Measuring 35 1/2 inches overall with a 29 1/2 inch curved double fuller blade, which bears the gold-enhanced makers signature "P. Knecht a Solingen" on the flat spine. A 13 inch panel of niter blue is also running up the spine, as well as a 14 3/4 inch niter blue panel on each side, terminating in fine scroll designs and accented with gold highlighted martial engraving and etched floral vine decoration. The right panel includes a gold washed rooster atop a banner engraved "Liberte" (Liberty) between a pair of etched panels marked "Garde" and "Nationale" reading from ricasso to tip. The hilt is gilt brass with fine sculpted floral and scroll designs, feathered 1-branch guard, a wire wrapped leather grip and a laurel wreath engraved phrygian helmet pommel. The scabbard is black leather with gilt brass fittings and the reverse face of the throat bearing the inscription "La Garde Nationale/de Moulins/au General Lafayette/bienfaiteur de la liberte" (The National Guard/of Moulins/to General Lafayette/ Benefactor of Liberty) above and below the suspension band. Born in 1757, Lafayette (full name Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier de Lafayette, Marquis de Lafayette) was a young aristocrat and French military officer when he learned of the American Revolution. Driven by a mixture of republican ideals and an opportunity to get back at the British for his father's death in the Seven Years War, Lafayette paid his own way to the States in direct opposition to orders from his superiors in order to join the fight. Shortly after arriving, he was introduced to General George Washington, who would take the young man onto his staff. During his service in the States, he took a bullet to the leg, wintered in Valley Forge, was selected to lead an invasion of Canada in wintertime (which he would quite wisely abort), campaigned successfully for an increased French commitment to the Revolution, and finally participated in the Siege of Yorktown, the final land battle of the Revolution. Upon returning to France, Lafayette continued to assist the Americans, serving as an advisor to multiple American ambassadors and using his Paris home as an unofficial headquarters for American diplomats, including Benjamin Franklin and John Adams. He became more directly involved in French politics, and as a member of the Estates General Lafayette, worked with Thomas Jefferson to draft the first copy of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, a critical document for both the French Revolution and the ideal of universal human rights. The day after the Storming of the Bastille, Lafayette was tapped to be Commander-in-Chief of the National Guard of France, the sum total of all available urban militia units in the nation, where he attempted to serve as a moderating force within the revolution. Later, he rejected an offer of employment from Napoleon and, during the Revolution of 1830, turned down an offer to be dictator of France. Upon his death in 1834, he was buried in France under soil taken from Bunker Hill sprinkled by his firstborn son Georges Washington de Lafayette.
Fine. Some shallow pitting is present on the blade, concentrated on the tip, with over 85% of the original niter blue and gold finish. A fine aged patina is present on the hilt with some darker spots around the pommel and quillion, about 25% of the original gold in the protected areas, some play in the wire and light handling marks overall. The leather shows scuffing and cracks appropriate to age while still remaining relatively supple, and the fittings show a few dents and scuffs. A prime example of the Solingen bladesmith's art, inscribed to a key figure in the military and political history of both America in particular and western civilization as a whole.
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