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    EXCEEDINGLY RARE CONFEDERATE DOLPHIN HEAD NAVAL OFFICER'S SWORD AND SCABBARD OF COMMANDER WILLIAM LEWIS MAURY C.S.S. GEORGIA. accompanied by: the original oil cloth storage case; a carte de visite of Maury in Confederate naval officer's uniform wearing the sword; his original Confederate commission as a first lieutenant; his personal copy of William Fontaine Maury's Explanations And Sailing Directions...; and a manuscript letter of safe passage issued by Brazil to Maury and the C.S.S. Georgia dated May 13, 1863 to operate off the coast of South America..

    The sword is inscribed in period script "Maury" on the inside of the knuckle bow. William Lewis Maury was born in 1813 in Caroline County Virginia and appointed acting midshipman in the United States Navy in 1829. He passed midshipman in 1835. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1841 and accompanied Commodore Matthew C. Perry, as part of the East India Squadron, on Perry's Japan Expedition. Maury commanding the barques Caprice and Mississippi. Maury returned home in 1854 and served on the Navy Retirement Board in 1855. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Maury resigned his commission and joined the fledgling Confederate Navy. Maury was commissioned a first lieutenant in the Confederate Navy on June 10, 1861. He was promoted commander on February 17, 1863. He commanded the C.S.S. Tuscaloosa (1861-1862) and the C.S.S. Georgia (1863 - 1864). He also served a brief stint commanding the C.S.S. North Carolina before exiting the service on sick leave. The C.S.S. Georgia was purchased in England through the agency of his famous cousin Matthew Fontaine Maury and was active in the Atlantic capturing numerous prizes. The Georgia was eventually captured off the coast of Lisbon Portugal after she had been sold to an English merchant and was no longer in Confederate service.

    The sword was acquired form a direct lineal descendant of William Lewis Maury by Donald Tharpe. The exquisitely executed brass guard incorporates deeply cast relief motifs of tobacco and cotton plants extending from the knuckle bow into the basket with the insignia of the Confederate States Navy, a fouled anchor on crossed cannons in the center, all on a stippled background. The dolphin head pommel is beautifully detailed with hand engraved motif of scales and stippling on the backstrap. The reverse counter guard folds down onto a pin on the back of the top scabbard mount. White fish skin grip with spring like brass wire bordered with single strand brass wire wrap. Retains the original buff leather washer. The 29 5/8" blade is deeply etched on the obverse with cotton and tobacco plants, floral/scroll motifs and the 1st National Confederate Flag on an anchor in the center. The ricasso is etched with a six pointed star with a small brass medallion inset in the center displaying the word "Proof". The reverse of the blade also depicts cotton and tobacco plants, floral/scroll work and the Confederate States Navy insignia, identical to that on the guard, in the center. The ricasso is etched "Firmin & Sons/153/Strand/& 13/Conduit St./London". All etching is highlighted with exquisite hand engraved details. Brass mounted black leather scabbard. Ring mounts cast in the form of figure eight rope knots and beautifully finished as is the drag which incorporates intertwined serpents. The bottom mount is 8 ½" long. Brass carrying rings. The original storage case (the only example extant that we are aware of) is padded with an oil cloth exterior and chamois lining. The flap closes with a Japanned button and string ties, fits the sword perfectly. The carte de visite of Maury bears the backmark of Maison Rideau in Cherbourg (France) and is inscribed in period ink script on the verso "from Uncle Lewis Maury sent to me in Paris, 1863".

    Maury's personal copy of Matthew Fontaine Maury's monumental work, Explanations And Sailing Directions To Accompany The Wind and Current Charts published in 1855 is signed in ink script by Maury on the front leaf. Beautiful custom gilt decorated full leather binding. With gilt edged pages. 9 3/4" X 11 ½" and 2 ½" thick with 869 pp. and 23 plates/maps. A very rare book.

    Only a handful of these beautiful swords are known to exist with but a few having the historical significance, impeccable provenance, and superb condition of this magnificent specimen.

    Provenance: The Tharpe Collection of American Military History

    Exhibited: The Liberty Heritage Society Museum

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    December, 2007
    1st Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 12,467

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