November 17, 2017 10:00 AM EST Cincinnati


Nicholas Gilman, New Hampshire Patriot, Revolutionary War Veteran, and Signer of the US Constitution, Sword and Bible

32.25 in. triangular blade, silver plated smallword style hilt, pierced guard, and silver wrapped grip with silver undergrip. Blade decorated with panoply of arms along with floral themes. Hilt engraved with geometric patterns, stars, and floral themes. Also includes 1809 family bible with genealogical lines.

Born to a New Hampshire mercantile family in 1755, Gilman quickly learned the family trade and became a skilled administrator and financier. He was appointed a representative of his community in the New Hampshire provincial congress, and later as the Treasurer of the state's first General Court under its new constitution, the first drafted by any American commonwealth. He would continue to serve as the state's Treasurer throughout the Revolution.

His keen ability to handle monetary and logistical issues did not go unnoticed by the state's leaders, and in November 1776, he was appointed Adjutant of the 3rd New Hampshire Regiment under Colonel Alexander Scammell. Gilman's time in the 3rd New Hampshire would lead him to participate in some of the most celebrated events of the Revolutionary War, such as the Battles of Saratoga, where Gilman's regiment was heavily engaged and suffered significant casualties. These victories did not allow Gilman any rest, as he went with his regiment to reinforce Washington at Philadelphia and suffer the bitter winter at Valley Forge.

It was from the cold of Valley Forge that Gilman achieved a great personal victory. Colonel Scammell had been appointed the Adjutant General of the Continental Army, and Gilman was chosen as his assistant. This position afforded him daily contact with not only General Washington himself, but also high ranking members of the Continental Army such as General Nathaniel Greene, General Henry Knox, Colonel Alexander Hamilton, and the legendary Baron von Steuben.  Serving with Washington's Army, he would see action at Monmouth and Yorktown, retiring from the service in 1783.

Gilman would continue to serve New Hampshire as a representative at the Constitutional Convention of 1787.  Eager to draft a document to replace the weak Articles of Confederation, he helped to secure New Hampshire's narrow decision to ratify. His signature on the Constitution can be found third from the top in the rightmost column, just underneath George Washington and John Langdon. Gilman would continue to serve as a Member of the House of Representatives for four terms as well as a term as state Senator. In 1801, he accepted an appointment as Federal Bankruptcy Commissioner from President Thomas Jefferson. He served another tenure as Senator for New Hampshire in 1804 until his death in May of 1814.

Included in the lot is Gilman's family King James bible, published in 1809. Inscribed on the flyleaf are at least two generations of Gilman family names. It also bears his signature and October 1810 date. Also included is a copy of the 1933 will of Joseph Gilman, which describes a sword which was " of my great, great, uncle....who was Paymaster General on the staff of General Washington during the Revolutionary War...."  

Lot is accompanied by two 2015 signed and notarized affidavits of authenticity.  


Good condition.  Blade has a dull gunmetal patina with light spots of rust and pitting throughout, the heaviest areas being on ricasso near guard and last 2-3" of tip.  Some other minor pitting present throughout.  Edge has three dents midway through the blade.  Etchings on ricasso are visible and retain much of their detail.  Red leather washer is present with some staining and brittleness.  Guard has a dull luster with some tarnish.  Guard also shows signs of previous attempts at restoration, with cleaning agent residue under guard and in low areas of etching.  Silver wire and undergrip have separated slightly, exposing wood underneath.  Bible is in very good condition.  Some discoloration on pages from age, with some wear on spine and corners of cover.  Folios are still well-attached and text block shows only minor warping from age.


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