Original U.S. Civil War M-1840 Army NCO's Sword by C. Roby with Scabbard - Dated 1863
Original Item: Only One Available. This is an very nice well patinated example of a U.S. Civil War issue Model 1840 Non-Commissioned Officer's sword, just acquired at an estate sale, untouched for years. It was produced by Christopher Roby of West Chelmsford, Massachusetts. This company was of a much smaller scale than Ames, and all Roby made edged weapons are somewhat rare.
The sword measures 38 1/2" overall, and has an all-brass hilt, with a "double scallop" cross guard, and a "D" hand guard enclosing the knurled hand grip. Comes complete in its straight brass-mounted steel scabbard with intact frog hook. The 32 inch straight blade's ricasso is marked on one side with the C. Roby circular maker mark, which is missing the right portion due to being lightly struck (very common):
W. CHELMS[FORD MA.]
On opposite side of the 35" curved blade it is marked
We have had a number of Roby swords before, and among all of the makers, they seem to have the most variation in markings. We have seen at least 4 different ways that they marked the name of the firm on the blade ricasso, and often it will be stamped unevenly, so only part of it can be read. This example has a fully legible maker mark, a rarity.
The only inspector mark on the guard is another F.S.S., so this sword's blade and handle were inspected by Frederick S. Strong, who worked at Roby from 1862 until 1863, inspecting NCO and Musician swords. There is no inspector marking that we can see on the scabbard, which seems to be typical for Roby produced scabbards.
The sword is in very good service used condition, with a very nice blade that shows light wear to the edge from service. It does however show oxidation and staining from contact with the leather scabbard, which we have left intact to preserve the history. The all brass handle has a lovely oxidized patina, with no damage or bending.
The scabbard is in very good shape as well, with no cracks or bends to the leather body. The finish has however cracked, very common on leather of this age, and it has shrunk a bit over the years, so it no longer completely covers the blade. The throat fitting has lost the securing brass staple, so it can be moved on the scabbard body. The brass fittings have the same great aged patina as the handle.
This is an absolutely genuine U.S. Civil War issue Model 1840 Army NCO sword, offered in very good condition. Ready to clean up or display as is!
Blade Length: 32"
Blade Style: Single Edged Sword with Fuller
Overall length: 38 1/2“
Guard: 5"W x 5"L
Scabbard Length: 32 1/2"
History of the M-1840 Army NCO and Musicians' Swords:
The Model 1840 noncommissioned officers' sword was adopted in 1840. Based primarily on a sword used by the French Army, the model 1840 NCO proved somewhat heavy hilted and ill balanced. For over 70 years, it was widely used by the Army; today its usage is restricted to ceremonial occasions. The sword had a 31-inch blade (some being slightly longer), a cast brass hilt resembling the more expensive wire-wrapped leather grips, and a leather scabbard rather than the steel used by cavalry troopers and officers. Although some makers, such as Emerson and Silver issued a steel scabbard rather than leather to protect from wear. Leather scabbards were phased out beginning in 1868.
The sword was carried by sergeants during the Mexican–American War and the American Civil War; it was worn either on a white or black baldric or with an Enfield bayonet frog. A shorter version with a 26-inch blade was carried by musicians, this was called the Model 1840 musicians' sword. NCOs of the rank sergeant and above were to carry it. During the Mexican–American War, it was more likely to be carried. It wasn't always issued to volunteer regiments during the Civil War. The sword replaced the sword more commonly known as the Model 1832 foot artillery sword which was used by both the infantry and the artillery regiments from 1832 to 1840.
The primary contractor for the production of the M1840 NCO sword seems to have been the Ames Manufacturing Company. The weapon was made with a blunt edge as it was intended for stabbing rather than slashing (as in the case of a curved cavalry sabre). It was the main weapon of standard bearers (along with the Colt Army Model 1860 and Colt 1851 navy revolver) and hospital stewards, as well as a secondary weapon for infantry NCOs. The sword was also used by the Confederates who captured many after seizing state arsenals.
There was a variant of the M1840 without a handguard called the musicians' sword which was intended for use by musicians as a personal defense weapon.
The M1840 has had a long service life, seeing frontline service from the Mexican War until the Spanish–American War. In 1868 the ordnance board recommended that no more leather sword, or bayonet scabbards be purchased, so after the leather ones were used up, a black Japanned steel scabbard was substituted, along with a new pattern leather frog. It remained in service as a ceremonial weapon until general orders No. 77 dated August 6, 1875 discontinued its use. A modern version of this sword with steel scabbard is currently permitted for wear by US Army platoon sergeants and first sergeants; in practice it is rarely seen outside the 3rd Infantry Regiment (the "Old Guard") and honor guards. Some army NCOs have this sword and wear it for social occasions, regardless of duty as a platoon sergeant or first sergeant.
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