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Ames M1850 Foot Officers Sword 1861 Date Museum Deaccession

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Ames M 1850 Foot Officer's Sword Dated 1861
Museum Deacession

Presented is a M1850 Ames Foot Officer's sword dated 1861 of which only 450 were made. The design calls for a single edged blade with 9 1/2" false edge and 3/4" wide fuller running 21" down the length, enhanced by etched floral scroll work. The guard, knuckle bow and quillion are a single piece of cast brass with a pierced floral guard and reeded bow slotted for a sword knot. The pommel is cast brass with small back strap, and carved laurel wreath, The shagreen covered grip is split horizontally on reverse. The museum's accession number, E82.13.1, appears on the back of the blade under the quillion and ion the tag.

MARKINGS: It is marked on the obverse ricasso with a US over JH over 1861 on three lines, and at the same place on the reverse, Chicopee over MA. Above the ricasso on the obverse is a barely legible Ames Mfg. Co. over Chicopee. This is barely discernible. There are no marks elsewhere that can be seen.

MUSEUM MARKINGS: The museum's accession number, E82.13.1, appears on the back of the blade under the quillion. This number was assigned by the museum which recently sold the sword to benefit their "Collections Fund". The small white tag on the knuckle bow repeats the accession number.

CONDITION: The hilt's patina is light greenish gold with variations in color. There are traces of the original gilding mainly on the front of the guard, but also in the designs. The blade is gun metal grey with darker areas on both sides, two patches of rust on the reverse, and a little pitting. The floral etching is difficult to see, but there under the right light. The shagreen covered wood hilt is missing its two strand wire wrap, and there is a seam in the cover on the reverse due to shrinking. There is NO scabbard.

Ref. "The American Sword, 1775-1945", by Harold E. Peterson, 1996. Pages 81-82.

Civil War Army Swords; A Study of the United States Army Swords from 1832 through 1865", by John Tillman, 2008. p 240.

DIMENSIONS: 35 3/4" long overall. 30 1/2" blade length Hilt 5 1/4" L x 1 1/4" W x 3/4"
Max width of blade 1" Max thickness 3/8" False edge 9 1/4"

Fuller 5/8" W x 21 1/2" L Small Fuller 1/8" W x 15 3/4" L Weight 1 lbs 15 oz
Open Floral Guard
Prominent pommel with small back strap
Missing wire wrap and seam in shagreen on reverse grip showing shrinking
Ornate floral design on blade is barely visible to naked eye
This is an interesting example of an Ames Civil War, M1850 Foot Officers sword which was in limited production
BRIEF HISTORY Ames Mfg. Co.: The Ames Manufacturing Company, Chicopee, Massachusetts, was founded in 1832 by James Tyler Ames and his brother, Nathan Peabody Ames. The company manufactured small tools, cotton machinery, swords, cannons, and did casting of bells. They started production of military contract swords in 1832 with the M1832 foot artillery sword, and ended with the M1906 cavalry saber in 1906. Ames produced more swords for the American military than any other company before or since, totaling over 200,000 swords in service by the end of the Civil War. In that time, at least ten different manufacturing marks were used on the swords. A little knowledge of the company history helps place a date range for when each stamp was used. When the company started producing swords it was led by Nathan P. Ames, and most marks reflected that fact. In 1847, Nathan died and left the company to his brother James. The markings on the blades were immediately changed from N.P. Ames to Ames Mfg. Co. In 1848, the town of Cabotville was incorporated into Chicopee, Massachusetts, and the marks were once again changed to reflect this. Blades dated as late as 1850 may still bear the Cabotville stamp, as the old dies were probably used until they were worn out. In a much reduced state, they are still in business today. Mostly, from an essay by Michael McWatters

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