8. #8

    Many Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by Glen C. View Post
    Good digs Richard. I literally had a pot boiling and only checked a couple of books. If you have the Hartzler volumes handy, there may be yet more. I'll look over coffee but Hartzler likely just follows Bezdek's notes.

    Cheers
    GC
    Thanks Richard and Glen for your investigative hard work. I originally thought this saber was issued to a Dragoon Officer by private purchase in the early 1840's. However, your information possibly dates this saber to the 1820's which would be closer to the actual manufacture of the saber. (possibly Starr). Many thanks to both of you for your information and comments.

    Jay

  9. #9
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    Definitely British made, not Starr.

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    Bezdek does indeed expand his notes in VII, which by itself a reason for folks to find the second volume. In looking at Hartzler's newer books, he skips a lot of Bezdek's notes but adds a bit beyond that with company markings from different periods. That passage would indicate the mark as shown on the blade as earlier than later. We may have to rethink a starting date for the mixed panel swords and indeed, the sword mark may have been done after how some were marked. Hartzler shows three examples, two of them these p1796 type sabres and the stand alone Cooper, with no other initials as the earlier of those two swords.

    Cheers
    GC
    Last edited by Glen C.; 11-06-2018 at 10:49 AM.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Glen C. View Post
    Bezdek does indeed expand his notes in VII, which by itself a reason for folks to find the second volume. In looking at Hartzler's newer books, he skips a lot of Bezdek's notes but adds a bit beyond that with company markings from different periods. That passage would indicate the mark as shown on the blade as earlier than later. We may have to rethink a starting date for the mixed panel swords and indeed, the sword mark may have been done after how some were marked. Hartzler shows three examples, two of them these p1796 type sabres and the stand alone Cooper, with no other initials as the earlier of those two swords.

    Cheers
    GC
    So Glen, do you feel the manufacture date is between 1820-1825? Or earlier? What about the style of eagle presented on the sword blade.It looks to be a later dated eagle than the early eagle types on sword blades. I know it is difficult to date swords by the eagle presence but just asking for an opinion.

    Thanks Glen

    Jay

  12. #12
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    It is really difficult (imo) to exactly date such pieces. More to the point if dating the manufacture would be the use of the mixed panels and the stylings of the white etch decorations. Even if we entirely define a time a mark was being used, it could have been done so on something earlier and even later than we might expect.

    Matching up decorative elements can be a laborious study, or more readily evident. I like the terms "possibly" and "perhaps" rather than absolutes but yes, possibly etched between 1820 and 1825

    Cheers
    GC

  13. #13

    Many Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by Glen C. View Post
    It is really difficult (imo) to exactly date such pieces. More to the point if dating the manufacture would be the use of the mixed panels and the stylings of the white etch decorations. Even if we entirely define a time a mark was being used, it could have been done so on something earlier and even later than we might expect.

    Matching up decorative elements can be a laborious study, or more readily evident. I like the terms "possibly" and "perhaps" rather than absolutes but yes, possibly etched between 1820 and 1825

    Cheers
    GC

    Glen,
    Thank you for your expertise and knowledge on the sword. I also learned that this was probably the sword of a high ranking officer. The backstrap is "faceted" (flat back) which was a harder manufacture process to complete and only done for officers of the time. Thanks again for your remarks.


    Jay

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