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Early M1875 Mameluke


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Here's my latest acquisition, a pre-1915 version of the USMC M1875 officer’s mameluke. Pre-1915 versions of this sword are quite hard to find. I’ve been looking for a decent example for several years. I presume this scarcity is due to the small size of the Marine Corps at this time. At the turn of the century there were fewer than 300 Marine on active duty at any given time.


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My sword was sold by F. J. Heiberger, a prominent Washington, D.C. military outfitter, and was likely made by Ames. It is etched with the name J. M. Salladay. James McClay Salladay (1878 - 1957) was the son of a Chicago-based Government inspector who was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in December 1899. He served in a variety of overseas and domestic assignments including the Dominican Republic, Phillipimes, Guam, and the Virgin Islands. He was also a company commander with the Marine Guards at the American Legation in China. While in the Philippines in 1908 he apparently contracted a recurring disease, probably malaria, which plagued him intermittently throughout his career and probably led to his relatively early retirement as a Lieutenant colonel in 1920.


It was a bit pricy – I paid $1000 for it. I honestly don’t know if I paid too much for it or not. As I said, these don’t come on the market very often, so I don’t really have any comparables by which to judge. If any forum members have pre-1915 examples, I’d appreciate seeing their pictures.

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Some background info: The Marines first adopted the mameluke in 1826. The specifications called for "a plain brass scabbard sword or saber, with a Mameluke hilt of white Ivory & gold tassels; extreme length of sword, three feet one inch & a half, curve of blade half an inch only ... the hilt in length (which included in the extreme length of the sword) four inches & three quarters ... width of blade one inch”.


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In 1859 they gave up the mameluke in favor of the Army M1850 foot officers’ sword, but many Marine officers were unhappy with the change, and the mameluke was restored in 1875. The new sword was very similar to the pre-Civil War mamelukes, the primary difference being that the pre-war brass scabbard with the center ridge was replaced by a more modern nickel-plated scabbard with gilt mountings. The 1875 regulation actually called for German silver scabbards, but I have not seen one in that material. It seems makers opted for the more practical nickel -plated steel. Certain features of the sword were also standardized, i.e. the acorn finials on the guard, the circular grip fasteners with raised stars, and the dual fullers on the end portion of the blade. The regulation specified the blade be etched “United States Marines” on a pennant on each side of the blade. Many, especially the earlier examples, used an abbreviated version “U.S. MARINES”, and the owner’s name often replaced the “Unites States Marines” on the scroll on the obverse side. In 1915 the etching pattern was changed to the current version with the “UNITED STATES MARINES” in fancy letters on both sides of the blade, together with additional design elements including the EGA and a US flag.


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Other than these 1915 modifications, the design of the sword and its elements has remained remarkably consistent from 1875 to date. The material used for the grips, however, has changed over the years. The early examples all used genuine ivory, but in the 20th century a number of faux-ivory substitutes began to be used, and these can provide some indication of the age of a particular sword. Its use as an indicator, however, is limited by the extensive overlap in the time-frames in which the different materials were used - genuine ivory was still used at least until the 1950s for some high-grade swords.

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A very nice sword and I drooled over it when it came up. Congratulations. I have one named to a Marine officer who served 1918-1922. He did not go overseas and doesnt have the history your Marine has but the sword is neatlr mint with gorgeous ivory grips. I was happy to pay $800 for mine four years ago so I think you did well. Kevin

I am eagerly collecting Pre-WWII USMC material. Any Marine Corps Span Am era, WWI, Banana Wars, or China Marine related material is especially sought after.

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In a word, OUTSTANDING! It is worth every penny spent and most certainly would be the center piece of any USMC collection. Congrats on a superb addition.


The bended knee is not a tradition of our Corps. (General A. A. Vandegrift, USMC, 5 May 1946)

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A very nice sword and I drooled over it when it came up. Congratulations. I have one named to a Marine officer who served 1918-1922. He did not go overseas and doesnt have the history your Marine has but the sword is neatlr mint with gorgeous ivory grips. I was happy to pay $800 for mine four years ago so I think you did well. Kevin

 

Thanks. I should also have mentioned his sea duty commanding the Marine Guard Detachments on the USS Wisconsin, USS Boston, and USS Oklahoma.

 

Is your named mameluke one with the old-style etching? I'd be surprised someone commissioned in 1918 wouldn't have the new style - maybe a legacy sword.

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Here is my pre-First World War Marine officer sword. This sword belonged to Captain Herbert J. Hirshinger. He was commissioned in January of 1900 and served in the China Relief Expedition he then served in the Philippines, Cuba and was killed in action during the capture of Puerto Plata in Santo Domingo in 1916.

 

 

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Very nice. Thanks. It looks essentially identical to mine, including the font used in etching the name. Is yours marked with a maker and/or retailer's name? The two officers are such close contemporaries, being commissioned only about a month apart, I wouldn't be surprised if they used the same outfitter.

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Kanemono,

 

Here is an extract from the USMC uniform regulation of 1900 dealing with swords:

 

SWORD.
For Brigadier General, Commandant, and all line officers. Ivory mameluke
grip, with two gilt-embossed stars on each side of the same, set on a gilt circular
plate sunk flush with the ivory. Blade rounded on back, with the words
"United States Marines'' in a scroll on each side; length of blade from thirty-one
to thirty-three inches. Scabbard of German silver, gilt hilt, band rings,
and tip, the bands and tip to be embossed.

 

This is the reg which would have been in effect when our swords were new, but it is essentially unchanged from when the mameluke was restored to service with the regulation of 1875. There are several areas in which our swords seem non-compliant.

 

- First, the etching: both our swords use the short form "U. S. Marines" vice "United States Marines", and only have it on one side, the name being substituted for it on the other. Although I have seen an example with the country's name spelled out in full on both sides, our swords seem more the norm than the exception.

 

- Second, the scabbards both seem to be nickel-plated steel, not German silver. I do not believe I have ever seen a mameluke with a German silver scabbard.

 

- The third, and to me most interesting, is that although both our swords are in excellent condition, neither seem to show even a trace of gilt on the brass fittings. It is hard to imagine that if they were originally gilt that the gold would be so totally worn or polished off. The other two deviations from the reg would not have been so blatantly obvious as the lack of gilt. If, as it appears, these swords were made without gilt, was this as universal at the time as the substitution of nickel-plated steel for German silver for the scabbards?

 

Have any forum members had or seen a pre-1915 mameluke with gilt fittings and/or a German silver scabbard? If so, I'd love to hear the details.

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The Horse Soldier has a mameluke from the same timeframe and retailer (http://www.horsesoldier.com/products/edged-weapons/swords/11045).

 

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Note it also shows no sign of gilt on the brass mountings. It looks like Heiberger may have had a lock on supplying swords to newly commissioned Marines at the turn of the century.

 

The Horse Soldier example has some condition issues and is priced at $1295, which may indicate getting mine for $1000 wasn't a bad deal. On the other hand, although they sell a lot of really nice stuff, they are not known for their bargain prices, so I'm still a little leery about what my sword is worth. The main thing, of course, is that I like it and is was worth that much to me, but it would still be nice to know what a fair market value would be.

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Good stuff - both you guys.

Reschenk, I don't know squat about swords, but with the history of that sword's owner and the condition combined IMHO you got a bargain.

Enjoy having it in your collection - I sure would.

 

Art

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"Leave the gun - take the cannoli" - Peter Clemenza

War Is The Only Organized Activity Men Participate In That Women Don't Laugh At

Yes, That Is Me In The Profile Picture Ready To Climb Down the Cargo Net A Long Time Ago In A Place Far Away

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Thanks. I should also have mentioned his sea duty commanding the Marine Guard Detachments on the USS Wisconsin, USS Boston, and USS Oklahoma.

 

Is your named mameluke one with the old-style etching? I'd be surprised someone commissioned in 1918 wouldn't have the new style - maybe a legacy sword.

 

Sorry it took so long....busy week. My sword, once again named to an officer who served 1918-1922, has the newer style United States Marines in the scroll. Etched name is similar in style to the ones shown here in a blank panel higher on the blade. Made (or distributed) by the Army Navy Consortium. Kevin

I am eagerly collecting Pre-WWII USMC material. Any Marine Corps Span Am era, WWI, Banana Wars, or China Marine related material is especially sought after.

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  • 8 months later...

I own the Henry Coston sword that was made by Ames and was discussed a while back. I paid 1k. Has a damage grip, repaired star. The scabbard is nickel silver, not plated. ( Or German silver, or nickel alloy, whatever you wanna call it. I'll try to post some pics of the details this week.

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I remember the Costen sword. It is quite a bit older than the other swords discussed in this thread. They are all from around the turn of the century whereas yours is probably close to the date when the mameluke was reinstated by the Uniform Regulation of 1875. Henry Costen was a serving officer in 1875 and would likely have acquired the new model sword as soon as they became available.

 

These early M1875 mamelukes seem really hard to find in any condition. I have seen more of the old pre-CW M1826 mamelukes for sale than I have seen of the pre-1915 M1875s.

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