Confederate Foot Officer's Sword by Leech & Rigdon, ca. 1861
Appraised Value: $12,000
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (3:19)
Arms & Militaria
J. Christopher Mitchell American Antiques & Militaria
GUEST: My wife inherited this sword a few years back from a relative in Pennsylvania, I believe, and we understand that this is a sword that was worn by a Confederate soldier, one of my wife's ancestors, who actually fought and died at Vicksburg, as far as we know.
APPRAISER: And it is your assumption that this is a Confederate-made product.
GUEST: Absolutely, I believe so.
APPRAISER: Well, that's something I can confirm for you. This is definitely a Confederate-made sword. It's what we call a foot officer's sword. One of the ways that we know that it's Confederate is if we turn it... we're going to see right here the letters "C-S." And that is for "Confederate States." This particular sword was actually manufactured more than likely in Memphis, probably in '61 or '62 by a company by the name of Leech & Rigdon. They made swords for the government, they made swords for private individuals. There are hilts like this that are made in Mobile, Alabama. They're very similar. So we have to ascertain what makes this Leech & Rigdon. Well, if you go here on the scabbard, you'll notice that there are no little numbers stamped on it anywhere. Most of the Mobile-made swords will have numbers on them. The way that this blade is etched-- and I'm not sure that you know that it is etched...
GUEST: Not at all.
APPRAISER: It's very, very hard to see. But starting here at the top and going down about three-quarters of the way are floral motifs. And then here in the middle there's a little arrow and a star. And this is very typical of the work of Leech & Rigdon. If we turn the sword over, we're going to see that the counter side is also etched in a similar manner, with floral work beginning at the top and going to the end. Now, it is very hard to see this etching, but this is something that could be fixed where you could see it better. That would need to be done by a professional.
GUEST: Of course.
APPRAISER: This particular sword is also faked quite a bit. And they've been faking it from the '50s. And some of them are fairly sophisticated. One of the ways that we can ascertain that this sword is in fact genuine is by the way the casting is done in the hilt. If you look here in this floral work, very small, but you can see it, there's little bits of debris. And then it's been goldwashed over the top. Well, this bits of debris is what tells us that it's original. On the reproductions, most of the time that's buffed out. Another thing that we can see is where the "C" and the "S" is, this has been finished out with a little file to bring the high points up. It's never done on the fakes. So we know it's absolutely original. Now, all these little nicks that are in the blade, you would like to think, "Oh, this is some type of battle damage," but more than likely, that's not true. Probably sometime around the turn of the century, a child played with it, and maybe he hit it with another sword. While this is a weapon, it's not really meant to be used as a combat weapon.
APPRAISER: It's meant to be used to move troops... for troop movement.
APPRAISER: It can be used as an object for fighting, but it's not its real intention. These nicks are not deep, so it's not going to really affect the value. It's very important that you have the original scabbard. That adds a tremendous amount to the value. It's very important that it's etched. That adds a great deal to the value. If you take into account that the grip and the wire is perfect and it's a product of a known maker, I think in a retail situation, this sword would probably be valued at around $12,000.
GUEST: Oh... (chuckles) Wow. I had no idea.
APPRAISER: It's a rare Confederate sword.
GUEST: Wonderful. Love it.
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