Captain Isaac Hull’s Dress Sword And Engraved Scabbard

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Captain Isaac Hull’s Dress Sword And Engraved Scabbard

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Title:  

Captain Isaac Hull’s Dress Sword And Engraved Scabbard
Date:
c. 1806

Content Description: 

"Thin, elegant and deadly, this sword belonged to Captain Isaac Hull. It is a fine example of a Federal-era American naval officer’s side arm. The eagle pommel, cast in high relief, supports an engraved stirrup guard that terminates in a quillion with a forward-inclined ball. Shield-shaped langets cast with an eagle clutching an anchor in a shield (the same device found on naval buttons of the period) flank the plain, double-edged blade’s ricasso. The ivory grip is wrapped with gilt wire. The original scabbard, now deteriorating, still retains its original throat locket and middle band of gilt brass, along with their suspension rings. The locket bears the inscription “Capt. I. Hull U.S.N.” on one side and a trophy of crossed flags, a shield, a drum, a spear and trumpet on the other.

Blade lengths were frequently customized to fit the height of the wearer. In this case, the 21 5/8-inch long blade confirms that Capt. Hull was a short man. But it is also a handy length for shipboard wear. A longer blade would get tangled between the wearer’s legs, and if wielded in action, could not be swung with ease on a crowded deck. So slim a blade, however, probably never saw combat. Only an imprudent man would trust his life to something so delicate: a single parry from a robust cutlass would shatter the blade at the hilt. The sword is purely ceremonial, a mark of office, a piece of jewelry for a gentleman. Tradition holds that Capt. Hull gave the sword to Capt. David Porter in 1822, after Porter cleared him of charges brought by a disgruntled inferior at the Charlestown Navy Yard. It was a fitting token of respect, for the sword was the physical embodiment of Hull’s honor as a gentleman and an officer in the United States Navy.

The Museum acquired the sword in 2005, thanks to the efforts over 70 donors led by Mr. Ronald Egalka."

Location:
Charlestown Navy Yard Building 22, Boston, Massachusetts, 02129
credits:
Museum Puchase, Commodores Fund, 2061.1-2. The Museum acquired the sword in 2005, thanks to the efforts over 70 donors led by Mr. Ronald Egalka.

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