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Michael Noonan





Joined: 19 Jan 2010

Posts: 1

PostPosted: Tue 19 Jan, 2010 6:11 pm    Post subject: Found an antique sword. Need advice.         Reply with quote

Hi everyone. I found this sword recently and through some research I think that it is a Nathan P. Ames heavy cavalry saber. It is dated 1846. It used to be taken care of regularly but its previous owner passed about 20 years ago, so there is some rust and whatnot encroaching on it. Any tips on how to best care for it? I know that on antiques shows they often suggest not cleaning it up too much because that will devalue for sword.

Also, does anyone have a clue as to how much this may be worth? I know condition means a lot and that I should get it formally appraised, but if anyone has an idea that would be cool.



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Lin Robinson




Location: NC
Joined: 15 Jun 2006
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Reading list: 6 books

Posts: 1,234

PostPosted: Wed 20 Jan, 2010 3:50 am    Post subject: Re: Found an antique sword. Need advice.         Reply with quote

Michael Noonan wrote:
Hi everyone. I found this sword recently and through some research I think that it is a Nathan P. Ames heavy cavalry saber. It is dated 1846. It used to be taken care of regularly but its previous owner passed about 20 years ago, so there is some rust and whatnot encroaching on it. Any tips on how to best care for it? I know that on antiques shows they often suggest not cleaning it up too much because that will devalue for sword.

Also, does anyone have a clue as to how much this may be worth? I know condition means a lot and that I should get it formally appraised, but if anyone has an idea that would be cool.


Don't overclean the sword. A lot of antiques - of all kinds - have been severely devalued by overzealous cleaning. Remove any dirt with a damp cloth and a little soap. Dry it thoroughly and try to avoid getting any moisture in crevices around the guard and blade where it will promote rust. Then use an oily rag to wipe down all the metal surfaces. Do not use steel wool or any heavy abrasive to remove the rust, AKA patina. The leather is best left alone if it is not dry and cracking.

Ames swords were quite common in the 19th c. In good condition, and depending on its rarity, it could bring $400 to $1500, perhaps more. Ames also imported some swords for sale during the Civil War.

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 1,920

PostPosted: Wed 20 Jan, 2010 10:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Welcome aboard

The market for these is kind of fickle and yes, condition is everything. Here is a price guide from a couple of years ago that does reflect general values which have been fairly stable this decade.
http://www.cds1.net/~nardi/swords/values.htm


For a firm and authorative appraisal, someone like Richard Bezdek will do so for a fee.
www.theswordman.com/

Or, a specialty arms insurance company such as Eastern. I'm sure they can give a pretty good priceline for insurance coverage.
www.historicfirearms.com/

There is a great beginning to antique arms conservation here
http://swordforum.com/articles/ams/conservation.php

It is tough to judge a sword from the picture you offered. It kind of shows everything and nothing at the same time. Outdoor light is best and if you can show some straight on profiles of the entire hilt from both sides, a lot of the condition can be seen. Bezdek's site linked here above has some similar prerquisites for sword appraisal and I'm sure an insurance company is ging to want good clean shots as well. As this has been cared for and it looks pretty clean, I would venture to say do nothing but keep the dust off it with a soft cloth and try to keep it in a dry and temperature steady environment. Wide changes in temperature may cause condensation inside scabbards. if you or someone else has handled the blade with bare hands or fingers, be aware of finger oils and salt from that.. There is no way to know how it was treated before you aquired it, so care could vary (in my recommendations). That conservation article is a good start but keep in mind that less is more, especially if someone has already been there.

Good luck with it and do share some more pictures if and when you are able. I like these a lot and have a generic period example, as price was more affordable. I have seen superb and unmessed with examples of the Ames in as new condition run over $3,000 but those are exceptions rarely seen.

Cheers

GC

A shamless and gratuitous shot of mine before me messing with it. Some gentle leather care and other cleaning has brought it to more the condition of the bigger French 1854 next to it (that's a horn grip though).
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