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and the United States Marines
by Stanley B. Smullen

FOR YEARS, the distinctive swords covered in this article have variously been identified as “infantry hangers,” “mounted or foot artillery swords” and “non-commissioned officers swords.” These non-specific labels have resulted in confusion about their true identification and dating. This article will demonstrate that these swords have an association with the United States Marines and will illustrate and describe the known types.

The reason why we can now tie these swords to the Marines is because of a stroke of good luck. A number of years ago, noted antique arms author Norman Flayderman acquired some papers and work drawings of the Horstmann Company of Philadelphia — one of the foremost makers of American swords during the 19th century. These papers included drawings
of enlistedmen’s swords, dated Sept. 1851, which show sword types labeled “Marine Musician,” “Marine Music Boy” and “Marine Sergeant Sword.” What makes this especially exciting is that groups of swords survive today that conform quite closely to the types illustrated in those drawings.

A fourth drawing, also dated 1851 and labeled “Marine Officer,” was also included. And sure enough, the “Marine Officer” sword illustrated in this drawing is quite similar to the pattern presently in use by the Marine Corps. It is not known what motivated the production of these drawings, who did them or why they are identified as “Marine.” Many of the swords that we have found conforming to these patterns were clearly made well before 1851. So we have a bit of an enigma on our hands. But regardless of whatever questions we may have about the original intent of the drawings, they clearly indicate the actual use (or, at the very least, the consideration) of these patterns by the United States Marines. Perhaps the drawings are illustrating a pattern that had already been in use by the Marines for quite some time...or maybe the Marines were thinking about standardizing upon a well-established pattern of sword with a long service history...we just don’t know. Without swords of these patterns having firm Marine provenance, there is a limit to how much we can hope to learn.

There are, however, some tempting hints. In McClellan’s Uniforms of the American Marines 1775–1929 (p. 62), Sergeants and Music’s swords are discussed but not described...( for full article with photos).

I'm Sorry Your Furniture is Dead
By Les Beyer, Website Editor

I'm sorry, your furniture is dead.

I don't know who came up with the idea that any product "helps feed the wood and brings your furniture back to life". Maybe it was the Johnson's Wax people, perhaps Homer Formby, I can remember the TV ads but not the product. Wow, that one line was a marketing bonanza and probably convinced the American public to buy more goofy stuff than Billy Mays. Imagine if that were true. "Yeah, my coffee table came back to life, grew two feet taller and drops leaves all over the carpet every autumn".

Wooden furniture is dead. More correctly, the wood in your furniture is dead. It died where it was born, in the woods. Don't grieve for the tree. It had a good life and its ancestors live on today.

Only after a lengthy drying process is the wood from that tree made into furniture (keep in mind wood never loses it's ability to absorb and release some moisture). Then some type of finish is put on the wood. Many people think that the finish is there to make the wood more beautiful. Well it does, but that is a secondary benefit. The main purpose is to slow the effect of seasonal changes. High humidity and heat in the summer, low humidity and cold in the winter (yeah, I figured THAT out all by myself).

When furniture begins to look dull and dry it's because something has happened to the finish.

  • The finish has begun to deteriorate, cracking or checking maybe flaking off in spots.
    1. Call in a professional or try one of those "finish rejuvenators".
    2. If you have some previous experience fixing this type of problem, you already know what to do.
  • General wear & tear. Minor scrapes and scratches, little flea bites and dings. {Oh no! My furniture needs feeding!}

Your furniture doesn't need feeding. It needs a bit of cleaning and polishing. Here's where I see people get into trouble. Back in the days when I was doing in-home furniture restoration I ran across a lot of greasy, sticky furniture which occasionally smelled rotten. I can recall one home where the furniture was festooned with pet hair which caused my (seldom comical) driver/helper, Big Jake, to comment, "uhhh, is dat why dey call it FUR-niture?".

Please do not use butter, lard, mayonnaise, olive oil or vegetable oil as a furniture polish. These can, and often do, go rancid, smell awful and get very sticky... unless you want Big Jake to come over and make an embarrassing, yet funny, comment to you. (don't worry, I suspect he's in prison yet again)

Lemon Oil is okay, if you're a rich antiques dealer... I'll wait for the laughter to subside. Lemon Oil is nothing but Mineral Oil with just enough Lemon Oil added to make it smell nice. I was told this, in confidence, by a guy who actually makes the stuff so, don't tell him I told you. Mineral Oil is cheap and found in any drug store. So, if you'd like to use a laxative as a furniture polish, go for it.

Briwax is very good as a cleaner/wax. Goddard's too. I like most Old English products. For a quick dust and sprucing up even Pledge, or Behold is fine but these are not as protective as the paste waxes.
Most BCADA members who deal in furniture already have their own, tried and true, favorites. You'll get no argument from me, as long as it works. My concern is with the "non-professional" buyers of antique furniture.

Please, customers, don't use food products as furniture polish. If you can't find the items I've mentioned above or simply aren't sure what to do, feel free to contact a Bucks County Antiques Dealers Association member, who is a dealer in furniture. They will likely be able to assist you but none will be able to bring your furniture back to life.

What is a Windsor Chair?
By Les Beyer, Website Editor

The chairs above are not Windsors. Why not? The quickest way to determine a Windsor chair is to look at the legs...especially the back legs.

Notice on the chairs above how the back leg runs all the way up, beyond the seat rail and actually becomes the back support? From Wainscot style, to Chippendale style to Federal style... it's not a Windsor chair if the back legs support the back rest in some way.

Now look at the difference in the chairs below.

Being a Windsor chair has nothing to do with spindles or arm rests. In a true Windsor style chair the legs support only the seat. Back rests, arm rests are all separate parts which are also connected to the seat.

Additionally true Windsor chair (at least antique ones) were never upholstered. Yes, it may have an added cushion, or someone in the 1950's tried to make it look more modern by nailing upholstry over the seat, but it wasn't there from the start.

It's just that simple.

Dear B.C.A.D.A. Members and Readers
By Les Beyer, Website Editor

Most of us, I think, will agree the antiques business has changed in the past 10 years, 20 years or 40 years depending on your perspective. Many of us are trying different things in an effort to keep business fluid.

Some have stopped traveling to distant shows. Others are now traveling to distant shows.
Some have decided to try selling in an antiques mall, or on the internet, in addition to their regular business.

Still others are trying antiques shows for the first time and/or trying shows they never did before.
Some of us are branching out into merchandise which we never thought we'd sell.

Never did I think I'd be purchasing nice little pieces of glass and china. No, I'll never become exclusively a glass and china dealer, I'm a furniture guy and Ginny is knowledgeable about textiles and associated implements. So these are tentative steps for us. We may continue on this course, maybe not, but I don't think we're alone in trying new things.

Over the next several months I intend to post articles which may be helpful to other members who are also branching out, and to nonmembers (as in "potential customer") readers alike.

It's my hope that some of you will offer even the most basic tips on their area of experience. I'm not suggesting you give away the years of knowledge you possess but, simply, information you would offer a browsing customer. "A really nice goat cart will have (this) and (that). Don't ever buy a goat cart that is missing its (thinger). Don't wash your goat cart with (red) because (yellow) won't damage the (whatever)". Just provide basic information.

If you're unsure how to write such a thing, I'll be happy to help. Just send me words, like the goat cart example above. Maybe come over and talk to me at a show. I'll take your basic information and paste it together into an article and present it to you for approval. If you like it, we're done, and I'll send it to Sue for publication.

I'm proud to be a member of the Bucks County Antiques Dealers Association and I hope to help the organization to gain a presence on the internet.

Collecting George Washington
by Bill D'Anjolell

People always ask me what kinds of items are selling in the antiques business. There are various items selling to collectors, gift buyers, and the occasional antique purchasers. One of the items I sell currently is George Washington memorabilia. George is still the most popular president, ever. He is the father of our country, leader of our first army, and our beloved first president. He did not, however, chop down a cherry tree. This folklore myth helped teach young students to never tell a lie.

Today, George is selling better than ever. This includes not only real autograph signed personal letters, that are very expensive but even more so - those much less expensive treasures.

These items with his picture, name or likeness range from the 19th century to the early 20th century including lithographs and paintings of George with or without Martha, military, police department, fire department, and political ribbons. Flags, banners, quilts, and other textiles including re-election posters of other politicians that include Washington’s face sterling or silver-plate utensils, silverware, souvenir spoons, and jewelry are popular. Glass bottles, decanters, and tumblers; ceramic mugs, figurines, souvenir plates, vases, andirons, metal urns, and clocks are desirable.

Numismatists have coveted the new Washington quarters with the flipside being all of the 50 states, five different quarters per year, dating from 1999 to 2008. These are popular among coin collectors in proof sets, as well as, uncirculated editions.

Most major ceramic manufacturers created merchandise with George Washington’s picture but they vary in price. For example, a 1910 Rowland and Marsellus English Staffordshire ten inch souvenir plate depicting Washington crossing the Delaware will sell for $100. However, a 1920 Salem China company ten inch George Washington souvenir plate will sell for $10. It’s not the ten year difference in age that makes the price vary between the two, but rather the quality and beauty by the earlier English company that makes it more superior.

Differences in art for example, a 19th century small framed silhouette of George Washington can cost $300, while a much larger lithograph of George’s face, circa 1932, may only cost $100. In this case, the difference in value is the rarity of the silhouette.

The year 1932 was big for George because it was the 200th anniversary of his birth year. Many companies made souvenir items in praise of George. It was also the first year of the U.S. Washington quarter.

True collectors of George Washington items tend to gravitate to the much older items. However, I have found that Interior Designers, who are employed by owners of country-style homes, inns, or restaurants, could care less about age but rather the condition, the size, and the color are the most important criteria for their project.

If George Washington were alive today, I think he would be most flattered and humbled by this decorating and collecting phenomena.

Bill D’Anjolell
Imagine Antiques and Appraisals

Newtown, PA
Membership Chair, Bucks County Antiques Dealers Association


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