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Lewis A.




Location: United States
Joined: 18 Jul 2010

Posts: 75

PostPosted: Mon 22 Sep, 2014 11:49 am    Post subject: Anyone here have experience identifying Civil War era swords         Reply with quote

I recently came into possession of what appears to be a sword from the American Civil War era and would be interested in receiving input from those knowledgeable about swords from that period in terms of determining the authenticity of this sword and whether it is of Union or Confederate association (if possible).

Here are some photos of the sword (saber):







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Jeffrey Faulk




Location: Georgia
Joined: 01 Jan 2011

Posts: 578

PostPosted: Mon 22 Sep, 2014 12:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Civil War swords have been knocked off for many years now, and the basic pattern was used for a very long time so even if your sword is an authentic US military blade it is not necessarily an actual Civil War sword.

Also, your pictures are unfortunately somewhat blurry and without a little bit of sharper focus, it is going to be hard to tell you whether you have something authentic or just a well-aged reproduction.

If you could describe the markings, that might help, though I will note that my modern Windlass M1860 has duplicated the original "US ADX 1862" markings that appeared on some old originals...
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Lewis A.




Location: United States
Joined: 18 Jul 2010

Posts: 75

PostPosted: Mon 22 Sep, 2014 1:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeffrey Faulk wrote:
Civil War swords have been knocked off for many years now, and the basic pattern was used for a very long time so even if your sword is an authentic US military blade it is not necessarily an actual Civil War sword.

Also, your pictures are unfortunately somewhat blurry and without a little bit of sharper focus, it is going to be hard to tell you whether you have something authentic or just a well-aged reproduction.

If you could describe the markings, that might help, though I will note that my modern Windlass M1860 has duplicated the original "US ADX 1862" markings that appeared on some old originals...


Yeah I took those pics with a webcam and they are are very low quality.

I'll try to take some better pics with my wife's phone when she gets home.

The only markings that I have spotted on it so far are some marks near where the top part of the guard attaches to the top of the hilt.

My eyes aren't very good, but under a magnifying glass it looks like there might be a 7 and a 4 (74) on one side, and on the opposite side it sort of looks like what might be a V and a 2, but these marks are pretty dim and not easy to make out.

Would the 74 indicate that it is a model 1874 saber?
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Jeffrey Faulk




Location: Georgia
Joined: 01 Jan 2011

Posts: 578

PostPosted: Mon 22 Sep, 2014 1:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Likely 74 indicates year of production or which production run it was. A quick Google search only produces one M1874 weapon, and that's a Turkish bayonet.

I believe the 1860 type saber was used for quite a long time until a revised version, identical except for the guard being made of iron rather than brass, was issued in 1906 and then the 'Patton' saber was issued in 1913 (if I recall correctly).

I think Glen Cleeton is the one on these forums to ask, though his interests generally pre-date the Civil War from what I've seen of his collection. You could also contact Dave Kelly on the Sword Buyers' Guide forums.
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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 1,835

PostPosted: Mon 22 Sep, 2014 1:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mike McWatters pages are good for a start on ACW swords.
http://www.angelfire.com/wa/swordcollector/marks/page1.html

This does not look like an 1874 blade but there were some so called 1874 "trooper" swords made up of parts in the early 20th century. Truly, there were only officers swords that can be officially labeled 1874 cavalry swords. The troopers used the light cavalry "1860" sword.

It is most likely a Prussian made unmarked generic and well could be of the ACW period. American made lights were all marked. There were droves of swords imported for the war. There were also southern made swords but clear shots of both sides of the hilt would be needed for comparison. I would not expect to see an assembly or weapon number on the hilt of a CSA "Dog River" saber. My generic wristbreaker is similarly unmarked except for a couple of numbers.

It appears to be fairly sound and complete, so a little care and cleanup should be an example to really enjoy. Kudos.

Cheers

GC



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Lewis A.




Location: United States
Joined: 18 Jul 2010

Posts: 75

PostPosted: Mon 22 Sep, 2014 2:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Glen A Cleeton wrote:
Mike McWatters pages are good for a start on ACW swords.
http://www.angelfire.com/wa/swordcollector/marks/page1.html

This does not look like an 1874 blade but there were some so called 1874 "trooper" swords made up of parts in the early 20th century. Truly, there were only officers swords that can be officially labeled 1874 cavalry swords. The troopers used the light cavalry "1860" sword.

It is most likely a Prussian made unmarked generic and well could be of the ACW period. American made lights were all marked. There were droves of swords imported for the war. There were also southern made swords but clear shots of both sides of the hilt would be needed for comparison. I would not expect to see an assembly or weapon number on the hilt of a CSA "Dog River" saber. My generic wristbreaker is similarly unmarked except for a couple of numbers.

It appears to be fairly sound and complete, so a little care and cleanup should be an example to really enjoy. Kudos.

Cheers

GC


Should I keep it in "as found" condition? Or should I do anything to try to clean it?

Also, I have heard that Confederate swords generally had a fuller that just sort of faded out at the ricasso, while Union swords had fullers that stopped abruptly at the ricasso, which is how it is on the blade of the sword that I have. Is this pretty much the case?
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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 1,835

PostPosted: Mon 22 Sep, 2014 4:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lewis A. wrote:
Glen A Cleeton wrote:
Mike McWatters pages are good for a start on ACW swords.
http://www.angelfire.com/wa/swordcollector/marks/page1.html

This does not look like an 1874 blade but there were some so called 1874 "trooper" swords made up of parts in the early 20th century. Truly, there were only officers swords that can be officially labeled 1874 cavalry swords. The troopers used the light cavalry "1860" sword.

It is most likely a Prussian made unmarked generic and well could be of the ACW period. American made lights were all marked. There were droves of swords imported for the war. There were also southern made swords but clear shots of both sides of the hilt would be needed for comparison. I would not expect to see an assembly or weapon number on the hilt of a CSA "Dog River" saber. My generic wristbreaker is similarly unmarked except for a couple of numbers.

It appears to be fairly sound and complete, so a little care and cleanup should be an example to really enjoy. Kudos.

Cheers

GC


Should I keep it in "as found" condition? Or should I do anything to try to clean it?

Also, I have heard that Confederate swords generally had a fuller that just sort of faded out at the ricasso, while Union swords had fullers that stopped abruptly at the ricasso, which is how it is on the blade of the sword that I have. Is this pretty much the case?


From the photos, it looks like at least the grip could use some nurturing. I won't wish to lead to debates with others about conservation but I have been using Pecard's antique formula for some time now without degradation of leather. (or stitches). You'll note that I did not buff my saber bright, simply carefully scrubbed down through layers of soot and grime, Certainly, the appearance of your's will be better even if just wiping the hilt with a soft cloth and light oil. It is really a judgment call. If you are planning on a quick resale, don't touch it and mention that in your sale. I feel that if I were to sell mine, my cleaning and care really would not raise or lower the price. If I had buffed it bright, yes that would be a flag. If you Google "sword conservation" you will come up with a number of articles. I like to handle my antiques and even cut with some of them. If the grip is dry, the leather will crack and fall apart if handled without some feeding. I keep my antiques clean and display them dry. Oil attracts dust. Dust attracts moisture. Some like Renaissance Wax for all parts and purposes.

My own little shop of horrors would probably alarm some, whilst others might say "how did you do that" and "bravo"

As to stopped or unstopped fullers, north and south, never fall into generalities. The only way to know a sword was used by the south is provenance. A completely unmarked sword could have been made and used decades after the ACW. Mine, as example, I list as generic and of a type but I assign no specific date to it, nor point of service. The patterns were used worldwide into the 20th century.

Cheers

GC
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Lewis A.




Location: United States
Joined: 18 Jul 2010

Posts: 75

PostPosted: Mon 22 Sep, 2014 5:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the advice and further comments.

As far as I can tell, I believe that the age on the sword and the scabbard are natural and acquired over time, rather than being artificially induced. I'm no expert, but I have spent a great deal of time around antiques and have seen plenty of reproductions, and this looks and feels like a genuinely old sword; but it would be nice to have it confirmed by an expert. That being the case, I believe I will do as you suggest and give it a rub-down with a soft cloth and maybe oil the blade, leaving the existing patina as intact as possible.

I did notice that the throat on the scabbard of this sword has a fairly pronounced rim, which I haven't seen on many other examples. Here are some clearer photos:



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