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Thread: Hilt Types on Marine M1859 Sergeant' Swords

  1. #1
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    Hilt Types on Marine M1859 Sergeant' Swords

    I’m not sure most collectors have paid enough attention to the Marine M1859 sergeants’ sword to notice the hilts are of two different types. Type 1, which was used on early swords with unetched or genetic etched blades, has oak leaves around the periphery of the pommel, no rosettes among the foliage on the guard, and a squiggly design in the face of the quillon. Type 2, which was used on later swords with the initials “U.S.M.C.” etched on their blades, has laurel leaver around the periphery, rosettes among the foliage on the guard, and a plain undecorated face on quillon. I’m interested in the degree these two types were used by Horstmann and other makers in making Army M1850 foot officers’ swords. Any observation on these points?

    - Horstmann used the Type 1 hilt on their M1850 foot officer swords. Did any maker other than Horstmann use oak leaf decorations on their pommels? A quick review of Thillman seems they did not.

    - Did Horstmann ever use the Type 2 hilt on an Army M1850? I don’t recall seeing one.

    - Did any other makers ever use the Horstmann Type 2 on their swords?

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  2. #2
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    Most excellent Richard, thanks for this post. 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

  3. #3
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    The above post was somewhat of a setup for a discussion of this sword I just acquied. It Is a Marine M1859 sergeant’s sword unlike any I have ever seen.

    - First, it is totally unmarked with the name of any maker or retailer. Other examples are marked with the Horstmann name and location (Philadelphia) and most have the Weyersburg king’s-head stamp as well. Other than lack of a maker’s name, this sword shows a standard Horstmann etching pattern as found on Marine sergeants’ swords with “U.S.M.C.” initials.

    - Second, the hilt is a hybrid with a Type 1 guard showing no rosettes and squiggle design on the quillon and a Type 2 pommel with laurel leaves replacing the earlier oak leaves. The casting of the design is much superior to that normally found on either type hilt and is equal or superior to that found on officers’ swords.

    Any thought or comments on this unique sample?

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  4. #4
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    Is there a German maker stamp on the blade or an "Jron Proof" etch on the blade spine Richard? The etching looks German to me with the early head toward the point orientation of the eagle (etched in the Prussian eagle style). I have noticed these "Prussian" style eagles are generally earlier than the later larger eagles that are oriented with the spread wing tips toward the point and hilt.
    "You can't please everyone, so you have to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

  5. #5
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    From the pictures they sent, I don't think there is either a king's-head stamp or "iron proof" on the blade, but will need to wait until I have it in hand to be sure there's nothing hiding there. As for the eagle, in general your observation on the earlier date of the Prussian-style eagle with the head towards the tip is correct, however Horstmann used the same eagle for the life of the series. It is my theory that Horstmann had a huge surplus of blades after the Civil War which it continued to use to built new swords to fill Marine contracts through the end of the century.

  6. #6
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    Received the sword today. Per George. question, there was no "Iron Proof" or king's head stamp on the blade. The only mark anywhere on the sword was a tiny "X54" below the fastening screw on the rear top mount of the scabbard. It would appear the blade is not the usual import.

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    Over all, the sword is in exceptional condition. The leather body of the scabbard has no scrapes, scratches, cracks or scaling, but is in as health of condition as when it left the factory The leather on the grip is in similar good condition. As for the hilt, the quality of the casting is excellent with each detail sharp and distinct unlike the rater sloppy work usually found on Marine sergeants' swords. This was clearly a special sword, Any theories?

  7. #7
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    That is a great looking sword. Congrats!

  8. #8
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    Gerry, did you bid in the Morphy Auction?

  9. #9
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    I did not.

  10. #10
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    Since there were few swords in the auction, and fewer of much interest, plus the usual lack of interest in Marine swords in general, I had hoped this would sell for the estimate or lower. Most of the sword lots did, but my lot went for double. There must have been at least one bidder who, like Gerry, knew what they were looking at.

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