Swords and swordmaking are not fully appreciated today because both are antiquated objects and trades. But, during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, both were important for several reasons to different people. For the civilian, a sword represented their social standing in society. For an officer, the sword represented both social standing and rank, but it also served him as a means of defending himself - and his honor - during a battle or a duel. Lastly, for the common soldier or sailor, the sword represented the last means of defense during close quarters combat. But, by the end of the eighteenth century, advances in bayonet technology forced the sword from all three societal circles.

This exhibit demonstrates that not all swords are the same. Although the international sword market mass produced swords for civilian and military use, owners took the liberty to personalize their sword. The shapes, sizes, and components are wonderfully diverse. The included swords also illustrate, based on the purpose of the sword, the economic component to the consumer sword market; officers and enlisted men did not carry the same type of sword into battle.

*All swords included were manufactured during the seventeenth or eighteenth centuries and many were used in during the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783). Their countries of origin are many, including British North America/United States, Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, and Germany.

**Exhibit, Section, and Item descriptions are all derived from two sources:

Neumann, George C. The History of Weapons of the American Revolution. New York: Bonanza Books, 1967.

Neumann, George C. Swords and Blades of the American Revolution. Harrisburg: Stackpole Books, 1973.


Valley Forge National Historical Park