Military Dress Sword Owned by Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben Maker: John Bennett I (British, 1708–1774)


American Decorative Arts

Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben rests his hand upon this London-made sword in the portrait by Ralph Earl on view nearby. Steuben’s will proclaimed: "Sufficient reasons having determined me to exclude my relatives in Europe from any participation in my estate in America, and to adopt my friends and former aides-de-camp, Benjamin Walker and William North as my children. . . . To the said William North I bequeath my silver-hilted sword, and the gold box given me by the city of New York." The sword and box remained in North’s family until 1929 when they they were put up for auction and acquired by the collector, Francis P. Garvan, who then donated them to the Yale University Art Gallery.


Steel, gilt silver, leather


Sword: 4 1/4 × 3 × 40 1/2 in. (10.8 × 7.6 × 102.9 cm)
Scabbard: 1 5/8 × 1 × 33 1/2 in. (4.1 × 2.5 × 85.1 cm)

Credit Line

Mabel Brady Garvan Collection

Accession Number



18th century


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



Supposedly presented to Baron von Steuben by Congress in 1784. Bequeathed in 1794 to William North (1755–1836), New York; inherited by his son William Augustus Steuben North (1794–1845) and Margaret Bridge North (1802–1882), New York; inherited by their daughter Mary Catharine North Weston (1822–1882) and Daniel Cony Weston (1815–1903), New York; inherited by thier daughter Mary North Weston Austin (1851–1916) and Francis B. Austin (1847–1927), Summit, N.J.; inherited by their son William Morris Austin (1876–1938), Elizabeth, N.J.; [American Art Association, New York, 30 January 1929, lot 175]; purchased by Francis P. Garvan (1875–1937), New York; donated to Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 1930
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type



"I B [separated with a pellet] [lion passant] [crowned leopard's head, largely illegible] [Gothic H, largely illegible]" stamped along upper edge of knuckle guard; "IR [or IQ]" under a crown engraved on both sides of the blade

Technical metadata and APIs


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