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Insights and Artifacts
Summer 2006 Courier

Light Calvary Saber of John Myers

Light Calvary Saber of John Myers details of ornament on the blade


Two-thirds of the blade on both sides is etched with neoclassical motifs that rival the architectural ornament of the Moses Myers House itself. They include acanthus leaves, bell flowers, trophies of arms, entwined snakes, an American eagle, and allegorical figures. From left to right moving down the blade: an American eagle with the American shield suspended from a ribbon in its beak – the motto “E PLURIBUS UNUM” inscribed on the ribbon; an allegorical figure of fortitude (one of the four cardinal virtues) represented as a woman leaning against a column with lion at its base – the column a reference to Sampson bringing down the columns of the temple and the lion a symbol of courage and strength; and a trophy of arms with flags, drums, and weapons including a quiver of arrows and a cannon barrel.

On the other side of the blade is an allegorical figure of America as an Indian princess which was standard in 17th- and 18th-century representations of the “four continents.” Standing over a vanquished foe (a severed human head was used on grizzlier versions), she holds a bow and has a quiver of arrows on her back. In back of her is an alligator (the head appears to the right), which was seen as a characteristic American animal.

As an infantry officer, John Myers carried a light cavalry saber.




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