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Lot 709    

U.S. Militia Infantry Officer's Presentation Sword by Ames
4/30/2014 - Firearms and Militaria: Live Salesroom Auction
A fine example by N.P. Ames of the popular antebellum militia pattern sword having a 31" spear point blade with bright floral etchings and star with a center fuller. Brass gold gilt knight's head pommel; bone handle with gold gilded brass crossguard. Brass scabbard inscribed: Presented to Geo McGrath by the Irving Guards as their 1st Prize by Mr. James Irving Oct. 20th, 1853 between the two carrying rings.

The Irving Guards were a New York City volunteer fire company headquartered in "Brooklyn City."  The company  was originally organized in January 1849 as the Washington Irving Hose Company No. 44.  At the time is was common for the city's volunteer fire companies to maintain a "guard" group of select members for para-military drill competitions and target excursions which were widely popular according to A.E. Costello's 1887 book Our Firemen (a copy accompanies the sword).

The "guard" groups were organized by the fire companies themselves and were not considered part of the city or state militia system.  In fact, they were not military at all. The Irving Guard was remembered as "a fine body of men, and annually used to make quite a presentable turnout. They went on their first annual target excursion to Tarrytown, N.Y. on Thanksgiving Day (1849). This was the place of abode of our country's gifted author Washington Irving, in whose honor the company was named. The company maintained a personal relationship with Irving during the early 1850s.

In 1852 the Irving Guards competed in the annual excursion held at Poughkeepsie.  A New York Times article dated November 19, 1852 announced: On Thanksgiving Day the 25th instant, the "Irving Guard" will make the annual target excursion and will proceed on this occasion to East New York, and will be accompanied by the National Band, and commanded by Captain Simpson.

At the time they were quartered in the engine house on 34th St., west of 7th Ave. in the 11th Ward.  George McGrath was the recipient of this fine militia pattern sword as the winner of the 1853 target excursion. In 1854 Hose Company No. 44 was disbanded "for misconduct" and the Irving Guards ceased to exist.  George McGrath and some other former members re-organized as Volunteer Engine Co. No. 51 taking Engine 30's old house on 22nd St. between 1st and 2nd Ave.  McGrath became Assistant Engineer of Engine Co. No. 51 in December 1854.  The Ames militia sword represents an outstanding inscribed artifact reflecting New York City's venerable Fire Department.


Condition:  
The brass hilt retains 20% of its gilt.  The brass scabbard has two small dents and has a dark untouched patina.
Sold: $1,175.00
Price includes
Buyer's Premium
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