This innovative sword incorporates a three-dimensional figure as its grip, a feature inspired by French sword designs of the 1840s. Here, the armored female figure holds a shield with the American arms and a wreath of victory, imagery referring both to Athena as goddess of war and Columbia, personification of the United States. This is a second casting of a hilt designed by the Ames Manufacturing Company for a sword presented to Mexican War hero General Franklin Pierce by the State of New Hampshire in 1849. The recipient of the Metropolitan's sword was Richard French, captain of the New York militia company known as the LaFayette Fusiliers. The sword was presented to him by the men of his company on June 21, 1850.
Inscription: Etched on the front top of the blade, the manufacturer's name: Ames Mfg. Co., Chicopee, Mass; inscribed on the middle applied mount of the scabbard: “Capt. Richard French by the LaFayette Fusiliers 12th Regiment, 4th Brigade, New York, June 21, 1850.”
Marking: On a shield held by the figure of Columbia on the grip: the arms of the United States.
Private collection, New York (until 2012; Mid-Winter Art & Antique sale, Capo Auctions, Long Island City, N.Y., February 25, 2012, no. 292, to MMA).
Hamilton, John D. The Ames Sword Company, 1829–1935. Providence, R.I.: Mowbray Co., 1983. pp. 88, 97, 114 (a similar sword discussed and illustrated).
Capo Auctions. Mid-Winter Art & Antiques. Long Island City, N.Y.: Capo Auctions, February 25, 2012. no. 292.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Recent Acquisitions: A Selection: 2010–2012." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (Fall 2012), p. 56, ill.