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Thread: M1861 Cutlass - Genuine?

  1. #26
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    I think I mentioned earlier private vessels also had a requirement for weapons to fend off pirates etc.
    Manufacturers could not just depend on govt. contracts to keep them operational. Wilkinsons had govt. contracts and sold many swords, cutlass etc. to private parties and no doubt Ames did the same.

  2. #27
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    Here is a link to a period article about the Yacht Niagara that was owned by millionaire Howard Gould. It is a lengthy description about the yacht but to quote one sentence "At one end are two covered glass cases containing a well selected complement of arms, such as revolvers, cutlasses, rifles, and swords, to be used in case of emergency." In another period newspaper account from the New York Times February 20, 1898 states “A broad stairway leads from the library on the main deck. This room, 22 by 12 feet, will be finished in hand-carved American walnut, and will contain numerous bookcases filled with specially selected volumes. The after end will be fitted up as an armory, with a complete equipment of rifles, revolvers, sabres, cutlasses, &c.” I submit that this is the origin of the "Niagara" marked cutlasses. Niagara was purchased by the Navy for service during WWI not the Spanish American War. There are also similar marked cutlasses to the "Aloha" another millionaires yacht owned by industrialist, railroad magnate Arthur Curtiss James. It was sold as well to the Navy for WWI service.

    http://www.digitalhistoryproject.com...eam-yacht.html

  3. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by GC Roxbury View Post
    Another explanation for the unmarked and un serialized cutlasses can be found in the Ames Sword Company catalog that dates from 1881. They were offering navy cutlasses as well as the Officer's cutlass. These certainly would not have serial number or USN markings.
    I've often wondered about that. If they sold any, you are probably right that they would lack serial numbers and/or USN markings (unless, of course, Ames still had some left over CW cutlasses still is stock). They would, however, have Ames markings. The Medicus collection included an officer's cutlass with an 1880s-era"Ames Sword Co." marking; enlisted cutlasses would have similar markings. I've never seen, or even heard of one. I'm confident the sword pictured above is not such a private sale cutlass. Not only does it not have any Ames marking, but it has the post-war Navy modifications to the grip. A private sale piece from Ames would have the original wire-wrapped leather grip.
    Last edited by Richard Schenk; 05-15-2017 at 03:52 PM.

  4. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by GC Roxbury View Post
    Niagara was purchased by the Navy for service during WWI not the Spanish American War. There are also similar marked cutlasses to the "Aloha" another millionaires yacht owned by industrialist, railroad magnate Arthur Curtiss James. It was sold as well to the Navy for WWI service.

    http://www.digitalhistoryproject.com...eam-yacht.html
    I believe you are mistaken about the Niagara being a WWI ship vice Spanish American war. The definitive work on the Niagara is Mike Parker's article “The U.S.S. Niagara: America’s Emerging Naval Pride”, in Bulletin 69, The American Society of Arms Collectors, October 1993 pp 16-23. He has a lot of contemporary documentation for the outfitting and short service life of this ship. It is clear this is a different ship than Gould's yacht Niagara.

    As for the Aloha, Arthur Curtis James provided a free lease for the Aloha to the Navy during WWI. After the war it was returned to the owner. Here is a picture of the Aloha cutlass inscription:

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    I briefly discussed these variants in my recent Man at Arms article:

    In 1898 Hartley and Graham, the successor firm to Schuyler, Hartley and Graham, provided the Navy with new M1861 cutlasses with the name of the ship “Niagara” etched on the blade within a sunburst. The USS Niagara was a commercial ship built in 1877 which was acquired by the Navy from the Ward Line and reconfigured as a distillery and supply ship of the Collier Service. It was commissioned on 11 April 1898 and supported the fleet off Cuba and Puerto Rico during the Spanish-American War. It was privately, and lavishly, outfitted by prominent members of New York society as a patriotic gesture. New York Tribune owner William Randolph Hearst personally paid for the small arms used by the crew. It is believed Ames produced these cutlasses for H&G. The Niagara was decommissioned on 14 October 1898.

    About two decades later, Hartley and Graham again provided cutlasses for another ship, the USS Aloha. The Aloha had been built as a yacht for Arthur Curtiss James, a wealthy New York yachtsman and industrialist. After World War I broke out, the owner provided it to the Navy on a free lease, and on 5 June 1917 it was commissioned as the USS Aloha and became the flagship of Rear Admiral Cameron McRae Winslow (1854–1932), Inspector of Naval Districts, East Coast, until January 1919 when it was returned to its original owner. It appears, that similar to the case of the Niagara, New York society helped outfit the ship, including provision of new Hartley and Graham cutlasses with the name “Aloha” within a sunburst on the obverse side of the blade
    Last edited by Richard Schenk; 05-16-2017 at 02:26 PM.

  5. #30
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    Richard,

    I will have to look the ASAC article. Regardless the Gould "Niagara" still gives evidence that cutlass would have been purchased from a outside source, maybe Bannerman or maybe H&G or Ames themselves.

  6. #31
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    Back in 2017 we had a rather extensive discussion on so-called narrow-fuller M1861 Navy cutlasses. Most of those discussed were repros made up by the notorious “House of Swords” back in the 1960s and 1870s. However there was one example (See Post 12 above) which was different. It was totally unmarked with no makers or inspection marks/date on the blade or serial number on the quillon, It appear to have had some convincing age to it and came in what looked like a genuine CW-era scabbard. We came to no consensus whether it was a high quality repro or some unknown variety of the real thing.

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    Another such narrow-fuller is now being offered at auction. Like the above example, it is totally unmarked. The cataloger states: "Overall length: 32". Blade length: 26". Single fullered blade has no markings at all. Despite the fact that the blade is unmarked in any way, this does appear to be an original cutlass. The scabbard & frog are certainly original & the sword shows age & use but seems heavy as compared to other examples." So what do we think, is it a repo or original? If original, what is its origin?

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    Last edited by Richard Schenk; 05-12-2021 at 08:09 AM.

  7. #32
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    Photos cannot tell you everything, a 60 year old piece has age. These could be from a private contract possibly German manufacture? It would be interesting to know if case hardening was used since Germans used this to cut costs in manufacturing. When fullers are forged it is easier to produce wide deep fullers and ground fullers require more work for the same results. These narrow fullers may be ground? The scabbard and frog could be made anywhere and not necessarily by the cutlass manufacturer.
    It would be of interest to know if any markings are obscured by the leather blade washer.

  8. #33
    AGAIN took the words right out of my mouth House of swords LOL he did make nice fake stuff ...bill

  9. #34
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    Here are a few photos of a Model 1861 cutlass that I bought on eBay a couple of weeks ago. Not sure exactly what it is, but at $185 including shipping and tax, even if it's a HOS fake, I'll be able to get my money out of it.
    The fuller measures almost exactly 1/2 inch wide, and is 17 inches long. Note the stitching on the back of the scabbard where the rivets usually are.
    Would be interested to hear what the folks here have to say about it.

    One thing more: I have seen several comments in this thread about post Civil War navy modifications to the grips of 1861 cutlasses, wherein the wire wrap was removed. A number of years ago I had an 1861 cutlass that had no wire or leather wrap on the handle, and took it to Bob Klinger in Arlington, VA who unhilted it and replaced the leather wrap. In talking to him about it, he showed me the wooden handgrip and pointed out that there was no drilled hole at the front of the handgrip where the front end of the wire wrap would have been inserted. It was his opinion that since both the 1860 cavalry saber and the 1840 dragoon saber both have holes for the stub end of the wire, and the cutlass did not, that the 1861 cutlass was ordered from Ames without the wire wrapping. Since neither of us had ever seen an 1861 cutlass with what we felt was original wire, his thoughts about the cutlass being ordered with no wire makes sense to me.
    Again, I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this.
    Last edited by JD Morris; 05-23-2021 at 12:33 PM.

  10. #35
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    The sword looks like a typical HoS product with the narrow fuller except it lacks bogus blade marks normally found on the ricasso. Presume your sword, like normal HoS cutlasses, has no serial number on the quillon. The scabbard is a Francis Bannermann replacement produced for private purchase long after the CW but it is still probably over a hundred years old.

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    Ref your comments on the N1861 grips. Occasionally the grips are found which apparently lack the holes in the wood core for anchoring the wire wrap. This leads some to suggest the cutlasses never had wire wraps. There is ample proof Ames originally produced the grips with wire wrap like their contemporary cavalry and mounted artillery sabers. The wire-wrapped leather grips were, however, problematic in that the brass would corrode in the salt air. As a result, at some point, probably after the Civil War, most of the Navy cutlass grips were “jacked,” i.e. the wire wrap was removed and the grip was polished and coated with a tar-based protective solution. During their long service the M1861 underwent frequent repair and refurbishment, which is why a significant number of blade dates do not match the serial numbers on the hilt, i.e. an 1861 blade mounted on a 25K-numbered hilt. As part of the renovation, at times the entire grip would be replaced and, since the grips no longer had wire wrapping, there was no requirement for the wood core to have holes. Sometimes the Navy even replace the leather-covered wood grip with aluminum ones.

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    Last edited by Richard Schenk; 05-22-2021 at 05:54 PM.

  11. #36
    can you imagine how many repo s there are out there of what HOS sold ??? his catalog was full of them also he embellished some original items to even look better like with german ww2 ribbon bars......bill he also produced all of german cloth fake items ...bill

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