Revolutionary War Dragoon Sword
Appraised Value: $20,000 (2013)
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (2:56)
Arms & Militaria
J. Christopher Mitchell American Antiques & Militaria
GUEST: This sword has been in my family ever since I can remember. And it belonged to my great-grandfather, who was in the Confederate Army. And really, that's pretty much what I know about the sword.
APPRAISER: What was his name, do you remember?
GUEST: Charles Force. He actually was a brother to Manning Ferguson Force, who fought for the Union Army. He was captured, and I really think that Manning Force was the one who was able to get him released.
APPRAISER: Oh, really?
APPRAISER: Well, I think it's kind of neat when you're thinking about the American Civil War and we think about this brother against brother and that whole idea. But I actually have another question for you because I would be interested to know if you knew anybody in your family who was in the Revolutionary War?
GUEST: I believe my great-great-grandfather was.
APPRAISER: Okay, did he happen to be a Virginian?
APPRAISER: He was not?
APPRAISER: Okay, okay. Well, we're going to go into the whole idea of how and when and where this sword could be used, but the basic big tenet to start with is this is definitely a sword from the American Revolution.
GUEST: Oh, is it?
APPRAISER: Yes, ma'am, it is. All right, this sword was actually manufactured in 1779 in France.
GUEST: Oh, yes.
APPRAISER: But made for export to the United States to be used there in the American Revolution. And one of the things we're going to look at here is it says, "Dragoon of Virginia." And that's why I was asking you if you knew if he happened to be a Virginian. All right, this sword came in three basic patterns. There's a grenadier of Virginia, there's an artillery of Virginia and then there's the dragoon of Virginia. The first two are actually different. They're about two-thirds in size, so they're quite a bit smaller and they have an all-brass grip, and it's fashioned after what the French would call a briquette. So kind of a totally different sword. This one is very unusual. You don't see this quite as much. If we turn it over, you're going to see this really interesting motto, and it's one of the things that collectors just love and desire. It says...
GUEST: "Victory or death." Yes, I saw that.
APPRAISER: So I mean, that's a lot of fun. Everybody can associate, you know, what's going on with that. So it's a desirable feature. But the dragoon of Virginia, that's the driving portion of what makes this sword special. If you stand back and you really take a look at this sword, it doesn't look like much.
GUEST: No. No, I really actually thought the other sword we brought would be more important, and it wasn't important at all.
APPRAISER: Well, this is actually a very rare sword. It's very desirable. Like I said, the collectors, they really like it and they like the history behind it. They like the whole idea, the association with France, with the United States--or what's becoming the United States. I will tell you for a retail, even in this shape, this sword is worth about $20,000.
APPRAISER: Yes, ma'am. It is a very, very rare sword. That's where the value is. It's in those mottos, it's in that "Dragoon of Virginia."
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