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1840 Ames N.C.O Sword Questions

Discussion in 'Civil War Weapons and Ammunition' started by rknarr2, Mar 11, 2017.

  1. rknarr2

    rknarr2 Cadet

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    IMG_0344.JPG

    My step dad past away and left a sword to my mom. It might have been bought from an online auction called gunbroker but without his email and password its hard to obtain any providence. I did research and I think the sword is an Ames 1840 N.C.O. sword. The overall length of the sword is 36" and the sword blade length is 30 3/4". I hope someone responds because I have not had much luck finding the answers.
    I have questions about the markings on the sword as follows:
    1. What is wat stamped on the knuckle bow mean as shown on 2nd picture?
    2. What does J.H. stamped on the cross guard nearer the quillion and something that is very hard to read like maybe a g, s, 8 or 9 that is stamped on the cross guard up against the edge of the sword mean as shown on 3rd picture?
    3. On the other side of the cross guard is stamped the outline of a 6 pointed star, what does that mean as shown on 4th picture?
    4. Neither side of the ricasso is stamped with any kind of markings, what does that mean as shown in 5th and 6th pictures? I ask this because in my research I have found things likes stamped Ames Company, year etc...
    5. Do you think the scabbard was restored because I noticed the locket and leather body as well as the chape and leather body are held together via staples as shown in the 7th and 8th pictures.
    6. The scabbard has no A.D.K. marking stamped on the chape, what does that mean?
    7. what type of dollar value would you put on this sword and scabbard.
    8. Do you think this is a civil war period sword?
    I am sorry about any butchering of the sword labels. Thank you so much for helping my mom out on this information.
    Regards,
    Robert IMG_2461.JPG IMG_2462.JPG IMG_2465.JPG IMG_2479.JPG IMG_2480.JPG IMG_2469.JPG IMG_2470.JPG
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 14, 2017

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  3. 7th Mississippi Infantry

    7th Mississippi Infantry Major Forum Host

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    Hello Robert, welcome aboard !

    We have many sword experts on Civil War Talk. I'm sure answers to your questions will be forthcoming.
     
  4. E_just_E

    E_just_E 1st Lieutenant Forum Host

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    This looks like a model 1840 musician's sword replica from here. The grip might be authentic.
     
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  5. Jobe Holiday

    Jobe Holiday First Sergeant

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    rknarr2 - You are correct, your sword is a M-1840 NCO Sword, as the Musician Swords do not have the "Clamshell" guard. The various markings are an assortment of inspector, and sub-inspector, marks. As for the blade not having any manufacturers marks, there is a very real possibility that the original blade has been replaced. This is not as uncommon as many people may think. It is quite often over looked that these swords had an extremely long service life. The reason is that quite a number of them ended up in military academies around the country, and then later in colleges with ROTC programs, where they remained in use up into the early 1930's. I have seen a number of these swords with replaced and unmarked blades. I do not know where the blades came from, but you can tell they are replaced by inspecting the pommel cap.
    J.
     
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  6. Richard E. Schenk

    Richard E. Schenk Private

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    Your sword is definitely a M1840 NCO sword dating from the CW era, but the scabbard is a modern reproduction. The mark on the knuckle guard is "W.A.T." in script letters. This is the inspection mark of Capt. William A. Thornton, a long-time Army arms inspector. The "JH" is the inspection mark of John Hannis. (There is some uncertainty as to this name; some say Joseph Hannis, others John Harris.) I do not know the significance of the star, but suspect in was a manufacturer's mark of some type. You are correct, the ricassos should be marked, the obverse side with three lines reading "U.S./(inspector's initials, e.g. A.D.K.)/(date, e.g.1862)", the reverse side with the manufacturer's mark. Sometimes these were rather lightly struck and are worn away by years of polishing and cleaning. This is very common with Ames M1861 cutlasses. It is not as common on M1840 NCOs, but I suspect that that is what happened in the current case. Based on the inspector marks on the hilt, your sword was probably an Ames from the 1860s. As for the value, check for similar items on eBay. This is not a particularly valuable sword, especially with the repro scabbard and the marks being worn off the blade. I would guess less than $300. Nevertheless, it is a good-looking piece of genuine history from our great Civil War.
     
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  7. Jobe Holiday

    Jobe Holiday First Sergeant

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    rknarr2 - Can you post a photo of the pommel end?
    J.
     
  8. rknarr2

    rknarr2 Cadet

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    Are you sure this does not have the clamshell guard please see the 4th photo above? Thank you. rknarr2
     
  9. rknarr2

    rknarr2 Cadet

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    Here is a picture of the pommel? IMG_2484.JPG
     
  10. rknarr2

    rknarr2 Cadet

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    I have several more questions and/or comments as follows:
    1. Does the 4th photo above show a clamshell guard?
    2. I heard the same thing from a dealer may have been polished off of the markings on the ricassos and the sword put into storage
    3. On the 3rd photo right up next to the edge of the sword blade is like an s, g, 8 or 9? Would you have any idea what that mark is and what it would mean? Sorry that was the best picture I could get of that mark.
    4. I heard from that same dealer that the 1840 NCO sword came out in the 1840s and he said it could have been in the Spanish American war as far as he knew. Without the markings on the ricassos grinded off, he would not be able to tell me if it was civil war or not.
    Thank you for your assistance.
    rknarr2
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2017
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  11. Richard E. Schenk

    Richard E. Schenk Private

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    1. I wouldn't call it a clamshell guard, but I suppose some might - the term isn't well defined.
    2. Although some individual might have done so, that wasn't a common practice. The Confederates did not have time to waste grinding the "U.S." off all the weapons held by the State militias at the time of secession or subsequently captured, much less the manufacturing data. Your sword shows no sign ot grinding.
    3. In the picture it looks more like a flaw in the metal. presuming it is a stamp, it is likely a number which was used in the manufacturing process, usually to aid in the proper assembly of parts. You often see such manufacturer's marks.
    4. The M1840 NCO sword was not made after 1865, but they remained in Service up into the 20th century. Your sword might well have still been in service during the Spanish-American war. The inspector marks on the hilt show the sword was definitely procured by the Ordinance Corps during the CW.
     
  12. Jobe Holiday

    Jobe Holiday First Sergeant

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    Permit me to restate in a more defined format:

    The fact that the sword had a "Guard" (proper sword terminology) makes it a M-1840 NCO.

    I originally used the term "Clamshell" for the uninitiated to be able to recognize that the Guard by its appearance resembling an "Open Clamshell" so it would be easier to identify the specific item I was referring to.

    The Musician's sword only has a "Knuckle Guard" (aka "D-Guard", and does not have a "Guard" (aka "Hand Guard"). Therefore, the sword shown is not a Musician's sword.

    rknarr - Thank you for the photo of the "Pommel", which clearly shows the sword has had the original blade replaced. Hence there are no identifying marks on the blade.
    J.
     
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  13. ucvrelics.com

    ucvrelics.com First Sergeant Forum Host

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    Welcome From THE Heart Of Dixie. @Richard E. Schenk and @Jobe Holiday are spot on with their post. The scabbard is defiantly a repop and from the pommel photo the blade has been removed from the guard. I really can't make out the Ames on the blade which leaves a doubt as most Ames marked swords from that period were very well marked one the guard end of the blade.
     
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  14. Richard E. Schenk

    Richard E. Schenk Private

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    Agree the pommel shot does show the blade was removed at some point. There is really no way to know whether the original blade was remounted or a different one. In either case it would not be a "new" blade. These swords were not manufactured after 1865 and no one would special order a newly-made blade as a replacement - the cost would have been prohibitive. Mixing or hilts and blades, even during the service lives of the swords, is certainly not unheard of. This is frequently seen in the case of M1861 Navy cutlasses. These swords were marked with serial numbers on the hilt and dates on the blade. Frequently swords are found where to two don't match, i.e. an 1864-dated blade will be mounted on a hilt with a 1861 serial number or vice versa. It appears when the cutlasses were sent back for repair or refurbishment, the armorers were not overly concerned with ensuring blades were remated with their original hilts.
     
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  15. Jobe Holiday

    Jobe Holiday First Sergeant

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    The Model 1861 Naval Cutlass was not serially numbered as issued. I say this from having seen quite a number of near new M-1861 Naval Cutlass examples in the 1960's, none of which ever had any serial numbers. I have found two types of numbering on the Naval Cutlass. One is when they were taken apart post Civil War and repaired and refitted. At which time they were marked with matching numbers to keep the same parts together when they were reassembled. The second type of numbering was done by the armorers on the ships to which they were issued. You will see a multitude of seemingly random numbers usually on the guards and pommels. These represent rack numbers, arms locker numbers, and later actual ship ID numbers. The M-1861 Naval Cutlass remained in service well into WW2 and went through many rebuilds over the ensuing 85 years by many different hands,
    J.
     
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  16. Specster

    Specster First Sergeant

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    The grip looks good, the sword does not, and the scabbard is very suspect as well.
     
  17. Jobe Holiday

    Jobe Holiday First Sergeant

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    As Richard E. Schenk had noted earlier, there is no doubt that the scabbard is modern.
    J.
     
  18. Richard E. Schenk

    Richard E. Schenk Private

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    In August 1861, the Navy directed Ames to stamp serial numbers on the guard of each future cutlass produced, using “M” to designate 1000, e.g. cutlass 12,345 would be marked “12M/345”. Since by August 600 cutlasses had already been delivered, Ames started such numbering at 601; those cutlasses already delivered were to be retro-marked by the Navy. (I have, however, seen at least two obviously authentic 1861-dated cutlasses without serial numbers.) These numbers are often erroneously referred to in ads and discussions as “rack numbers”, but in fact they are, as noted, serial numbers. Here is a shot of the serial number on clutlass 12,482

    M1861 Cutlass 12M482 HS 2 comp.jpg
    Some M1861s, but not many, do have rack numbers in addition to the serial number. They are usually located on the basket or the pommel.
    M1861 Cutlass 6M325 Rack Number.jpg

    There are a lot of purported M1861 cutlasses out there without serial numbers. These are reproductions. Some, those produced by the infamous "House of Swords", are quite good and will fool many. One of the most obvious tells is the lack of serial numbers. There are others, e.g.the Ames mark is not quite right, the number of turns on the grip are wring, the fuller is slightly too narrow, etc. I believe an officer's version of the HoS repro was recently the topic of another thread.
     
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  19. Jobe Holiday

    Jobe Holiday First Sergeant

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    Richard E. Schenk - Thank you for the additional information! I'll have to get a couple out of storage and review them.
    J.
     
  20. rknarr2

    rknarr2 Cadet

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    First of all I want you to know that I am not trying to challenge what you said but am trying to understand how you know from looking at the end of the pommel that the blade has been replaced? Also, on top of the pommel, is that a capital I on
    top referring to Infantry.
    Thank you for assistance in these requests.
    rknarr2
     
  21. Jobe Holiday

    Jobe Holiday First Sergeant

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    The photo of the end of the pommel shows the end of the tang of the blade crudely peened over and standing above the brass pommel. The brass pommel shows the shoulders sloped downward, and with hammer strikes around the circumference. An untouched example will have the sword tang polished flush with the brass pommel, and the pommel polished smooth. The pommel end will also be higher in profile than yours. Your pommel end is lower in profile because they had to grind the whole thing down in order to get the original blade out of the hilt.
    J.
     

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