N. P. Ames / Cutler / Springfield & N. P. Ames / Cutler / Cabotville / Mass.
Written regulations for the U. S. Army Medical Corps specified the requirement for Surgeons and Assistant Surgeons to obtain and wear dress swords. See additional information on Civil War Medical Service swords.
The Model 1840 Ames Medical Staff sword was fairly unique when compared to the sword patterns for both Staff and Field/Line officers and Non-Commissioned officers of the same time period. These swords were elegant in design and completely ceremonial in purpose.
The rare U. S. Army Model 1840 sword shown below, is an N. P. Ames Model 1840 'Medical Service' marked sword, There is an Old English silver 'M.S.' in raised letters on the large shield of the hilt. One side of the blade is etched 'U.S. Medical Staff'. in an oblong circle of stars. It has 'E Pluribus Unum' etched in a banner over the American Eagle with arrows in talons. The other side of the blade displays an eagle and panoply.
The ricasso is engraved with steel point: N. P. Ames / Cutler / Springfield. The throat of the scabbard is engraved: N. P. Ames / Cutler / Cabotville / Mass. and no date. See the close-up photos below for this important fact and why the sword is so rare.
Note: Cabotville is a historic district in Chicopee, Massachusetts. The moulded round brass grip has an American eagle in relief, oak leaf, with acorn motifs and acanthus leaves on the 'Acorn' nut pommel. There are detailed turned-up quillons decorated with oak leaves. The large shield has an applied silver 'M.S.' and 13 stars within and oak leaf border. The blade is 30 5/8 in. and elliptipal shaped, which is etched with floral designs and the 'M. S. Medical Staff'. The reverse is etched with an American eagle, a stand of arms, and floral work.
Nathan Peabody Ames died in 1847, and the company subsequently changed its name. He was a partner from 1829 to 1847 with James Tyler Ames in Chicopee Mass. as AMES MANUFACTURING COMPANY. Originally founded to manufacture swords and other cutlery for military use, the firm was possibly the first to begin silver plating on a large scale in America. . Based on Ames' date of death, this sword was made between 1840-1847 and would have been carried by the Union Medical Staff into the Civil War period.
(Please click on all images to enlarge for detailed examination)
N. P. Ames / Cutler / Springfield.
N. P. Ames / Cutler / Cabotville / Mass. and no date
'E Pluribus Unum' banner U. S. A Medical Staff Arrows in eagle's talons
U. S. A. Medical Staff
Medical Staff initials in silver
Ames Mfg. Co. by Mike McWatters
The Ames Company started production of military contract swords in 1832 with the M1832 foot artillery sword, and ended with the M1906 cavalry saber in 1906. Ames produced more swords for the American military than any other company before or since, totalling over 200,000 swords in service by the end of the Civil War. In that time, at least ten different manufacturing marks were used on the swords. A little knowledge of the company history helps place a date range for when each stamp was used. When the company started producing swords it was led by Nathan P. Ames, and most marks reflected that fact. In 1847, Nathan died and left the company to his brother James. The markings on the blades were immediately changed from N.P. Ames to Ames Mfg. Co. In 1848, the town of Cabotville was incorporated into Chicopee, Massachusetts, and the marks were once again changed to reflect this. I have, however, seen blades dated as late as 1850 that still bear the Cabotville stamp, as the old dies were probably used until they were worn out.
The 1840 models’ were originally marked with N.P. Ames/Cabotville/date in the 1840s, followed by Ames Mfg. Co. /Cabotville/date around 1847, then by Ames Mfg. Co/Chicoppee/Mass in the 1850s. The latter mark was also used through the Civil war on some cavalry sabers. Sometime in the late 1850s (the earliest I have seen was 1859), Ames started using a new mark on all enlisted models that was carried through the Civil War. The words Made by/Ames Mfg. Co/Chicopee/Mass are enclosed within an unraveled scroll, and initials/US/date is stamped on the opposite side of the blade. This scroll mark is usually very weak, and often has been partially worn down by the scabbard—this is a feature that helps in authenticating the sword. I have also seen one other Ames mark, which I've seen repeatedly, but only on M1860 cavalry sabers dated 1864. The mark is shaped like an arc with the words Ames Mfg. Co/Chicopee,/Mass.
See: Horstmann Medical Service sword
See: Ames Medical Service sword
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Last update: Monday, December 12, 2016