November 15 & 16, 2022 Extraordinary Firearms & Militaria
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 11/15/2022
This brass-hilted small sword is identified as the work of James Geddy or his sons in Williamsburg by the archeological recovery of identically decorated quillon blocks from the Governor's Palace, the property of carpenter James Wray and, most importantly, from the Geddy foundry site, all in Williamsburg. In addition, tests of the grip identified it as American grown wood of the Birch family. Often taken as an inexpensive gentleman's small sword, this pattern appears among those selected by British regimental commanders for infantry enlisted men from about 1720 to their abolition in 1768, and are shown in works such as Hogarth's March of the Guards to Finchley, painted 1749-50. An identical sword in the Williamsburg collection is so identified in Mullins, "Of Sorts for Provincials," pgs. 173-174, leading to the possibility it was a pattern selected at the company or regimental level for an American provincial or militia unit. The globe pommel mounts a capstan rivet and is decorated with classical full-standing figures and scrolling floral motifs. The floral elements are repeated midway on the knucklebow and quillon finial, which turns slightly to the right. The double clamshell guard is cast with classical and floral motifs as well. On both sides of the obverse guard reclining figures face one another with a globe between and arms hooked though a horn of plenty behind them. On the reverse guard the figures are turned away from one another and hold leafy C-scrolls. The upper edge of the guard on all sides bears a shallow basket or tray with 2 tiers of apples. This element is repeated on both sides of the quillon block with a figure carrying a similar tray or basket carrying apples, the obverse showing 2 tiers of apples and reverse, 1. The scene has been interpreted as Heracles or Atlas bearing the apples of the Hesperides, a fitting motif for a colonial American sword since the myth involves a journey west to the end of the world. The wood core of the grip is present with 4-strand turk's head knots of twisted brass wire present top and bottom, but the wire wrap missing. The blade is straight, double edged, tapering gently to a spearpoint, with a short, narrow, central fuller extending 3 - 1/4" from the guard, with "- I - - H - - I -" stamped in the fuller and a rubbed blade maker mark just below. CONDITION: Very good. The blade is silver gray in tone with good edge and point, having just scattered dark gray spots and areas of shallow freckling. The hilt is tight. The reverse grip had a 2" x 1/2" rectangle removed for analysis that confirmed the American origin of the wood. This could and should be restored by a competent conservator. The turkshead knots are undisturbed. The upper pas-d'ane ring is missing about half its length. The lower is full length, but the end is bent slightly and curves over the counterguard. The quillon finial curves to the right, probably intended. The sword is accompanied by a draft article by Hartzler on the sword and the few other known parallels, grouping it with 2 others showing signs of sand-casting and unrefined details in the brass elements indicating he was working from other examples. James Geddy I arrived in Williamsburg by 1733 and died there in 1744. Sons David and William carried on the gunsmith, cutlery, and foundry trade, but sons James II and John, silversmiths, would also have been capable of the work.
Blade Length
28 - 3/4"
Overall Length
35 - 1/4"
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $1,000.00
Final prices include buyers premium: $5,280.00
Estimate: $2,000 - $5,000
Number Bids: 23
Auction closed on Wednesday, November 16, 2022.
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