Lot #1267
Lot #1269

Lot 1268: U.S. Consul George William Gordon's W.H. Horstmann & Co. Sword

Historic Antebellum Era Gilt W.H. Horstmann & Co. Patriotic Motif Sword and Scabbard Inscribed to Anti-Slavery U.S. Consul George William Gordon

Auction Date: December 10, 2022

Lot 1268: U.S. Consul George William Gordon's W.H. Horstmann & Co. Sword

Historic Antebellum Era Gilt W.H. Horstmann & Co. Patriotic Motif Sword and Scabbard Inscribed to Anti-Slavery U.S. Consul George William Gordon

Auction Date: December 10, 2022

Estimated Price: $5,000 - $8,000

Historic Antebellum Era Gilt W.H. Horstmann & Co. Patriotic Motif Sword and Scabbard Inscribed to Anti-Slavery U.S. Consul George William Gordon

Manufacturer: None
Model: None
Type: Other
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Item Views: 297
Catalog Page: 246
Class: Other
Description:

The reverse folding languet is inscribed "Geo. Wm. Gordon/United States, Consul." George William Gordon (1801-1877) served as U.S. Consul to Brazil from 1843 to 1846. "The New-England Genealogical Register" from 1878, his Boston Globe obituary from 1877, and the included printed copy of the pamphlet "The Record of George Wm. Gordon." printed by the State Committee of the National American Party identify Gordon as born in Exeter, New Hampshire. He was the valedictorian of the class of 1819 at the Phillips Exeter Academy. He was a prominent merchant in Boston starting in the 1830s and was a member of the city council. He was also postmaster of Boston in 1841-1843. From 1843 to 1846, he was U.S. consul for Brazil and stationed in Rio de Janeiro. After returning to Boston, he continued to work as a merchant and was appointed postmaster again in 1850-1853. In 1856, he ran for governor of Massachusetts as the American Party candidate and placed third. The pamphlet noted above is in the Library of Congress and was printed to promote his campaign for governor and focuses heavily on his work as U.S. Consul in Brazil and his work against the Atlantic slave trade and American ships participating in the trade. Importation of slaves into the U.S. had been illegal since 1808 and became a capital offense in 1820, but American slave traders and ships mainly based out of the northeast continued to bring loads of slaves to Brazil which was by far the biggest market for African slaves even before the U.S. and United Kingdom outlawed the trade. Per "The Record," Gordon sent four captains and their officers of American ships involved in the trade to the U.S. for trial for illegally engaging in the international slave trade, but, as was typical in the period, rather than severe punishment or death, the men involved received a slap on the wrist if convicted at all. In fact, only one U.S. citizen was ever hung for involvement in the slave trade, Nathaniel Gordon (ironic but unrelated) in 1862. Others involved in the trade nonetheless worked to elude Gordon rather than risk arrest and confiscation of their cargo and ships, and Gordon did secure the freedom of some of the slaves brought over during his fairly brief time as consul and also purchased and promptly manumitted a woman and child who he then employed. In 1856-1873, he was an agent for the Liverpool & London and Globe Insurance Company in New England, and he was also the proprietor of the Berkshire Quartz Sand Mines starting in 1858. He is buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The sword is patterned after the Model 1835 U.S. Revenue Marine Officers sword upgraded by Horstmann with mother of pearl scales and has a 29 3/4 inch straight blade with floral and classical martial motifs including an anchor on the reverse side, a gilt brass hilt with folding languets (one in the shape of a spread wing patriotic bald eagle holding a stars and stripes shield and the other an oval with the inscription noted above), mainly cast floral patterns, patriotic shields on the pommel, and mother of pearl grip scales. The scabbard is black leather with gilt brass fittings engraved with floral designs on the drag and an eagle and shield motif on the mouth piece which has "W.H. HORSTMANN/& CO./NEW YORK." on the reverse.

Rating Definition:

Very fine with mostly bright blade with distinct etching and minor age related staining, bright hilt with strong original gilt finish, light scratches and flaking on the pearl scales, mostly dark original leather on the scabbard body showing spots of mild wear, and general minor marks and scratches throughout. This is a very attractive sword inscribed for an interesting anti-slavery U.S. official in the antebellum era.



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