Determining the value of one-of-a-kind objects can sometimes require the investigative talents of Sherlock Holmes and the wisdom of Solomon.
Enservio Select was recently asked to provide a retail replacement value for a stolen, 19th century Masonic fraternal sword.
We contacted the insured, who confirmed his great-great-grandfather was indeed a Freemason. Though the insured did not have any images of the claimed sword; he did provide a single photo of a similar sword he had found on the Internet. The insured estimated the value of the sword to be between $15,000 and $30,000.
The photo provided was that of a modern fraternal sword the insured claimed had characteristics similar to those of his own stolen sword. This particular example sold for slightly over $100 from an online retailer that also sells many other modern Masonic fraternal swords retailing from $18-$110.
However, the insured’s sword was alleged to be from the 19th century, not a modern example. The insured also stated the sword was originally owned by his great-great-grandfather. Based on this background from the insured, we made the assumption that the sword was a 19th century example of a Masonic fraternal sword, similar to the one shown in the image provided by the insured, and conducted further in-depth research on the product category. The sword contained a red cross, which was a symbol used widely by the Masonic fraternal order in the 19th century.
The next step was to explore the retail market for 19th century Masonic swords. Antique Masonic swords are often found in the collectible market in places such as estate auctions, live auctions, eBay auctions and antique retail shops. We also consulted with estate auctioneers and with various edged-weapons collectors.
Based on this research, many examples of similar like kind and quality 19th century Masonic swords were found in these markets selling for $300 to $700. More detailed and ornate swords can sell in the high-end antique retail market in the $700 to $1,200 range. We determine the insured’s sword was in fact a detailed ornate 19th century Masonic Knights Templar sword.
Further research revealed that the insured’s estimated value of his sword was far from accurate. Enservio Select concluded that the reasonable vintage retail replacement value of the sword was $1,200; a far cry from the $30,000 estimation.
Unfortunately, in this case, the sword was not a cut above the rest.