Rare Id'd "Script CS" Sword

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Description and Photograph

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     The sword shown here is one of the rarest and most desirable of all Confederate swords.  Less than five of these (I say this conservatively, it is likely only four) are known to exist.  Of these, I believe this to be the only one in its original scabbard.  This particular sword has a long documented history.  The Confederate owner, whose name is unfortunately lost, originally acquired the sword from Thomas, Griswold & Company. 

     It is known as the “Script CS” because of the large ornate CS cast in script on the face of the sword’s basket.  The sword was made by Thomas, Griswold & Company.  Henry Thomas and Arthur Breese Griswold made some of the finest swords produced in the Confederacy prior to the fall of New Orleans in June of 1862.  The company used a variety of markings on their distinctive swords; some are marked with the full company name and address, some are marked with only initials and some are totally unmarked.  There must have been some reason, known for certain only to the manufacturers, for these variations.  The company manufactured swords to sell at retail on the New Orleans market and wholesale to retailers such as Hayden & Whilden of Charleston, South Carolina.  The latter were stamped with Hayden and Whilden’s name and address.  It is also known that Thomas, Griswold & Co. made swords for the Confederate and various Southern state governments.  It has long been my contention that the swords made for the retail market were marked with the full firm name and address like that shown here.  The swords marked with only the initials were for sale to the Confederate government and the unmarked were sold wholesale to other military outfitters such as Hayden & Whilden of Charleston, South Carolina.  This sword, with its full name and address fits that contention in that it is a field and staff pattern, intended for use by officers ranking major and above.  These officers had to purchase their own arms from the retail trade.

     The sword is first documented as having been owned by U.S. Major Grotius Reed Giddings.  The Major was promoted to Colonel for his gallantry at Gettysburg where he commanded the 14th United States Volunteers. 

     The sword has an unbroken pedigree of ownership since that time.  Colonel Leon C. Jackson originally purchased the sword from Major Giddings family.  When he owned it, it was shown on page 164 of William Albaugh’s work on Confederate swords.  It was shown without the scabbard, but according to the complete lineage, the scabbard was always with it and the evidence shows this to be the case.  It was purchased from Mr. Jackson by William Albaugh, from Mr. Albaugh to Donald Tharpe, from Mr. Tharpe to Gary Hendershott, from Mr. Hendershott to a private collector, from him to Old South Military Antiques. 

     The sword’s russet grip wrap is beautiful and nearly one hundred percent complete but has several small areas of the leather worn through, indicating much use.  The twisted brass wire wrap is complete and remains very tight.  The ornate basket, decorated with a script CS below draped banners and bracketed by four Confederate flags, the whole surmounted by a laurel wreath, remains tight as well.  The knuckle guard, as well as the pommel, is ornately decorated.  The guard is heavily gilted, as demonstrated by the unexposed portion where the scabbard’s throat rested against it and protected it from the environment.  The remainder is covered with a rich, deep patina.  The blade is in good condition; is smooth and semi-bright with dark mottles.  It has been lightly cleaned and has numerous minor nicks along the edge.  The sword’s original leather scabbard is in virtually perfect untouched condition.  It too has heavily gilted mounts, as demonstrated by the area at the top of the throat where it rested against the sword’s guard.  The leather remarkably retains its original gloss finish.

     The sword comes with a large file of documentation of ownership and history.

     This sword has every feature a collector could desire; rarity, condition, history, and provenance. 

 

 

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