The American Civil War had just broke out and both the North and the South were in desperate need of weapons.
As thousands of young men and boys answered their patriotic call, both sides found themselves unprepared to adequately equip them for battle.
With a strong industrial advantage the North needed time to produce arms, but they needed more tools of war now.
The European arms supply was ready for the demand though and both the North and South earnestly began purchasing weapons from European producers.
Numerous weapons were secured from Germany, France, Austria, and England. And American companies were contracted to begin production as well.
These American companies began ramping up production, and some of them went to Europe to secure weapons to be brought back for sale to the US government.
Tiffany & Company Swords
Founded in France by Charles L. Tiffany, the Tiffany Company was already well known for the production of fine jewelry by the onset of the Civil War.
Tiffany produced the best presentation swords in the world. Their swords offered fine, handcrafted gold and silver hilts with elegant engraving and etchings.
Tiffany started producing presentation swords with blades secured from other cutlers. The most prominent being Ames and Collins.
By 1861 the US federal government began purchasing arms on the open market. They were able to secure weapons more quickly by cutting out the need for third party agents.
Because there are no known records showing a formal contract between the US and Tiffany, swords were likely purchased on an as needed basis through the U.S. Ordinance Department.
While Tiffany produced several different types of swords for the US at the time of the Civil War, their Cavalry saber was by far the most widely produced.
The vast majority of Tiffany swords were brought to the US in 1861 and 1862.
The Model 1860 Light Cavalry Saber was already being produced by a number of different manufacturers by 1861. But the supply of these sabers could not keep up with demand so the US began securing Tiffany’s design at $4.50 each.
There is question still to how these swords were crafted. While many believe that Tiffany imported their blades and then hilted their swords here, it is most likely that they imported already completed swords, scabbard and all.
Types Of Tiffany Cavalry Swords
There are two types of sabers produced by Tiffany. The Type I and the Type II.
There are no records indicating how many of each type were produced and sold to the US but there are believed to be over 10,000 in total.
Type I Tiffany Saber
This sword model offered a very slight curve to the blade. It is single edged and measures 35.5″ long. The hilt is quite similar to the Model 1833 Dragoon Sabre with a half basket guard. The guard offers two branches connected to the knuckle bow.
It came with a wooden grip covered with black leather and twisted wire. The total length of this saber is 40.5″ and the majority are marked “TC” with a five pointed star on the blade. Marked near the hilt you will usually find “R.M & S.B.”
It came with a metal scabbard with two suspension rings.
Type II Tiffany Saber
The Type II Tiffany Saber’s design is strikingly similar to the Model 1840 Heavy Dragoon Saber but has an iron guard instead of the Dragoon’s brass. It is single edged with a 36″ curved blade.
The guard has a half basket hilt with two branches and knuckle bow. The Type II also offers a wood grip covered in black leather wound with twisted wire.
You will find a two line mark of Tiffany & Co. on the first with New York on the second line. On the other side of the blade you will find P.D.L marked. This is the trademark of Solingen, Germany maker Paul D. Luneschloss.
The total length of the Type II is 41.5″ and it comes with a metal scabbard with two suspension rings.
It appears that the US ceased purchasing Tiffany Sabers after January of 1863. Tiffany Cavalry Sabers are far harder to find than Model 1860 Light Cavalry Sabers. If you have one please drop me a line with photos.