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Thread: 1810 Contract Horsemans Saber Nippes or Winner?

  1. #1
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    1810 Contract Horsemans Saber Nippes or Winner?

    Hello to the Forum,

    I recently purchased this saber and would appreciate your opinions concerning it. When bidding on the saber I thought it was made by Abraham Nippes, but certain features make me think it may have been made by James Winner.

    The scabbard is perfectly matched to the saber; in length, curvature, throat-to-hilt fit and patina. Inside the scabbard are the original wooden 'splints'.

    The saber is devoid of markings. The blade, while dark in places, has no pitting; perhaps suggesting that the wooden splints caused the piebald colorations based on varying tightness of wood-to-blade fit along its length.

    Hilt is massive as is the scabbard. Guard is 5 1/16" long by 5" high. Blade is 33 5/8" long when measured straight from top of spine to tip. Blade width at guard is 1 9/16". Scabbard is 34" long; throat is 2 1/16" high.

    Thanks for any input in advance.
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    Last edited by Harvey A; 02-29-2020 at 11:58 PM.

  2. #2
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    The blade does not have the ground stop as Winner swords have. I'm no expert on American swords but it looks more like US 1812 contract saber John Joseph Henry.
    Pg. 80 Swords & Sword Makers of the War of 1812

  3. #3
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    Stops

    Quote Originally Posted by Will Mathieson View Post
    The blade does not have the ground stop as Winner swords have. I'm no expert on American swords but it looks more like US 1812 contract saber John Joseph Henry.
    Pg. 80 Swords & Sword Makers of the War of 1812
    Thanks Will, good observation; but the ground stops are on the blade. Poor lighting up here this time of year, coupled with my poor photography made it appear as though they were missing.

    Here are a couple of photos showing them. There's some black crude (almost looks like really old cosmoline) on the obverse ricasso that complicates photographing the stop on that side; but both stops are definitely present.

    I added a shot of this sword beside an artillery officer's sword of a similar period. Except when placed alongside this monster the artillery officer saber is a large one compared to most of its peers.

    Harvey
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  4. #4
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    I am going with Nippes on this one. The bird head strap pommel has no droop to it toward pommel so not Winner and the large disk final on quillion. I at one time believed Nippes used the small disk but have come to believe it Henkels his son in law. Will, I believe is possibly correct although J.J. Henry swords seem more finished and somewhat less crude. My order of possibilities would be 1. Nippes, 2. J. J. Henry, 3. Henkels 4. Winner. Eric
    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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    I agree, it is probably a Nippes but Winner is a close runner up. It is definite not a Henry or a Henkels; those maker's hilts were smaller than the Winner/Nippes example. They also had a different pattern scabbard with bands holding the carrying rings like a M1812 Starr. The Winner/Nippes scabbard is really a rare bird. The Nippes saber the bottom in the below photo.


    Name:  Nippes 2 M1810 1.jpg
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  6. #6
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    I just received a PM from Harvey in which he pointed out his scabbard does not have the oval ring-mounting plates on his scabbard but does have what may have been a frog stud on the front. It really looks like a 2nd Virginia Manufacturer saber scabbard (with different length and curve). I haven't seen this variation his before. Here is a photo of Jim Brown's Winner/Nippes M1810 saber. the oval mounting plated is clearly shown.

    Attachment 155999Name:  Nippes M1810 Brown 1.JPG
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    This makes me re-think this as possibly an early Winner rather than a Nippes saber. He may have copied his Virginia scabbard and later modified his design by added the mounting plates. The fact the sword lacks inspector marks would also suggest it is one of Winner's early bunch which were rejected. I really don't have much confidence in the supple differences in the grip to differentiate the maker.
    Last edited by Richard Schenk; 03-02-2020 at 07:28 AM.

  7. #7
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    My thanks to all who replied.

    I should mention that the scabbard is “teardrop-shaped” in cross section. It’s very rounded, almost bulbous, in the part that covers the spine of the blade, and it’s close to being a sharp edge in the part that covers the blade edge. In 43 years of sword collecting I have never seen anything quite like it. The scabbard is extremely well made and I was shocked to find that it still retained its original wooden splints.

    Are Virginia Manufactory scabbards like this? I’ve owned two, but neither had scabbards.

    Again, Thanks.

    Harvey

  8. #8
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    Richard, with so few marked examples it is easy to place one attribute to the wrong maker. I am constantly changing my assessments of hilt differences, but do believe it the only way to ever attribute to a maker with any confidence. Consider the m1798, BUELL AND GREENLEAF, STARR and ROSE. Same model, all the same size, but very different in details although overall the same. The m1810 I believe is confused by the small style, the large one and militia ones that are completely different. Many of these makers were making swords to sale having nothing to do with m1810 pattern other than looking like one. Starr made a m1810 and it is marked US. He also made a so called m1810 that is mearly marked Starr. Winner made the first hundred or so but was involved with Nippes in the competition of the contract. How many did he make actually? The Maryland sabers are smaller and similar in style to the m1810 but not same contract. There are unmarked examples, marked examples and similar examples. A pattern would be a pattern with all being the same size with only minor differences. Rose, Winner, Nippes, and Henkel all work at the Virginia Manufactory of Arms. I cannot remember if J.J. Henry did or not but all these man worked closely together making similar swords and indeed at VMA the same sword. Most likely at VMA one designed by Winner as was the m1810. I have been working a lot this past year and have not studied, reviewed, refreshed or made observations but should be able soon to add more thoughts to this thread. Every artist has their on style and adds that little bit that makes their product theirs. While I may be wrong on those differences, I do not believe I am wrong on them being there. Eric
    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

  9. #9
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    I don't doubt Rose, Starr, and Winner/Nippes all made M1810-style sabers, however I don't think the differences were all that supple. However differentiating between the Winner and Nippes portion of their contract is an entirely different problem. The differences, if they exist, are very small and attributing them to the right person given the lack of marked samples to use as examples is problematical. I am also pessimistic about attributed the various smaller "Maryland"-style sabers to a specific Philadelphia maker, e.g. Nippes, Henry, Henkel, etc. There are few maker-marked sabers, which make attribution on the others difficult. Adding to the problem is that makers sometimes used others makers' parts, e.g. Henry used Nippes hilts for Maryland contract sabers. I really would appreciate measurable criteria which would differentiate between these makers in a consistent manner.

  10. #10
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    How about this one guys? I lost my notes on the auction (some time ago)(gourd, it was a decade ago)

    I've some more I didn't do anything about except save pictures.
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    Last edited by Glen C.; 03-02-2020 at 06:41 PM.

  11. #11
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    ......and this guy (there are more)
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  12. #12
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    one more for now
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  13. #13
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    I wanted to add regarding the scabbard cross section, my Starr 1818 has that form. Maybe not knife edge like but definitely round on the spine and wedge at the edge.

    Cheers
    GC
    Last edited by Glen C.; 03-02-2020 at 06:43 PM.

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