Model 1840 U.S. Engineer Officer's Sword and Scabbard by N.P. Ames

  • This remarkably rare sword was crafted especially for a member of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Called the Model 1840 Engineer Officer's Sword, the design was only in use for ten years
  • The elite Corps of Engineers had fewer than 40 members at the time of this weapon's creation
  • Crafted by N.P. Ames, it is beautifully executed with gilt accents and symbols of the Corps
  • Get complete item description here
Item No. 31-3992

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An important and beautifully crafted piece of American militaria, this Model 1840 Army Engineer Officer’s presentation sword is among the rarest of all American military swords. Crafted by N.P. Ames, founder of the renowned Ames Manufacturing Company, the sword was presented by the men of his company to Lieutenant A.S. Keith, a graduate of West Point and a member of the elite United States Army Corps of Topographical Engineers.

The design and quality of the sword and scabbard are impeccable from hilt to tip, and it is decorated in quintessentially American motifs. It features a gilt brass handle cast to resemble two coiled, intertwined rattlesnakes and a folding knuckle guard bearing the image of a turreted castle, the symbol of the United States Army Corps of Engineers. The Model 1840 was the only regulation American military sword with a triangular, or rapier, blade, and the blade itself is crafted of steel and engraved with a leaf and acorn motif along its length, signed by the maker N.P. Ames and inscribed with the words “U.S. Corps of Engineers.” The scabbard also bears brilliant gilt accents and the presentation inscription to Lieutenant Keith.

Formally established in 1838 as a bureau of the War Department, the Corps of Topographical Engineers was responsible for designing and constructing federal defense and civil works such as coastal fortifications and navigational routes, and it was instrumental in settling the American West and establishing transcontinental railroad routes. The organization was highly exclusive and consisted only of carefully vetted officers from the top of each West Point class. In fact, when General order No. 7 was issued on Feb. 19, 1840 specifying the adoption of the sword, there were fewer than 40 members of the Corps.

This Engineer Officer’s sword’s design, known as the Model 1840, was made solely by Ames and only in use for ten years, and it was one of the most exclusive and expensive U.S. military swords ever manufactured. This fact, combined with the Corps of Engineer’s small size, means that these swords are extremely rare today and highly coveted by collectors of American militaria.

A similar Ames Model 1940 Engineer Officer’s sword is pictured in The American Sword: 1775-1945 by Harold L. Peterson (p. 145, fig. 128).

Circa 1840

Inscribed “Presented to Lieut A.S. Keith by the Members of his Company as a Token of Respect and Affection”

Signed "N. P. Ames/Cutler/Springfield"

38 1/2" length
Model 1840 U.S. Engineer Officer's Sword and Scabbard by N.P. Ames
Period: 19th Century
Origin: America
Type: Arms and Armor
Depth: 0.88 Inches
Width: 4.13 Inches
Height: 38.5 Inches

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