Silver-Mounted Revolutionary War Sword

Value (2013) | $10,000 Auction$15,000 Auction
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GUEST:
It was handed down through my family on my father's side. I was told that it belonged to Colonel Oliver Spencer. His daughter, Sarah Bloomfield Spencer Evans, moved to the Felicianas in the Spanish land grants in the early 1800s and I've since owned it down through the family.

APPRAISER:
So who is Colonel Spencer?

GUEST:
Colonel Oliver Spencer was in the Revolutionary Army serving under General George Washington. I was told that this was presented to him as his dress sword.

APPRAISER:
And how do we know it was presented by George Washington?

GUEST:
Just by my grandmother's tales.

APPRAISER:
We do know that Colonel Oliver Spencer served in the Revolutionary War. A fairly prominent figure, he served in, I believe, the Battles of Monmouth and Brandywine. He had an illustrious career, so he would have known George Washington, so it does have that association.

GUEST:
I see.

APPRAISER:
The majority of swords of this type, silver mounted, were actually made in England because that was where this type of thing... there was a large manufactory by different silversmiths and cutlers, even in making swords for the colonies.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
But anything that was silver-mounted in England would have been hallmarked. I was unable to find any marks on the sword, so it's therefore certainly American. And the number of silver-hilted American swords is fairly scarce.

GUEST:
I see.

APPRAISER:
And from the style of the pommel here, it's a lion's head and it has a beautiful flowing mane. It's very similar to a sword smith by the name of John Bailey, who was in Fishkill, New York, active in the 1770s, during the period of the Revolution. And John Bailey's claim to fame was he actually made swords for George Washington.

GUEST:
Wow. (laughs)

APPRAISER:
So that's an interesting association.

GUEST:
That's awesome.

APPRAISER:
However, it would probably be very, very difficult to prove any association between... other than the fact that he served under Washington-- to prove anything in terms of the gift. Because, again, we can attribute this to Bailey, but we can't say that with any certainty, either.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
As a silver-hilted American sword, as is, with no other provenance, I would say that it was probably worth $5,000 to $7,000.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
But with the prominence of your ancestor and the service that he saw through the Revolutionary War, and that, even though we don't have that association with Washington, he was there and we know who he was because it's been in your family ever since, if I had this auctioned, I would easily put it at around $10,000 to $15,000.

GUEST:
Very nice, that's wonderful. (laughs)

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Bonhams, San Francisco
San Francisco, California
Appraised value (2013)
$10,000 Auction$15,000 Auction
Event
Baton Rouge, LA (July 27, 2013)
Form
Sword
Material
Silver

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