High Grade Ames Militia Officer's Presentation Sword

31.25" spear point blade with 12" central fuller. Brass knight's head pommel cap atop an engraved hexagonal hilt with cruciform crossguard terminating in scroll-shaped quillons, with a large turned-down counterguard with a central eagle image, small up-turned counterguard on the reverse and a double chain guard; all heavily gilt in gold. A buff leather washer is in place at the hilt to blade junction. Blade etched with three-line Ames Mfg. Co / Chicopee / Mass address on the reverse ricasso. Blade etched on the obverse with a panoply of arms under a spread-winged eagle, under a ribbon with E. Pluribus Unum. The rest of the obverse blade etched with floral and foliate scrolls and intertwined vines. Reverse etched with the same style floral patterns with a larger panoply of arms as the central image. Hexagonal hilt engraved with flowing scrolls and feathery sprays with geometric boarder lines and punch dot background shading. A ferrule with raised acanthus leaf designs separates the hilt from the guard. The shield-shaped down-turned counterguard shows a raised American Eagle motif with a shield on its breast and the usual olive branches and arrows in its talons on a stippled background. The small up-turned counterguard on the reverse is plain. The crossguard is decorated with flowing leaf designs and stippled background shading as found on the counterguard, terminating in flowing scroll quillons on both ends. The knight's head pommel cap features a Romanesque helmet with a ring of laurels and a feathered central crest with a flowing tail at the rear. The scabbard is gold gilt as well, with the three-line Ames address on the reverse, reading AMES MFG. Co / CHICOPEE / MASS. The upper mount is decorated with leaf motifs and a central shield with two suspension rings, the middle mount shows flowing leaf motifs as well and a single suspension ring. The drag is decorated flowing leaves as well, with applied oak leaf and acorn clusters decorating the last 5" of the scabbard. A presentation is engraved between the two upper mounts and reads in five lines: A token of respect to their commander / Capt. A.H. Kelsey / by the / Lewiston Light Infantry / Oct 18th, 1856.

The town militia of Lewiston, ME had its origins in the post-Revolutionary War period, when a militia of citizens, rather than a standing army was considered the best course of action for local and national defense. The Lewiston militia, known as the Lewiston Light Infantry, was briefly activated during the War of 1812, but after that time returned to primarily peaceful pursuits and the occasional muster and drill. By the 1830s and 1840s the militia had largely declined due to an overall lack of interest and the out of pocket costs associated with the acquisition of the necessary uniforms, arms and equipment to participate in drill. As such the Lewiston Light Infantry largely ceased to exist by around 1840. The unit experienced a renaissance in 1855, and at their first meeting on September 13 of that year they elected Albert H. Kelsey as their captain. By the fall of 1859 the expense of belonging to such a unit had largely relegated it to an organization on paper only, and it would not be materially active again until the outbreak of the Civil War. At which time, the Lewiston Light Infantry was accepted as the first company in the newly formed 1st Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment and were eventually designated as Company F.

The 1st Maine was a 90-day regiment that never went into the field beyond being part of the defenses of Washington. Those that re-enlisted were primarily absorbed into the 10th & 29th Maine Volunteer Infantry. Research has not revealed any military service on the part of Captain Kelsey other than his stint with the Lewiston Light Infantry. Further research may reveal either Mexican War or Civil War service, but this cataloger could not find any. The history of the Lewiston Light Infantry was primarily obtained from Frontier to Industrial City: Lewiston Town Politics 1768 to 1863 by Douglas I Hodgkin.


Excellent overall. Blade remains bright with nearly all of its original polish and retains the large majority of the frosty, acid etched decoration. Only the reverse ricasso where the Ames address is shows any notable degradation in condition, with some light surface hazing and oxidation. Hilt retains the majority of its gold gilt finish, with some thinning and loss, particularly around the transitions between the hexagonal grip and the cylindrical portions hear the guard and pommel cap. Some loss on the knight's head as well, primarily on the feathered helmet crest. Scabbard with some loss as well, primarily along the high edges and contact points of the upper and middle mount and the drag. Throat is loose and comes out of scabbard easily. Truly a superb pre-Civil War militia officer's sword.

Estimate: $6,000 - $9,000
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium


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