Sword of Brigadier General of the California Militia Mar 18, 2014 11:10:06 GMT
Post by Jack Loomes on Mar 18, 2014 11:10:06 GMT
An important California presentation sword given to John A. Sutter as Brigadier General of the California Militia
Sacramento City, 1853
Straight 31 1/2 inch double edged blade etched with conventional florals, trophies and Federal eagle with E Pluribus Unum riband and marked "Ames/Mfg.Co./Chicopee/Mass." Gilt brass guard of Mameluke style embossed with foliage and four stars. Mother-of-pearl gripscales. Helmet-form pommel. Double chain knucklebow. Gilt brass scabbard, the front with acanthus panels and delicately engraved inscription: "Presented to/Major General/John A. Sutter/by Captn/A. Andrews/Sacramento City, 1853." Reverse of scabbard stamped Ames Mfg. Co./Chicopee/Mass.
Condition: Blade excellent and showing some light scratches. Hilt and scabbard retain most gilt finish with scattered scratches and light marks. Gripscales with three small hairline cracks.
Note: The story of Swiss adventurer/businessman John Augustus Sutter is well-known. Arriving in California in 1839, he soon became the most important landowner in northern California and by 1848 employed several thousand people in his various business ventures. After gold was discovered at his sawmill in Coloma his workforce melted away as everyone rushed to the gold fields and his business empire collapsed as tens of thousands of gold seekers helped themselves to his land and other assets. He subsequently lost most of his property in lawsuits and retained only a ranch near Marysville. He was made Major-General of the California Militia in February of 1853 and was finally awarded a $250 a year stipend from the state but died in greatly reduced circumstances in 1880.
Captain, later Colonel, Abraham Andrews was born in London in 1826. His family emigrated to New Orleans in 1838 and he was apprenticed to a jeweler. At the outbreak of the Mexican War he enlisted in the 2nd Ohio Volunteers as a lieutenant and was later promoted to Captain. Mustered out in 1848 he went west to California. He founded the jewelry business Hiller and Andrews in Sacramento. Promoted to colonel in the California Militia, he served on Sutter's staff as aide-de-camp. Later moving to San Francisco he had a long and successful career there and built the famous Diamond Palace jewelry store at 50 Kearney St.
The presentation inscription on the sword was no doubt engraved by Colonel Andrew's firm of Hiller and Andrews and perhaps even by Andrews himself.
See pages 221 and 222 of "The Life and Times of General John A. Sutter" by the Rev. T.J. Schoonover, published in Sacramento in 1907 where the author reprints two letters from August of 1853, one from Andrews informing Sutter "...I have deemed it not unappropriate to prepare this sword as a present to you..."; the other Sutter's reply "...I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your highly esteemed favor of this date, accompanied by a sword...."
For an Ames presentation sword of the same pattern see page 148 of The Ames Sword Company by John D. Hamilton.