Masonic Knight Templar Swords

PLEASE NOTE We do not give, nor are we qualified to give, appraisals on your fraternal swords. 

One of the most frequent questions we receive in our email box comes from people trying to learn about Templar swords that they have either purchased at estate sales or inherited from family members who were members of the order.

Many of those asking questions are hoping that they possess a sword from the Middle Ages when the Templars fought in the crusades. They are soon disappointed when they are told that the ornate sword they now possess couldn’t possibly be authentic as the Templar Rule forbade all ornamentation on weapons. Inevitably the sword they are inquiring about is a fraternal Knights Templar sword or “society sword” as they are called among collectors.

The purpose of this page is to explain, not only these fraternal swords but also, the different companies that manufactured them.

Description Of Swords

Pommel: Regardless of manufacturer, the pommel almost always depicts a knight’s head. This does not distinguish the sword as uniquely Templar as other fraternal swords such as the Knight’s of Pythias depict a knight’s head as well.

Grip: The grip on a Templar sword is sometimes black and sometimes ivory. Quite often it will depict the cross and crown emblem of the order as shown in the diagram to the left. Some swords will display a stylized Christian cross while others a triangle and cross. Frequently Templar swords are engraved with the owner’s initials on the grip.

Knuckle Guard: Templar sword knuckle guards typically depict the cross and crown but many of the M. C. Liley and Co. swords show a knight’s head as shown in the diagram to the left.

Blade: The blade of the Templar sword is particularly ornate and will often depict crusader scenes and lily work. Virtually every Templar sword made in the last century and a half will carry the engraved name of its owner.

Sheath: A nickel plated sheath indicates the sword belonged to a Sir Knight, while a gold plated one is that of a Preceptor (Canada) or Commander (United States). Like the blade these sheaths are very ornate and the markings will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

History Of American Sword Manufacturers

Frank Henderson, a prominent citizen in Kalamazoo Michigan and whose home, the Henderson – Royce Castle is a prominent site to this day, began selling and manufacturing swords and regalia in 1850. He remained in the business for nearly a half century until his death in 1899. The company he began would remain active until it was dissolved in 1923.

Initially Henderson sold swords under his own name Frank Henderson and would continue to do so until he formed a partnership with Theron F Giddings in 1871. The new company, Henderson and Giddings Co. was a short lived venture and in 1873, Henderson resumed trade as Frank Henderson.

From this time Henderson began an association with the Ames Sword Company and as an agent distributed their line of fraternal swords and regalia. This relationship continued for two decades at which time, in 1893, he consolidated his affairs with Ames and formed the Henderson Ames Company.

Henderson bought out the E. A. Armstrong Regalia Factory, including all machinery and inventories a year later. After Henderson’s death in 1899 the company continued on for the next twenty-four years when it was purchased and dissolved by The M. C. Lilley and Company.

The M. C. Lilley and Company purchased the Ames Sword Company in 1925 and in the same year change their name to The Lilley Company. The newly acquired equipment was moved from Chicopee MA, to Columbus Ohio.

In 1931 they became the Lilley-Ames Company continued on for another two decades but due to a lack of diversity in their product line began to fail. C. E. Ward bought them out in 1951 and at this time began to manufacture badges.

Chronology Of Major American Sword Manufacturers

With the chronological list below you should be able to get a rough date as to when your sword was made. For example if your sword carries the markings of Henderson Ames, then it was manufactured sometime between 1893 and 1929.

1850 – 1871 – Frank Henderson

1871 – 1873 – Henderson and Giddings

1873 – 1893 – Frank Henderson

1893 – 1923 – Henderson Ames
(Henderson Died In 1899)

1923 – 1925 – The M. C. Lilley and Company

1925 – 1931 – The Lilley Company

1931 – 1951 – Lilley-Ames Company

1951 – 1953 – Lilley-Ames Company
(Badge Maker New Ownership)


  1. It was and is common for Masonic Knights Templar to engrave their names on their sword. We have no information on individual Freemasons. Your best bet would be to contact that group if his Commandery or Preceptory number is on the blade.

  2. I’ve got one that says M.C. Lilley & co.
    Columbus O.
    The name of the owner on the blade looks like Richard B. O’Garro
    Curious as to what CUOOF on the hilt of the sword means.

  3. Is there anyway I can get historical information on a Mason sword that was passed down through my husband’s family? I’m not sure if it belonged to his great-great-grandfather or his great-great-great-grandfather. He lived in Ohio and their last name was Sanners. It’s in very good condition although slightly tarnished. We’ve always kept it hanging on a wall as a sign of respect for the sword. I’m just curious as to the background if I could know what rank he held and for how long he was a member. I’d love to pass the information on to our children and grandchildren. Even if you can’t tell me anything if you could give me information on how I can find out myself that would be great thank you

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  5. My sword was made in Germany, knight of the Templar, very good condition,how can I find more information.

  6. I was told that the sword I found in a couch belonged to a black man who was a Mason.

  7. My Henderson Ames Company sword has the Freemason’s name: Forrest Beauregard Poplin. The grip is ivory with his initials among other decoration. I inherited the item from David Ancil Stovall, my grandfather. Any information on Poplin would be appreciated.

  8. I have a knights templar sword made by Pettibone Bros. and Mfg out of Cincinnati Ohio. However it is stamped “Germany”. Also of note is it has a black handle not ivory. My grandfather found it in the 1950’s in a house he rented and eventually it found its way to me. I am interested in finding out how old it may be and the significance of a black grip vs. ivory. Who makes that decision? Is the Encampment from each state?

  9. Can you give any information on my knights Templar sword that has the name u.f. Bettling on the blade? On the grip it has “be thou faithful unto death I will” above the cross & crown and below it says “give thee a crown of life”

  10. I got a Henderson Ames Co Kalamazoo Michigan knights of templar Sword with the Name JIMMY MILLER and N.W Initial’s on the Grip, Does anyone have any information or Even How Much DoThey Go For??

  11. Trying to figure out the value of my mc Lilley and co sword it says I believe Morace T Whitman. I’ll send contact info to anyone who can help.

  12. G. Y. Pennington on my sword or
    F. B. Pennington
    Due to the script
    The men at the Lodge said it is G. Y. Pennington

  13. Is there any way to track down a Knights Templar Sword from the late 1800s, Minnesota? It was my great grandfather’s and had his name engraved on it. It got lost several decades ago. Is there any way to trace it? Thank you.

  14. To those who are seeking information on a family member who is named on a sword, I was able to get historical information on my father and grandfather from the Grand Lodge of the state they were masons. All Knight Templars must first be Master Masons and a member in good standing in his lodge throughout his membership, just as members in the Scottish Rite and the Shriners. There is no universal list of all masons. Each state grand lodge does maintain records of its members as does the mason’s local lodge. Try the lodge where he lived. Another clue would be if the sword is silver (nickel) or gold. Sir Knights are silver in color. There are various lodge Officer culminating in Commander. Then you can get a gold colored grip and sheath. Another clue is each grand lodge may specify the color of the grip and the style of the cross guard and may also give you a hint of which state the SK was a member of. Good luck.

  15. I got a nickel/silver MC Lilley Templar knight at an estate sale. Sellers did not know anything, but it was passed down in the family of the estate, by the name. These things are not toys, not decorator items. Even though diminuative, they would do the job! Mine was made between 1882 and 1925 according to the company trademark, supposedly. It came with the leather case which needs some work. I am leaning towards earlier as it has a closure of straps and buckles instead of the snap. A Lilley catalog might help date it closer. Always thought these were cool and got one now in very nice condx versus the rusty beat ones you often see. They guessed a price and I got a decent deal. My grip is ivory? with cross and initials.

  16. Hmmm. They are soon disappointed when they are told that the ornate sword they now possess couldn’t possibly be authentic as the Templar Rule forbade all ornamentation on weapons

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  17. It is helpful to understand the history and characteristics of these swords for those who may be interested in collecting or learning more about them. Thank you for sharing this information about Templar swords and American sword manufacturers. shed removal

  18. Wow, so much cool sword history here. I don’t think modern American swords can compete with medieval Templar ones but I’m so glad swords are still being manufactured nonetheless. I was searching for the best swords on Amazon and now I think I know what type of sword I want to get. Thanks.

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