1813 Congressional Presentation Sword
Appraised Value: $30,000
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (2:34)
Arms & Militaria
J. Christopher Mitchell American Antiques & Militaria
GUEST: It was given to my great-great-great-uncle for his service during the Battle of Lake Erie in 1813. He served with Perry on a ship that Perry commanded. And the government gave eight of these swords out after the war.
APPRAISER: Anything that's presented by an act of Congress is quite rare. There are very few swords that would have been given out by Congress. Congress basically has an act, and they've decided to give these as tokens of esteem for service for somebody who's done something very gallant for their country. The maker of this sword is in Philadelphia. They made a contract with a very famous sword maker who made sword fittings and mounts. His name was Rose. And then the etching that we see on this blade, clear through to where the presentation is, is done by one of the very first American etchers, and his name was Meer. So anything that's made by Rose and etched by Meer is quite desirable, and they're often well made. The handle on this particular example, it's made out of brass. Then it's got a silver wash on it, and then it's been gold-washed. Now, there is some damage here. This is not uncommon. When the knuckle bow came all the way out, right here in a cameo-- of course it's missing-- was a bust of Lady Liberty with a liberty cap on.
APPRAISER: And they are available, and this could be repaired. That's not going to be a real serious problem. If we look at the top, we're going to notice that the pommel cap has come loose. And that's simply pinned in. Also, again, a very easy repair without any real trouble. Originally, the sword had a leather scabbard, had three brass mounts that were on it, so it shows up quite a bit missing that scabbard. And just through attrition, they disappear. Now, I know that your understanding was there were eight of these made, but I think modern scholars actually are of the opinion that there were around 77 that were given. So it's not maybe quite as rare as you thought, but then again you have to take into account that's very, very few swords. So it's still very special, still very desirable. I think in this condition, this sword for retail is around $30,000.
GUEST: My goodness! I can't imagine that. Been sitting in the closet all my life. (laughing)
APPRAISER: You always hear us say, "Oh, don't fix it, don't clean it, don't do anything like that." But this particular sword, handled by a professional, it would not harm it to go ahead and repair it. It's not going to increase the value, or at least not a tremendous amount, but it would make it nicer to look at and it would make the blade easier to read. If this knuckle bow were not broken and you had the scabbard, this is a sword that you would expect to pay, retail, $50,000 for.
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