The Sword and the American Diplomat

The sword has long been a part of the formal wear for diplomats from all over the world. Unlike a sword used for military purposes, the diplomat had no provision for the type or sword he could carry, so it was quite common to find a wide range of swords at these ambassadors. For the sake of simplicity and tradition, early American diplomats generally made a small sword modern after a late 18th or early 19th century design. The weapon's knife would be somewhere between 36-38 inches. It is generally considered that the sword of the early diplomat falls into one of two categories.

1830-1850: The sword that was most prominent to the American diplomat during this time presented a straight blade that narrowed evenly on both sides to a good point. The leaf was triangular in shape, with each of the three sides hollow. The lower part of the leaf was covered with various decorative elements, including military emblems and floral designs. This sword also contained a pommel that was finely decorated, with two female heads and two lion heads. Flow around these heads was more floral and wreath. The hilt contained gilt brass, and was surrounded by a knock-bow.

1850-1865: The sword most prominent for the US diplomat during this time was quite similar to the sword discussed above, but with noticeable difference in the hilt. This sword had several functions in common with its predecessor, including a triangular blade etched with military designs. An important note about this sword, however, was that the etching on the blade was far inferior to the previous design. Pommel was again ornately decorated, this time with roll design. The counterbalance of this sword was emblazoned with a distinct American eagle and star design, surrounded by a floral pattern.

The sword in this period also had small variations within this time frame; including a model that had a leaf that is not blued, as both the other examples are. The grips of the latter creation are also decorated in different ways, as well as pommel. The impressive etched eagle and star emblem are missing from this sword and replaced with less spectacular floral and wreath work.

American diplomats and foreign addicts have adorned a sword in their formal regals for many generations, and this tradition continues to this day. Although it is generally only a formal ceremony, military officials, high-ranking police officers and officials continue to carry a sword as a symbol of strength, honor and tradition.