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This is truly a unique and exceptional, one of a kind Civil War piece. There is not a single other sword like it known to the collectors at this time. Presented to Captain John Orr Finnie of Philadelphia by a group of friends, it was made specifically for him by the local Philadelphia cutler Sheble & Fisher. It is the only Sheble & Fisher staff and field presentation sword in existence!!! This sword was discussed with the world's foremost authority on Civil War edged weapons, Mr. John Thillmann, the author of two exceptional benchmark books - CIVIL WAR CAVALRY AND ARTILLERY SABERS and the CIVIL WAR ARMY SWORDS. Mr. Thillmann confirmed the uniqueness of this exceptional piece, the only one known at this time. Correspondence from Mr. Thillmann will be included with the sword.
The provenance is most solid, with exhaustive research done in the early 1990s. The binder on Captain Finnie contains over 60 pages of photocopied documents, from both the Union and Confederate sides.
A brief synopsis of the service records of Capt. John Orr Finnie, Pa. 2nd Regiment, Reserve Infantry [31st Pa. Vol.] -
John Orr Finnie enlisted in the Union Army August 1, 1861 at Sandy Hook, MD, for three years or duration of the war. He was mustered into the Pa. 31st as a captain and commanding officer of E. Company, at the age of 33.
His company moved to Langler,VA on Oct.10, 1861, where they saw action at Grinnels Farm on Dec. 6, 1861. Then they advanced on Manassas - March 10-15th, 1862; advanced on Falmouth,VA April 9-10, 1862; took part in "Seven Days Before Richmond" June 25-July 1, 1862; engaged in the Battle of Mechanicsville on June 26, 1862, and also at Gains Mill on June 27th, 1862.
The next 23 days - June 26th to July 17th, 1862, proved to be a very tumultuous experience for Capt. Finnie. He was wounded June 26th, June 27th, and June 30th at Gains Mill. He was also wounded on July 2nd in the battle of Seven Days Before Richmond. The most serious wound occurred on June 27th at Gains Mill, when a musket ball struck his left foot and ankle, rendering him completely incapable. He was captured by the Confederate Army on or about July 2nd, 1862 at Richmond, and became a prisoner of war. While in captivity, he was admitted to a hospital at Savage Station, VA and was paroled by the Confederate Army on July 17th, 1862. He was transferred to a hospital in his hometown of Philadelphia, where he spent 3 months. For the next 17 months he was the Provost Marshall of Philadelphia. He was discharged from the army on July 16th, 1864, a complete invalid, and pensioned as such. Captain Finnie died on July 15th, 1878 in Philadelphia, not yet 50 years of age. He never recovered from his wounds, and was partially paralyzed from the wound he received at the battle of Gains Mill, Va on June 27th, 1862.
Now on to the sword - this is an exceptional work of armorer's art, and as stated above, the only known Sheble & Fisher presentation sword in existence. The Silver-plated hilt retains a generous amount of silver, and is completely intact. The custom-etched blade shows spots of speckled pitting at the forte, which to me looks remarkably like a result of blood caked onto the blade. Blade features the Sheble & Fisher mark at the ricasso, along with the fancy etched designs of military and patriotic nature. A truly one of a kind, museum quality piece that even the most serious and advanced collector would be proud to call his. Along with the remarkable provenance, including the Confederate hospital records, and every Union Army document pertaining to Capt. Finnie, including his death certificate, this is a hall-mark piece of American History.