At Bonhams in San Francisco on June 12, $8000 (£6615) was paid for a typically ornate sword by Tiffany presented to Delos Bennett Sacket, a Mexican War veteran who was appointed Inspector General of the Army of the Potomac in 1861.
This date, together with the names of the six friends who made the gift, were engraved on the gilt scabbard. The sword itself had a 2ft 10in (86cm) blade etched with floral and martial motifs and a gilt-bronze guard with a lion’s head terminal on the quillon and the pommel in the form of an antique helmet and breastplate.
The previous month in Munich, at Hermann Historica (23% buyer’s premium), a substantial €54,000 (£47,370) was paid for a much plainer blade associated with a far more illustrious recipient – George S Patton Junior, commander of the Third Army following the invasion of Normandy.
The sword was presented to him on his promotion to a four-star general on April 14, 1945, and was of a pattern that was introduced to the US Army by the general himself back in 1913, the year after he represented his country in the modern pentathlon at the Olympics.
The Model 1913 cavalry sword thus became known as the Patton Saber and marked a shift from slashing to thrusting as a tactic for mounted troops, hence the double-edged fullered blade.
The example made for presentation to its originator had a solid silver hilt and ivory grips and was inscribed in gilt on both sides of the blade with his name flanked by two sets of four stars to designate his new rank.