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November 6, 2014

A Cutting Edge Collection

By Joel R Kolander

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Rock Island Auction Company is fortunate enough to be entrusted with prized firearms collections at each and every auction. The December 2014 Premiere Firearms auction being no exception, there are no fewer than five outstanding and accomplished collections containing Volcanic rifles, Lugers, experimental and prototype Colts, Lightning & Thunderer revolvers, and one additional collection. In an exciting twist, this collection is not about firearms at all, but about swords. It is the Collection of Major General Theodore Paulson and it is spectacular.

Centering around both U.S. military and German military swords from various eras, the collection is staggering in its breadth and the craftsmanship of its items. There are extravagant presentation pieces, naval swords, gilded sabers, high quality daggers, boot knives, gravity knives, officer’s swords, and several lots containing historical documentation, medals, research, and other militaria on specific servicemen. Here are just a few of the highlights.

Lot 1454: Extraordinary Documented Eickhorn Second Model Luftwaffe General Officer’s Sword, with Attribution and Documents to Luftwaffe Generalleutnant Erich Stein

This stunning sword was discovered by American combat engineer PVT Cecil Brown in a freshly-vacated Nazi officers quarters. Brown took the sword as a trophy along with many other documents belonging to Luftwaffe Generalluetnant Erich Stein – the top commander of the German Air Force! Some of the documents accompanying this stately sword are rather day-to-day, even a ‘late notice’ from Stein’s insurance provider, but the documents, along with the photos also recovered, provide a strong link to the German officer.

The text above reads “In dankbarer Anerkennung” which translates to “In Grateful Appreciation”
The left side of the blade reads “Der Oberbefehlshaber der Luftwaffe” (The Supreme Commander of the Luftwaffe) followed by a facsimile of Herman Goering’s signature.

I’d say finding this sword, its scabbard, and its felt lined case made for a pretty good day for Private Brown. The sword is beautifully etched in a geometric scroll pattern on both sides of the blade and a foot long vine along its spine, interrupted only by the fire blued portion of the blade. Gold highlighted text stands out brilliantly against its royal blue backdrop and complements the gilt brass hilt wonderfully. Shown below, it has been finely engraved with scrolls, floral vines, checkerboards, punch dots, and a silver Luftwaffe eagle on the guard. Gilt wire even binds the cream-colored celluloid grip. Usually, one can only speculate as to whom a sword belonged, and if high quality, postulate that it belonged to someone important. With this sword, no such guess work is required. It was made for someone important and the accompanying documents paint a pretty clear picture for whom.

Lot 1242: Gold Accented American Naval Officer’s Sword with 1841 Regulation Hilt and Scabbard

This sword, while containing designs from different Navy sword regulations, certainly did not suffer its craftsmanship for it. Our catalog description states,

Produced by an unknown smith, the hilt and scabbard conform to the 1841 regulations, the first U.S. Navy sword design to come with an illustration of what the sword was supposed to look like, while the blade appears to be an item from the looser 1813 regulations, which merely called for a vaguely defined “cut and thrust sword, yellow mounted”; possibly from a veteran officer who chose to have his original sword remounted in the 1840’s instead of discarding the weapon.

And with a sword as finely designed as this, one could hardly blame him! Nearly a yard in length, 17 1/2 inches of the blade are niter blued with golden washed vines, fouled anchor on one side, and American eagle on the other. It is a gilt brass hilt decorated with oak leaves, floral themes, and the feathers from the eagle’s head that serves as the pommel. The grip is antique ivory as has been carved in a similar feather pattern as the rest of the grip, some of the “feathers” on the ivory even finishing those that began in metal. Such attention to detail!

The black leather scabbard was also carefully crafted with brass hardware that has been engraved with themes similar to that on the sword. Twelve stars surround the frog stud, another fouled anchor appears next to the lower hook, and the scabbard tip enjoys more of the acorns and leaves.

Together, they are a piece that makes quite a striking impression and would be an excellent addition to any accomplished edged weapons collection.

Lot 3348: Attractive Nazi-Era E. & F. Hoerster “Grosse Degen” Style Shooting Prize Honor Sword with Damascus Pattern Blade, Gilt Accented Presentation Etching with Name, Date and Unit, Engraved Hilt and Included Research

Similar in design to the German “gross degen” (great sword), this presentation sword is inscribed to one “Hptm. Friedrich Wupper” as an “Eherenpreis/fur hervorragende Schiessleistungen 1937” (Honor Prize for excellent shooting performance 1937). It is quite the prize! A hilt of gilt brass, gilt wire wrapping a black celluoid grip, extensive acorn and oak leaf engraving, and a dove’s head pommel are only the beginning. The blade itself is a beautiful, flowing shape, the first 13 1/2 inches of which have been covered with a Damascus pattern, gold accented etching, flowering vines, and ornate text that lists Hptm. Wupper’s name, unit, and the date of the presentation.

More about Wupper is known thanks to tireless work on the part of a previous owner, who corresponded at length with numerous sources in American and Germany. Hauptmann Friedrich Wupper of Rifle Regiment 2 is one Friedrich Carl Wupper born on July 30, 1897. Our official description notes,

Conflicting records of his date of death are due to destruction of Wehrmacht records towards the end of the war, but records point to the Eastern Front, either June 29, 1941, during Operation Barbarossa or December 6, 1942, during the Battle of Stalingrad.

This is a beautiful presentation pre-War Nazi sword to be prized among edged weapon and German military collectors alike!

Other notable swords

This auction has many edged weapons and they’re not all just from one collection. While they do not belong to the Collection of Major General Theodore Paulson, the following swords are certainly worthy of an “honorable mention” in this article on high quality, wonderfully aesthetic swords.

Lot 1148: Peter Knecht Solingen Production Gold and Niter Blue Accented French Presentation Sword with Scabbard Inscribed from the National Guard of France to the Marquis de Lafayette, Hero of the American Revolution

Yes, it is inscribed from the National Guard of France to the Marquis de Lafayette,‌‌Hero of the American Revolution.

Lot 1149: :Presentation Quality Engraved Blue and Gold Washed Blade 1824-Dated Russian 1809 Pattern Cavalry Officer’s Sword with Maker Markings

Lot 1196: Fine American Silver Plated Hilted Eagle Head Infantry Officer Sword with Scabbard

Classic European style with distinctly American themes.

As you can see, there is no shortage of stunning, artistic, superb condition blades in the December 2014 Premiere Firearms Auction. The collections that have come to Rock Island Auction Company are impressive for the quality of their contents as well as their breadth and sheer size. If you would like to see more of these extraordinary edged weapons, please click on either of the links below and prepare to be impressed.

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