1848 Gold Presentation Sword
Appraised Value: $200,000
IMAGE: 1 of 3
Appraisal Video: (2:51)
Arms & Militaria
J. Christopher Mitchell American Antiques & Militaria
GUEST: Well, it was presented to a relative of mine-- Major General William O. Butler-- for the storming of Monterrey. And he was wounded in the leg in that battle.
APPRAISER: It's a very famous battle from the Mexican War.
GUEST: It's been in the family since 1848. I know it was made by Ames Manufacturing, and the government set aside $1,000 for it, but it cost $1,500. Typical government even then.
APPRAISER: And that's in the 1840s, right.
GUEST: It's the 1840s, right. And they said the cost overrun was because of the engraving, which is very fine. It was stolen once during the Civil War. General Butler had it hidden in the gutter of his house, and then the troops came through Carrollton, Kentucky, they stole it. He heard about it when he got home and he went out and got it back. But this is the original deerskin sleeve for it.
APPRAISER: And I think at some time, you intimated that it had been dropped and damaged a little.
GUEST: Yes, it was dropped and the topaz in the end was chipped, and so it was sent up to New York to get it fixed, and I think they put something back crooked or wrong. I was wondering if that would affect the value of it very much.
APPRAISER: This is the most exciting military thing that I've ever seen come into the show. The sword is solid gold, other than the blade, and it's presented by an act of Congress, by a resolution of Congress. And what's extremely interesting about it, in the presentation it actually even says "Presented by the President of the United States." And why that is so important is throughout history, swords have been a mark of honor among military men, among officers, and this is the highest honor at this time period that anyone could receive from our government. Quite a few swords are presented by Congress, but very, very few swords actually also say "Presented by the President of the United States." There were six swords made that were presented to generals from the Mexican War. This is one of those six. Actually now it's one of five, because one of the swords was lost in a fire. Of those five swords, very few actually still have the case and I have never seen a sleeve for one. Your question about whether the damage would actually even affect the value. Um... this is a sword that a very sophisticated collector would be interested in. No, it doesn't help the value, but in the same sense it wouldn't hurt. It wouldn't matter. It's something that because of how rare it is, because how important it is to the history of our country, it's something that anybody would look beyond. If I had this in my gallery, it's something that I would think that would reasonably be in the $200,000 range. It's such an important piece of American history. All six of the swords are completely different. Not one was the same. This is the only one that looks like this. It's a great sword.
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