Presented is a very rare Horstmann M1852 sword that was
made about the time the 1852 regulations were adopted on 8 March 1852. It has a slightly curved pipe back
blade with two fullers which was common to the Navy’s M 1841 eagle pommel sword design and carried forward
by Horstmann. Other than for this, the design on this sword’s blade and that of Ames, and the official Navy diagram are near
identical as is is described in detail below.
The Navy gave a first and only order to Ames Manufacturing
for 500 swords in April, 1852. These were delivered in full by January, 1853. After that, officers were required
to buy their own swords which holds true today for the same slightly modified design. From inception, until
the Civil War, Horstmann and Ames were the only suppliers of M 1852 swords. They were made in small numbers since there were
only about 1,230 naval officers in service at that time. It is reported that by 1860, the number of officers had decreased
to about 1150. Since we know that Ames produced the first 500 to meet part of these requirements, it is fair to assume that
only about 650 more swords were required to meet the needs of the service until the Civil War commenced following which the
officer ranks grew to about 6760 by 1865.
THE BLADE is 29 1/2 inches long by 1 9/64 inches
wide while the standard is 1 1/8. It is 1/4 inch thick on the spine. The primary fuller is 11/16 inch wide and runs
22 3/4 inches over which is centered a 1/8 inch wide fuller that runs 11 1/4 inches.
It’s polished and frostedThe design on its blade is quite different from Horstmann and other swords
design follows the pattern of the official regulations and the 500 made by Ames in 1852-53. It is unsharpened and has a few
nicks along the cutting edge. Considering its age and service, it is in very good condition with only mild spotting, light
handling marks, and strong etching on the blade. The faded red washer appears original.
made during the Civil War period.
Frosted blade follows official 1852 pattern on reverse
On the blade’s reverse side, the name Horstmann & Sons, Philadelphia, is
imprinted on three lines. Right above it is a geometric band 7/8th inch long of alternating swirls and double lines on
a 15 degree angle. Above that is a large 1 3/4 inch American eagle facing left perched on a ship’s cannon and carriage. Next
is a large fowled anchor shown in 3/4 view from the left. Then a 2 3/8 inch area dedicated to the officer’s name surrounded
by an ornate border. The design ends with a square knot with an acorn at the lower end and then a series of oak leaves with
the three strand line passing through and ending with another acorn at the bitter end.
blade follows official 1852 pattern on reverse
The obverse is plain by comparison. The ricasso is unmarked
with the 7/8 inch band repeated as before, then a 2 5/8 inch elongated series of oak leafs above which is a fowled
anchor with American crest centered that is surrounded by a border with inward rounded corners. Next a thirteen star ellipse
and finally six crossed pikes with a pole with a flag marked USN centered measuring 4 3/4 inches.
is 5 1/4 inches long ending in an engraved pommel with an end cap of a right facing eagle surrounded by thirteen stars with
the tang protruding though its chest. The number of stars in the official 1852 design is 13. The grip is wrapped
in white fish skin having thirteen turns of double twisted wire with a single stand on each side making a three band. The
half basket guard is per the pattern with forward facing sea serpent quillion flowing into a pierced guard with floral
oak leaves acorns and USN emblazoned on the obverse and the oak leafs and acorns repeated on the reverse. The lower hand guard
terminates in an ornate sea serpent. It is slotted for a sword knot or portapee which is added when the
sword is worn.
Most of the gold wash remains on the hilt except at the pommel end. The fish skin wrap has
two worn spots on the top at the ninth and the tenth wrap and there is minor shrinkage where it joins together at
the bottom. Neither of these are particularly noticeable.
USN and oak leafs on front guard
Oak leafs on rear guard
Maker’s imprint on reverse ricasso
Pommel end cap and tang
THE SCABBARD: is 30 inches long by 1 1/2 inches wide
at the throat. It is made of leather as called for by the 1852 Regulations. It has heavily chased figure eight
knots on its upper mounts each having a suspension ring. The leather is in very good condition with all stitching tight.
There is some light scuffing and cracking over a very minor nature. Most of the gold wash is gone. The sea serpent
on the drag is mounted with the head on the side away from the rings as per the regulations. On the original M 1852 swords,
the serpents had the design cast only on the obverse with the reverse blank as does this.
DIMENSION SUMMARY: Blade: 1 9/64 inch wide, 1/4
inch thick, 29 1/2 inches long
Hilt 5 1/4 inches long. Length overall 35 inches. In scabbard 35 1/2 inches.
Primary Fuller 22 1/2” x 5/8“ Weight sword in scabbard 2 Lbs
14 oz Net 1 lb 14 oz Sword Knot 38 grams or 1.22 Troy
ounces of Silver.
The only difference between the original Model 1852 sword design shown on the left,
and that authorized today, is that in some today, materials such as plastic instead of fish and ray skin, and lower
quality metalwork are being used. Not so with this sword that conforms with the original specifications as follows:
* From 1 1/8 inches to about 1 inch after 1872
* To about 3/4 inch in the later 19th Century,
* To 5/8 inch in today’s Navy.The regulation of 1852 had the eagle on the pommel facing right when viewed
from behind. The use of the officer’s sword was suspended on 15 October 1942 and was not authorized officially again until
1954. Source Naval Historical and Heritage Command.
HORSTMANN NAMES, DATES & LOCATIONS:
Horstmann Bros. & Allien
NY – 1852-77 Phila
– 1843 to 1863 W.H. Horstmann & Co
Phila 1859 – 1863