1896 Wisconsin National Guard Presentation Sword

Value (2011) | $2,000 Retail$3,000 Retail

Well, this is a sword that we've always called our Civil War sword. My husband's brother bought it at a swap meet in Portland about 50 years ago. He bought it because our last name is engraved on the blade. Tennant.

What's the first name on it?


Have you ever used the sword?

Yes. We cut our wedding cake with it 48 years ago.

This sword is technically a model 1860 sword, which makes you think it's Civil War, but it's not. On the underside of the guard, we actually have, engraved, the date 1896, and it says, "Presented by Company L. Company L, Second Infantry, WNG." It's Wisconsin National Guard.


This Tennant was from Ashland, Wisconsin, and before he received this sword, he formed the Ashland Rifles. This was probably their way to say thank you, and they actually stayed in service as a different regiment and served during the Spanish-American War. But the sword is a model 1860. Most of the swords of that pattern were made from 1870 on up into around 1900. This one is better than the average bear. Because it's such a high grade, you have the plain Jane ones that they would wear in regular field use, and then you have the high quality ones like this. The regular ones will have plain guards with cast eagles. It's nice and easy to cast a solid brass eagle. This one not only has the casting, somebody went in by hand and did chase work around the eagle to bring the detail out in the eagle where it kind of pops. And the scabbard mounts are done the same way. You pay extra for that chase work, you pay extra for the gold inlay on the blade, they had to pay extra to have the name put on it, and the handle is a little better than usual. Usually it has a simple brass handle. This one has a pewter handle that's silver washed and it has the braided wire on top of the handle. This sword, in today's world, because of all the ornateness, and because we know who had it, is probably worth somewhere between $2,000 and $3,000.


The unnamed swords, the ones that we don't know who carried it, they usually sell between $200 and $300. So this one is worth ten times as much.

That's great. Maybe we shouldn't have cut the cake with it.

(laughs) One cake every 50 years won't bother it.

Appraisal Details

Shiloh Civil War Relics
Savannah, TN
Appraised value (2011)
$2,000 Retail$3,000 Retail
Eugene, OR (June 04, 2011)
March 12, 2012: After this segment aired, appraiser Rafael Eledge caught a mistake in his appraisal of this presentation sword. Eledge says that the Ashland Rifles did in fact serve in the same regiment (the 2nd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, Company "L") during the Spanish War as they had during the Civil War.

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