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Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Mystery Sword. Reply to topic
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Sam Dann

Joined: 21 Jan 2012

Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sat 21 Jan, 2012 8:42 pm    Post subject: Mystery Sword.         Reply with quote

Not sure if this goes here... or where, but I'm new to, so bear with me.

I'm a noob to the sword world. I did martial arts for many years but they were Korean and swords were not among our weapons for our training. So I know little else besides the fact that swords are awesome, deadly, beautiful, there are many different types of swords from hundreds of cultures and peoples and have been used for different purposes over the years.

So I've had this sword ever since a family friend gave it to me as a kid. Funny story, he moved into a new house in the woods of upstate NY, very much gun-nut territory, and in the process of cleaning his new house found some interesting things. While watching TV one night he dropped the remote under the couch. Reaching down under the couch he found what he thought was the remote and pulled out a sword. A bit overwhelmed by this he held on to it and decided it'd be better to give to a 13 year old kid than to hang on to it himself.

Now, many years later I decided to look the sword up online to see what it was and when it was from. When the friend gave me the sword neither he nor my father thought much of it, assuming it was some replica or recent military cadet's sword bought at an army surplus store. What did I care? I was 13 and now had my own sword.

Upon doing some google research I've found that the sword is in the style of an eagle head pommel sword. It certainly has an eagle head, and looks much like other eagle head pommels with it's five ball guard and single bladed edge. It looks a bit like a cutlass... or what my noob imagination thinks of as a cutlass. Certainly has the look of a military sword. Possibly US. Different from the Eagle Head Pommel swords I found online, this one has a wooden grip instead of a bone grip.

There are no markings on the blade, hilt, or grip and no scabbard. See photos below.

I'm curious as to what this sword is and when it's from, and also its value, not that I'm looking to part with it necessarily.






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Glen A Cleeton

Location: Nipmuc USA
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 1,973

PostPosted: Sat 21 Jan, 2012 10:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Welcome aboard Sam

This is a sword from the early 19th century and generally associated with the American market. The books regard this one assigned to Richard Bolton &Co from Birmingham England during at least that first decade. Bolton was a merchant, more than a maker and Like Ketland exported arms from several shops. This eagle head evolved from a type associated with a fellow named Thomas Bate, a silversmith and cutler. The E. Alexander Mowbray book on eagles lists this as the Bolton/upson eagle because a pair of brothers in America were great importing agents and retailers. the Tilte is The American Eagle Pommel Sword and sells at a decent price for a student of eagles (if interested).

I would put it to that timeline of roughly 1805. The wood handle is a bit less common than the pressed horn, bone or ivory grips. Some will place the dark grips as nco swords but because of its five ball manner, I would think not. The platoon leader nco swords are generally sabres in that time frame. The ring (which looks like it has been moved inboard of the guard) is sometimes regarded as "must be naval" but there is no absolute there either. There is also a chance that it may have been assembled from ready parts by a New England east coast cutler. That may explain the wood grip and the hilt may at one time have been silver plated.

If you have not already, approach any cleaning of the blade very gently, as there may be some decoration of it left under the rust. Do not scrub!! At least not until you are sure what you see. Some of these are found with
broad etching like later methods but more often we see what was once fine needle etching with gilt and blue on the blade.

My own example of these is a spadroon like yours but with a bone grip and foliate gilt etching with no standard military motif. still, a sword meant for an American officer. I I also have a fairly large image bank of eagles and one quite like yours but with a horn (I think) grip. The blade decoration on some is quite extensive and other exaples at the top of the food chain

Treat it gently. It looks like it may have been mashed about at some point. It is still a mid three figure piece and an important piece of American history. past that though. Condition is everything and there is really no easy way to make it new. BY NRA standards, I would still list it as Very Good. It is not as common as a couple of other varieties such as the Ketland and Osborn types. I list these in my mind as the 3 Stooges.

Cheers, hit me with more questions as needed. Btw, someone mentioned you are having a hard time registering at SFI and whenever that is an issue for anyone, simply email the administrator.


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my spadroon

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My 3 Stooges

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Sam Dann

Joined: 21 Jan 2012

Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sat 21 Jan, 2012 10:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow! Well sir, mystery solved it seems. And to think my father and his friend had a very "give it to the kid" attitude when he gave it to me. They both thought it was a repro or some cheap army surplus piece. He was surprised when I told him that Eagle Head Pommels were from the 1800s. Pretty sweet that this predates the Civil War by a fair piece Happy

Wow... 3 figures you say? That's more than we ever thought it might be worth. It's a bit crooked. Probably from being under some redneck's (no offense to anyone) couch for years and from being played with by a kid.

I also have a 1914-1917 Remington Sword Bayonet that I keep under the bed in case of break ins. Got it at a yardsale for $8 when I was a kid.
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Glen A Cleeton

Location: Nipmuc USA
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 1,973

PostPosted: Sat 21 Jan, 2012 11:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

An interesting aside to the Upson brothers of New York is that they were in the midst of contracts with suppliers in Birmingham when the 1812 war broke out. Swords continued to be shipped during the war and were being shipped in barrels and trunks labeled as umbrellas and canes. On the close up of your sword I can see what is probably a G right at the base. You may also see some very fine line decoration left.

Depending on th e day of the week and the phase of the moon, even really poor condition eagles will generally fetch at least a couple of hundred. That would really be what this one would fetch on a wholesale level.

I like the Boltons and am currently looking for a horn gripped nco sabre. The overall variety of the eagleheaad pommels is quite staggering and does continue into the 20th century. This pommel is dated as early as the late 1790s and some consider some as late as the 1820s.



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more of a Bates type

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my blade
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