Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

SUPPORT PROVIDED BY

Support ANTIQUES ROADSHOW by supporting public television! Give Today
  • ON TV
  • ON TOUR
  • WATCH ONLINE
  • WEB EXCLUSIVES
  • RESOURCES
  • SHOP
  • The Roadshow Archive

    Revolutionary War Sword & Letter

    Appraised Value:

    $8,000 - $12,000

    Appraised on: July 29, 2006

    Appraised in: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

    Appraised by: Bruce Herman

    Category: Arms & Militaria

    Episode Info: Milwaukee, Hour 3 (#1119)

    Originally Aired: November 12, 2007

    slideshow IMAGE: 1 of 4 Next 

    More Like This:

    Form: Sword, Ledger
    Material: Silver, Leather, Paper
    Period / Style: 18th Century
    Value Range: $8,000 - $12,000

    Related Links:

    Understanding Our Appraisals
    Useful tips to keep in mind when watching ANTIQUES ROADSHOW

    Comment

    Appraisal Video: (3:01)

    appraiser

    Appraised By:

    Bruce Herman
    Arms & Militaria

    Grenadier Military Antiques

    Appraisal Transcript:


    GUEST: Well, this is a sword which dates to pre American Revolutionary days and was owned by a gentleman in Philadelphia by the name of John Light, an ancestor of mine, and he was an adjutant in Washington's adjutant corps, or General Washington, and served in the Revolutionary War. Later in life, he passed this on to his grandson, who was John Light, too, and was a physician, and the tradition has continued that the sword be passed from grandfather to grandson, with the father in between being the custodian. But I'm actually the owner, 'cause my father was the custodian.

    APPRAISER: But let me give you a little information about what you do have here. You're right, it's a sword that's pre-revolutionary period. It's more than likely circa 1750. It's a silver-hilted sword, being that the entire hilt is cast from silver and then hand-tooled, hand-finished, very elaborate. It's got a three-sided blade. It's called a colichemarde blade. Very typical of the blade of that time. It's flat-sided on three areas and then it terminates down into a smaller section of the blade and then runs down through the very tip. This type of sword is referred to as a small sword or a hanger. The blade is engraved as we'll typically see on swords of that time. Another thing about the sword that's really unusual is that it still has its complete scabbard, the full length. You know, you're talking about a sword that's about 250 years old, and for it to have the entire leather scabbard with the fittings is very unusual, and it's in beautiful, supple condition. Now, the thing that really excited me the most when you brought this in was this letter. Now, this is a letter from John Light himself, correct?

    GUEST: Yeah, right.

    APPRAISER: And this is bequeathing the sword to his grandson. The letter's dated 1832.

    GUEST: And this letter hung with two other letters with the sword.

    APPRAISER: Okay. And it's also saying that he carried the sword in the war the Revolutionary War.

    GUEST: Yes.

    APPRAISER: I've done a little research. I called a very, very knowledgeable source on Revolutionary War items who has all the records of officers that served. We don't find him listed in the Continental Army. So it's possible that he was a Pennsylvania militiaman, maybe attached with Washington, something to that effect.

    GUEST: Right.

    APPRAISER: The sword as it is, without any touch marks, any maker's mark, just as a Revolutionary War period with this wonderful provenance and history...

    GUEST: Right.

    APPRAISER: At a retail level by a dealer, it would have a value of approximately $8,000-$12,000. If it could be nailed down to be made from a particular American maker, you could double that. $20,000, $25,000.

    GUEST: Wow.

    APPRAISER: And this letter is priceless. That's what makes everything, ties the history together, and gives it this wonderful edge-- not to pun a word about a sword. But we really thank you for bringing it in. It's a... brilliant piece.

    GUEST: Thank you very much.











    WGBH This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2014 WGBH Educational Foundation.
    ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a trademark of the BBC and is produced for PBS by WGBH under license from BBC Worldwide.
    WGBH and PBS are not responsible for the content of websites linked to or from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online.
    PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.

    ROADSHOW on Facebook ROADSHOW Tweets ROADSHOW on YouTube