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Auction Date: May 1, 2016

Lot 3120: Historic Early 19th Century Tailcoat, Waistco

Sold for Historic Early 19th Century Tailcoat, Waistco
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Historic Early 19th Century Tailcoat, Waistcoat, War Trousers, Hat, Dirk, and Eagle Head-Pommel Sword with Documentation Attributed to Hero of Lake Erie Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry
Estimated Price: $60,000 - $110,000
Item Views 233 Bid Activity Average
Serial #Historic Early 19th Century Tailcoat, Waistco ManufacturerNone ModelNone
TypeOther Gauge Catalog Page58
Barrel Finish Grip
Stock ClassOther RatingSee Condition
DescriptionIncluded with the lot is documentation from the 1980s to the 2010s attributing the items in this lot as having been procured from the direct descendants of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry (1785-1819), a hero of the War of 1812 and U.S. Navy icon. One of the documents indicates the items were in possession of Perry's direct descendants until 1989 when the items were sold to Revolutionary War documents collector Stuart Goldman who immediately sold and delivered the items to Charles Sanderson who has retained the items since March 3, 1989. They were stored for many years in the Newport Public Library. Perry was born in Rhode Island and came from a long line of accomplished sailors. He received a midshipman appointment on April 7, 1799, at the age of 13 and served onboard the U.S.S. General Green under his father's command. Less than a year later, he was baptized in naval combat in support of the Haitian Rebellion in part of the U.S. effort against France in the Quasi-War. The rebellion became the first and only slave uprising to successfully lead to the abolition of a slavery and the creation of a free state partially led by former slaves. During the First Barbary War he served initially on the U.S.S. Adams and then commanded the U.S.S. Nautilus during the bombardment and capture of Derna, America's first ground attack on foreign soil. The decisive action of the is the origin of the "shores of Tripoli" line in the Marines' Hymn. In 1809, he commanded his first sea going vessel, the 14 gun schooner U.S.S. Revenge, and was on in command of his younger brother and future commodore, Matthew C. Perry. After his pilot wrecked the Revenge in January 1811, he took a leave of absence, married, and took an extended honeymoon before rejoining the Navy due to the threat of war with England. When the War of 1812 erupted, he first commanded a fleet off of Newport, Virginia, and then was reassigned to the fleet being prepared for Lake Erie. The British Royal Navy at that point held all of the lakes except Lake Huron and was in a prime position to defend the remote border of Canada as well as harass the Americans from the western frontier to New York. Perry commanded a task force consisting of ships already on scene, built on site, and scrounged from other commands and squared off against the British. During the Battle of Lake Erie, despite his flagship, the U.S.S. Lawrence, being disabled, Perry's fleet successfully captured the entire British force of six vessels. This was the first time in history that an entire British naval squadron surrendered, and all of the British vessels were brought to port for repair and prepared for further action. He then employed these ships to hold the lakes and used against the British in nine additional battles including the Invasion of Thames at which Tecumseh was killed. His success was one of the most prominent American victories of the War of 1812, and his victory and others on the Great Lakes proved the Americans were capable of standing-up against the world's dominant naval power. For his actions, Perry was hailed nationwide as a hero, promoted to Captain, and received a Congressional Gold Medal and the Thanks of Congress. After the war, Perry remained in the Navy and eventually rose to the rank of commodore. Much of the final years of his career was embroiled in controversies including a duel fought on the same field that Alexander Hamilton was killed on by Aaron Burr after Perry slapped the man commanding the Marines aboard his ship. His opponent missed, and Perry refused to fire. During an expedition to Venezuela to meet with Simon Bolivar in 1819, Commodore Perry contracted a fatal case of Yellow Fever and died on his 34th birthday. Five of his men also died. Three of his sons went on to serve in the U.S. military during the Mexican-American War era, and his brother, Commodore Matthew C. Perry, famously went on to take the leading role in the opening up of Japan in 1854.The items in the lot are: 1) A fine, gilt finished, eagle head pommel officer's sword, 34 1/2 inches in overall length with a 29 1/4 inch straight, single fuller blade decorated over two-thirds of the length with fine niter blue and gold washed etched decoration in scroll and martial/naval themes and marked "Warranted" above the right ricasso and a punch-dot "2" near the base of the spine. The hilt is finely sculpted and gilt finished. The lanquets are eagles on the languets. The rear quillion is a scroll-pattern. The knuckle guard is rendered as a fluted column with oak leaf and bead wrapping. The grip is ribbed and has a sharply detailed "screaming eagle" pommel. A silver ribbon sword knot hangs from the guard with a bullion-enhanced silver tassel at the end. It has a gilt brass scabbard with dual suspension rings and a symmetrical drag and a 20th century cloth case from the Harding Regalia Company of Boston. The sword is similar to known War of 1812 officer swords including those discussed in "The American Eagle-Pommel Sword: The Early Years-1749-1830." by Mowbray. 2) A bicorn hat with heavy black construction, steel wire inner framework, a small brass anchor pin on one side, and no visible maker's or owner's markings. 3) An early 19th century, double breasted, black, woolen tailcoat with white sleeve lining, burlap backing, a pair of embroidered gold stars on the collar, and black fabric covered buttons. There are no maker's or owner's marks present. 4) A white/buff waistcoat with a felt facing, white cloth wrapped buttons, high collar, and a pair of adjustment ties in the back. 5) White felt drop front trousers with matching fabric covered buttons and a pair of stirrups at the bottom. 6) A pair of white men's boot socks. 7) A 14 5/8 inch long antique naval dirk with a 9 7/8 inch straight, single fuller blade decorated with light floral and martial etching, a gilt disc guard with quillions, gilt octagonal pommel, and a smooth grip. The clothing is appropriate to a man of Perry's build given artwork and sculptures present him as a slight man of average height for the period (short by our standards) and known to be of "fragile constitution."

Condition1) The sword and scabbard are both excellent. The grip shows some cracks and shrinkage, and the knot is frayed and has some lost material. 2) Fair. The material is showing its age, and the wire is visible in some areas. 3) Very good. There are a few minor stains and hints of moth activity. All of the stitching appears solid. 4) Good. It has some staining of the cloth and minor moth damage. 5) As 4. 6) Fair. It has a number of holes, some old repairs, and mild staining. 7) Fair. The blade has been cleaned and has pitting at the tip, brown residue (possibly old protective varnish) near the guard, and some fading of the markings. The hilt retains about half of the gilt finish. One quillion is bent, and the other is snapped off and has evidence of an old, failed repair. The grip shows a fine old color with some age cracking. This is an incredible set of vintage American Navy artifacts connected to one of the most legendary names in world naval history and one of the most prominent and important figures of the War of 1812.
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