Confederate Naval Officer's Sword & Scabbard
Appraised Value: $25,000
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (3:23)
Arms & Militaria
J. Christopher Mitchell American Antiques & Militaria
GUEST: It has come down in my family. It's owned by my sister and me. It was my great-grandfather's saber. He was at Annapolis when the Civil War broke out, joined the Confederate navy, and this was his dress saber.
APPRAISER: Do you know anything about his service history?
GUEST: He was in the battle of the Merrimack and Monitor, which was a very important battle in the Civil War. And at the end of the war, he was in Havana, and that's where he signed his oath of allegiance and came back to his hometown of Chattanooga.
APPRAISER: Okay. Well, this is in fact a Confederate naval officer's sword. It's based on a British pattern for the Royal Navy. The big differences in those two swords would be that the British pattern has a lion head instead of this dolphin. Actually, we call this sword a “dolphin head.” And the other is that the English sword would have a crown here, where we see this anchor and crossed cannons. And another aspect that actually tells us this is definitely for the Confederate navy, if we look right here, you'll notice there is a second national Confederate flag. Also what we have is cotton and tobacco running on the sword in the etch, which are staple crops for the South. So all of these motifs are strictly for the Southern states, for the Confederate navy. Oftentimes when you find a Confederate naval officer's sword, they're engraved right here, so the first thing we would do is look for his name here.
APPRAISER: Now, it's not there and that's okay. We would prefer it, because that would definitely tie it to this gentleman by name. This sword is manufactured by Firman & Sons in London, and if we look here, we can see that indication, and it gives their street address, on the Strand. Now, these swords survive in varying states of repair. One of the hardest things to get is the scabbard. And you actually have quite a nice scabbard. We have the stylized snakes or serpents down at the end of the drag. We have the ropes, the leather's in good shape. So this is a good aspect. But we do have some very, very disturbing condition problems to the hilt of the sword. At some point in its life, it took some type of major hit or damage. We immediately notice that the grip is cracked and flaked, and there's a space in between. We take it and we turn it over and we see that the entire counter guard has been knocked off or smashed, and it's actually broken off a piece of the sword itself. Now, it used to be a little counter guard that would fold down and lock onto the back of the scabbard to keep the sword from falling out. Or, also it helped in keeping the sword guard from pushing against your side if it were all the way open. The sword has actually slipped out of its groove where the tang would start. It originally sat on top of the blade ridge here.
APPRAISER: So we've got some very, very serious damage. But... interestingly enough, even though this is in quite a state of disrepair, it's still so very rare-- it's the first one that we've seen in the entire time that I've been doing the show in any state of condition...
GUEST: Really? Wow!
APPRAISER: And as a result of that, because of its rarity, I would want $25,000 for it--
GUEST: (inhales deeply)
APPRAISER: --even damaged the way that it is.
APPRAISER: It's a very rare sword.
GUEST (laughing): Wow. I think the way the sword got broken was my great-grandfather had five children and they played with this.
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