Froelich Confederate Swords

A “Dog River” is a sword that bears Confederate manufacturing traits, but the maker is unidentified. A “Kenansviille” refers to a Confederate sword manufactured by The Confederate States Armory in Kenansville, North Carolina. Despite its official sounding name, this facility was not an official CS armory. It was a private manufacturer. The principal owner, Louis Froelich, sold edged weapons the CS government as well as to private clients. His swords are often also called “Froelichs.”

Froelich made enlisted men’s cavalry swords in two forms, a first model and a second model. He also made foot officer’s swords, staff and field officer’s swords and sabre bayonets. The staff and field officer variants garner the highest prices. There are two models. The first has a cast hilt with CSA forming the guard. The second looks somewhat like an 1850 US foot sword with CSA on a ribbon in the guard. Froelichs typically are not marked with any maker’s name. Rather, they are distinct looking swords that are attributed to this maker. Some, but not all, will have parts that bear matching hand-etched Roman numerals.

No CS sword is uncommon. However, the cavalry swords are the most readily found. Prices for Froelichs are fairly high and these swords have kept their value pretty well despite the recession. Beware though, the staff and field swords have been mass reproduced and faked. If you think you have a Froelich, then you need to have it verified and appraised by a reputable dealer - not only for sale purposes, but also for insurance purposes.

Froelich operated only during the civil war and, as I recall, his factory was destroyed in a Union raid before 1865. If you have an authentic Froelich, in my opinion you do not have to have Confederate use provenance for it yo have significant value. If you do have provenance linking a certain soldier or officer to the sword, then its value would be substantially higher.

Hope this helps.

Image of a Kenansville Staff and Field Officer’s Sword from damonmills.com

So... what do you think? Please leave me a comment.

8 Comments:

  • Vale: Are there any ways to easily identify a fake?
  • ADucote: Well, depends upon the skill of the faker. CS swords are a slippery slope. Some fakes are very easy to spot. Some aren’t. I suggest buying as many reference books a you can and studying the text and pictures. Where possible, study originals and learn the subtle details. Study also the reproductions.
    I think that detecting fakes is a game of identifying red flags. One tip off is that genuine CS sword blades are not stamped with a date. A common reproduction is stamped with "1862". If you find a CS sword with that date stamp, red flag. Beware of the too good to be true deal. For example, the original sword depicted above sells in the $7500+ range. If you find one find one offered for substantially less, red flag. Original grip wrap is thin and shows wear. Thick grip wrap is a red flag. Thick shiny brass wire wrap is a red flag. Look closely at the patina (aging) in the sword. Is it even or splotchy? Splotchy patina indicates artificial aging and is a red flag. CS sword makers have gotten a bum wrap. Their products are often described as "crude." Some CS swords are on the crude side. However, some CS makers, especially from New Orleans and Richmond, produced very fine swords. Compare an original to the sword in question. If the original has fine details and the copy is less refined, red flag. If you have the opportunity to hold the sword in question and it feels excessively heavy and the blade is inflexible, red flag. Now don’t go trying to bend the blade, you can tell easily. Reproductions feel like railroad iron. A sword with red flags may not be a fake. It just need more scrutiny. Ask questions.
    I cannot urge anyone interested in collecting CS swords to be careful. By no means is my brief discussion a complete book on the subject. There are all sorts of pitfalls. Half fakes - swords that have an original hilt mate with a reproduction blade (or vice versa) and then artificially aged — are out there. Fake inscriptions applied to original swords to increase value are out there as well. If you want to purchase a CS sword and don’t have the skills or knowledge to protect yourself, then buy only from a reputable dealer. Avoid online auctions, unless the seller is a reputable dealer.
    Finally, these are just my opinions and thoughts garnered from years of study. This is not meant to be absolute guide for anyone to rely upon.
  • Vale: ADucote, thanks! Even if it’s not an absolute guide, you’ve listed a lot of good tips for things to be aware of! If a sword was a "half fake" would there still be some value in the part that was genuine?
  • ADucote: Hmmm. I suppose that a half fake would have some value.
  • Vale: Just out of curiosity, if you had an original blade with a fake hilt and a fake blade with an original hilt, could you join the two original parts together and then sell it as an authentic, although less valuable, sword?
  • ADucote: You could do anything that you want. Whether or it it is fraudulent misrepresentation depends join how you describe the piece. If describe honestly, the I see no problem. If described as a totally original sword, no matter the price, then you are intentionally misrepresenting the piece.
  • Vale: That’s true, thanks for the reply!
  • Tim Sawyer: I have an original of one of these. We have the provenance tracing it back to my GG Grandfather, Maj. William Child, Surgeon of the 5th NH regiment. He was given it by a dying Confederate officer on the field after the battle. My Grandfather attended him on the field as he died and the officer gave him this sword.
    I can’t find any Makers marks on the blade. The only marks I can see are on the edge of the guard (approximately above the "C") reading in roman numerals "XXV"... is this a makers mark? If not, is there any specific place where the mark might be that we should look at more closely (the ricasso?). The blade is in original condition with a patina that I’d rather not alter.
    Any information would be greatly appreciated!
    Thanks.
    Tim Sawyer <email>

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