Appraisal Video: (3:07)
Arms & Militaria
J. Christopher Mitchell American Antiques & Militaria
GUEST: It was taken from my great-grandmother's house by my grandfather and given to me, and we were told that it belonged to one of my ancestors who fought for the Confederacy. He lived in Louisiana, and all I know is, basically, I've been told it's a foot officer's sword, that it was made in New Orleans, and that's, more or less, all I know about it.
APPRAISER: Okay. Well, the sword is made in New Orleans-- that part is absolutely correct. If we look here at the base of the blade, it's marked T.G. & Co., N.O., and that's for Thomas, Griswold and Co., New Orleans.
APPRAISER: One of the features that you see on these Griswolds is it can come with this initial mark or with a full firm mark. Another reason that we know that these swords are made in New Orleans is all of the New Orleans foot officer swords have very distinguished features about them.
APPRAISER: If we look just quickly here at the pommel cap, can you see the seams there?
GUEST: Yeah, mm-hmm.
APPRAISER: All right, that's made out of two pieces. And all of the swords that are made in New Orleans have this two-piece pommel cap, and it's distinctive just to that city. The second thing that we'll notice is that it has an unadorned quillon, and these are actually quite a bit larger than you see on any other Confederate sword, so they're kind of bulbous. Some scholars, some students of these swords, think that maybe Griswold made all the parts and assembled swords for other makers and they marked them. We don't know that for sure, but that is the opinion of some guys. What's interesting to me about your sword is that the blade is etched, and it's etched very, very finely. I mean, it's very, very nicely done. And I can count on one hand the foot officer's swords like this that I've seen with blades of this quality of etching.
APPRAISER: If we look here, it has the owner's name, for William McCullough, 1862. That's the date he would have gotten the sword. And this is just so nicely done-- we have floral sprays. The etching comes all of the way, almost three-quarters of the way out the blade. That's a very, very rare feature. If we take the sword and turn it over... we're going to see that these panels continue. We have cannons, a Confederate first national flag-- all things that collectors want. And then right here in a ribbon, we have the "C.S." for "Confederate States," and again, it runs out three-quarters of the length of the blade. It's just extremely rare to come across a blade that's this nicely etched and that has survived in this condition. This is called a foot officer's sword. While this is a weapon and it can be used as such, its real benefit is to guide troops on the battlefield.
APPRAISER: You don't have the original scabbard, is that correct?
GUEST: That's correct.
APPRAISER: Okay, well, this takes a very distinctive scabbard, and... and one could be found for it. If it had an original scabbard put on it, it would help the value. But we don't know the history of the gentleman who owned it. The way it sits now, without a scabbard but with this wonderful etching, I think in a retail situation, this sword is worth around $30,000.
GUEST: No kidding? Wow.
APPRAISER: All right, I think, if you had the scabbard, and if you could find some history about the gentleman who owned it and it was colorful, it would add to it-- maybe as much or more than $5,000.
APPRAISER: Thank you very much.
APPRAISER: It's great.