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Old South Military Antiques

James Conning Foot Officer’s Sword
Item #: OS-7630

The sword’s blade has extensive carbon staining and a small band of pitting about four inches from the tip. This occurred because the scabbard was broken at that point, once upon a time. (I can see that it’s been repaired there, just above the drag) The drag is however original. I can tell for certain because the sword, the top mount, the middle mount and the drag are all serial numbered 261. It’s also been repaired just below the middle mount. I have close ups of both of these places in the accompanying pictures. These must have been from abuse, because the rest of the scabbard is excellent. The blade is smooth, never been sharpened or pointed. Note that the upper mount ring has been intentionally bent into a triangle so that it would not roll. Not important, but a little personal touch.

The following information is the most detailed and up to date information relative to James Conning’s sword making. It is an extract from an article written by Colonel Jeffrey Addicott, titled Now That’s a James Conning.

James Conning was born in New York in 1815 and was listed as a New York silversmith circa 1840. In his mid-twenties, however, Conning left the North and relocated to Mobile, Alabama, where he set up shop as a jeweler. The "adopted Southerner” first appeared in the official Directory for the City of Mobile in 1842, advertising himself as a jeweler and silversmith at 26 Dauphin Street. By all accounts, Conning quickly adopted the norms and customs of the South, even serving as an orderly sergeant in the Washington Light Infantry during the Mexican War of 1845. An astute businessman, Conning’s so-called "jewelry” business quickly prospered by evolving into a military supply store. Accordingly, coterminous with the War with Mexico Conning’s shop offered for sale a wide array of military equipment to include swords. When the Mexican War ended, Conning’s military sales continued to flourish with regular sales to the United States military, various State militia forces, and private buyers. By 1856, Conning had firmly established himself as a respected retail dealer, importer, and even manufacturer of all things military to include swords.

With the outbreak of the War Between the States in 1861, Conning concentrated his business activities to supplying the fledgling Confederacy with military blades of all types. With his supply of imported goods and materials sharply reduced by the Federal blockade of Mobile, he turned to the local Parker Foundry for the production of sword blades, which his "good and competent workmen” then hilted and finished in the Conning machine shop. Conning was no longer an importer/retailer of military goods, but primarily a manufacturer of a large variety of exquisite swords produced for the Confederacy to include cavalry, infantry, and artillery. He repeatedly advertised his sword business as such in local Mobile newspapers. Further, many of his war period blades were marked with the words "made by” in addition to his name, "James Conning,” clearly indicating that his shop was manufacturing the weapons on site. Indeed, Conning was under contract with the State of Alabama to produce both artillery and cavalry sabers, but made and sold officer’s swords privately. Conning’s service as a sword-maker to the South continued until the fall of Mobile in April 1865. With the defeat of the Confederacy, Conning returned to business as a "jewelry” store.

Price $10,800.00 USD