Prospective purchasers are advised that several co… Read more


The hilt and scabbard mount signed by John Bailey (c.1737-1815), Verplanck's Point, New York, 1776-1778
With ivory and silver-wire wrapped hilt. The underside of the quillon with maker's mark, Bailey; the steel blade marked ANDREA on one side and FERARA on the other with turbaned Moor's head touchmarks; the leather scabbard with upper silver mount engraved on the obverse, S. Blodget and on the reverse J. Bailey Verplank's Point; the lower silver mount engraved Capt. D. Jewell West Point 1778
33¼ in. long (the sword), 27¼ in. long (the scabbard)
Probably Samuel Blodget, Jr. (1757-1814) or possibly his father, Samuel Blodget (1724-1807)
Daniel Jewell (1744-1831), Stratham, New Hampshire
Thence by descent in the Jewell family
Purchased from Katrina Kipper, Accord, Massachusetts, July 1929
Special notice
Prospective purchasers are advised that several countries prohibit the importation of property containing materials from endangered species, including but not limited to coral, ivory and tortoiseshell. Accordingly, prospective purchasers should familiarize themselves with relevant customs regulations prior to bidding if they intend to import this lot into another country.

Lot Essay

Made during the first years of the Revolutionary War and surviving with its original leather scabbard, this silver-mounted sword is an outstanding relic of America history. It is marked on the hilt and signed on the scabbard by John Bailey (c.1737-1815), a prominent New York swordsmith and cutler. Before the War, he operated a shop on Maiden Lane in New York City but after the British seized the city in August, 1776 and destroyed his shop, he removed to upstate New York. Although his exact dates in Verplanck's Point, the locale inscribed under his name on the scabbard, are unknown, it is most likely that he was there soon after leaving New York City. Located just thirty miles north of the city, Verplanck's Point lies en route to Fredericksburg (now Ludingtonville) and Fishkill, towns where Bailey was living by 1778 as indicated by the following advertisement:

John Bailey, Cutler from New-York, is removed from Fredericksburgh to Fish-kill, where he intends to carry on his business extensively in its several branches. Workmen are much wanted, such as Cutlers, capable of making Surgeon's instruments, who can file well, Silver Smiths, White and Blacksmiths, who will meet with the best encouragement.
-New-York Packet, and the American Advertiser, May 14, 1778. Cited in Rita Susswein Gottesman, The Arts and Crafts in New York, 1777-1799 (New York, 1954), p. 220.

While in Fishkill, Bailey made the famous "Battle sword" carried by George Washington through the remainder of the War. With a plainer pommel and green-stained grip, Bailey's sword is easily recognizable in period paintings, including those by Charles Willson Peale (see lot 547), and survives today in the collection of the Smithsonian (for an image of the sword and its scabbard, see; see also, Thornton A. Washington, "The Swords of Washington," New England Historical and Genealogical Register, vol. 48 (January 1894), pp. 21-27). It appears that Bailey returned to New York City after the War for he is buried in the cemetery of St. Paul's Chapel in lower Manhattan and it is only from his gravestone, which states that he died in 1815 at the age of seventy eight, that his life-dates are known (see

Several closely related swords by Bailey are known. Made for William Peck, only one other has been found that bears the inscription of "Verplank's Point [sic]." Like the Blair Collection example, it has a lion's-head pommel, ivory grip with double chainguard, and steel blades marked ANDREA FARARA. While Farara was a renowned sixteenth-century Italian swordsmith, German bladesmiths from Solingen, Germany working during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries frequently employed the Farara brand to add caché to their wares. The lion's-head pommel, a symbol of Britain, was a design introduced into America in the mid-eighteenth century and, although its popularity declined after the outbreak of the War for Independence, it remained in use through the War. The form and chased details of Bailey's lion's-head pommels are remarkably similar to those made by different craftsmen, such as William Moulton (1720-1793) of Newburyport, Massachusetts and it is likely that in addition to the blades, American makers imported other components for assembly in their shops (Hermann Warner Williams, Jr., "American silver-hilted swords," The Magazine Antiques (June 1955), pp. 511-513; John K. Lattimer, "Sword hilts by early American silversmiths," The Magazine Antiques (February 1965), pp. 196-197; for other related swords made by Bailey, see Daniel D. Hartzler, Silver Mounted Swords: The Lattimer Family Collection (2000), pp. 19, 149-153, figs. 27, 250-255).

As suggested by inscriptions on the scabbard, the sword was owned by S. Blodget and D. Jewell. Blodget was most likely the first owner as his name appears at the top of the scabbard, the engraving is similar to Bailey's signature, and the descent of the sword in the Jewell family indicates that Jewell was the later owner. According to Katrina Kipper, who sold the sword to Mrs. Blair in 1929, S. Blodget stands for Samuel Blodget (or Blodgett) (1724-1807), who was born in Woburn, Massachusetts, served during the French and Indian War and was a Judge in Goffstown, New Hampshire. However, there is no indication that he was in service from 1776 to 1778, the years in which this sword is thought to have been made. Instead, his son, Samuel Blodget, Jr. (1757-1814) is known to have served as a Captain in the New Hampshire militia from the outbreak of the War until December 1777, and it is quite possible that he was the first owner of the sword. Portrayed by John Trumbull in 1786 (fig. 1), the younger Blodget later became a prominent figure in civic buildings projects and was the designer of the first Bank of the United States (see www. Furthermore, the younger Blodget's resignation in late 1777 coincides neatly with the 1778 date on the Jewell engraved mount and it is possible that on his way home from active duty, Blodget gave or sold his sword to Jewell. As noted by Katrina Kipper, the Jewell referred to was Daniel Jewell (1744-1831) of Stratham, New Hampshire and was purchased from one of his descendants (Katrina Kipper, untitled notes on the history of the sword, August 6, 1929, Blair Collection Papers).

More from Property From the Collection of Mrs. J. Insley Blair

View All
View All