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War of 1812 Five-Ball Eaglehead Infantry Officer Saber
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A "five-ball" guard, eagle pommel saber showing traces of silvering on the hilt, indicating infantry use. This pattern of short saber was a popular import into this country from about 1805 to 1812. This one is 33 1/4 inches overall with a 27 1/2 inch long blade that is 1 1/4 inches wide at the guard, curved, with a broad, central fuller, single edge, and narrow ricasso. The blade has a good edge and point. The engraving is visible. Each side has a short bit of floral engraving just above the ricasso and again about nine inches up the blade. In between on the inboard side are crossed halberds over a spear topped by a liberty cap, with a kettle drum where the shafts of the weapons cross. On the outboard side the central motif is a again a spear topped by a liberty cap, but with crossed branches as a surrounding motif. These are visible, a small bit of the gilt filling is there, but do not jump out at you. The metal is smooth and mix of dull gray and deeper gray areas. The only pitting is on the short ricasso just above the guard.
The bone grip is rounded with a slight swell, and vertically reeded with pairs of incised lines. There is one small chip next to the eaglehead, otherwise very good. The blade tang on the top of the pommel has not been messed with and the grip is tight, but the eagle head is very slightly down, raising the collar away from the edge of the bone slightly. This is likely from the sword being dropped on its end at some point. Ironically this has served to keep the grip very tight.
The brass hilt shows traces of old silvering, no more than about five percent, and now a dull gray, but enough to show it was intended for infantry service. US dragoons, like infantry, used silver as a branch of service color, but I think the blade length does not quite qualify as horseman's saber. Infantry officers in theory were carrying straight-bladed weapons, but the use of short sabers by British flank officers starting in 1803 seems to have had an influence.