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    The Baron Who Dressed Like Liberace

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    Guest Rick Research

    This is the story of yet another sword in that local collection. Typical of German blades found at yard sales, it links Queen Victoria's incestuous grandchildren, teenaged boys in frilly shirts with ribboned shorts and buckled slippers, a mysterious London bride, the death of Empires and a heartbroken General, Montana dentists, and underage matrimony in Roaring '20s New York City. There is also a link (by marriage! :shame: ) to very local cousins (of course) of Yrs Truly--but that IS a bit off track. :rolleyes:

    Behold the crest of the Westphalian Freiherrn von Rombergs:

    who are no more, no more!!!

    Yes folks, this is another tale of woe and horror, of the Old World ending in the New.

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    Guest Rick Research

    This was a presentation gift from the Auld Queen's incestuous grandchildren, a Royal Gift

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    Guest Rick Research

    The gold and red knot is certainly not "correct" for a Prussian arme blanche, but appears to have always been on there-- perhaps a mark of having been a titled serving boy at the table of the Ruling House?

    Presented to Portep?ef?hnrich Freiherr von Romberg of Grenadier Regiment "King Frederick William IV" (1st Pomeranian) Number 2 for service as a PAGE 1895-96 to Ir?ne, Princess Heinrich of Prussia...

    for wearing puffy sleeved doublets with frilly lace, sateen knee breeches tied at the knees with ribbons, 18th century silk stockings, and buckled Peter Pan shoes... while being exposed to the higher social graces of the Dynasty's table manners.

    Princess Ir?ne Marie von Hessen-Darmstadt (1866-1953) married (eewwww) her first cousin the nautical Prince Heinrich von Preussen (1862-1929) in 1888. (which made their children not only second cousins to their siblings but to themselves--which gets awkward!!!) SHE was the daughter of Auld Queen Vickie's daughter, Princess Alice of Saxe-Coburg (1843-1878) who married Grand-Duke Ludwig IV von Hessen-Darmstadt (1837-1892). HE, of course, was Kaiser Billy's baby brother, son of the Auld Queen's daughter Victoria, Princess of Saxe-Coburg and Empress of Germany (1840-1901) and the ill-starred Emperor Friedrich III von Hohenzollern (1831-1888).

    It is a plain enough almost as issued sword, barring the personalized panel. Cadets in silly clothes came and went, and would certainly acquire OTHER swords, so why spend a RM extra on a token of Royal thanks for fish served warm and wine not slopped?

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    Guest Rick Research

    :Cat-Scratch: Except very young Maximilian, Baron Romberg never did tuck this away in a closet. He carried it for the rest of his career, and the rest of his life.

    He took it to China and fought with the Boxers

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    Guest Rick Research

    This sword has been 2/3 of the way around the world and back, and half way across the world again.

    He took it with him and wore it as he moved on with his career:

    (Thanks to Glenn for the pre-war Fusileer Regiment 80 Stammliste entry above!)

    In 1906 he didn't replace the original scabbard when two rings suspensions were ordered replaced by one rings-- he had the second ring cut off. And in 1910 when nickled scabbards were ordered blackened, he didn't just have it over-painted: he had the nickle stripped and had that 1896 scabbard chemically blued

    He really REALLY liked this sword!

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    Guest Rick Research

    This SWORD came back, but not Maximilian, Baron Romberg.

    Unfortunately the scanner has made the bright nickled blade look dark, but there is no mistaking unrepaired STRIKE marks on the cutting edge.

    Maximilian Freiherr von Romberg was killed by a gun shot in the belly.

    He left a widow and a very small son-- of whom anon. Maximilian Senior drops out of the tale, but his sword is still here. :rolleyes:

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    Guest Rick Research

    Two of Maximilians's three brothers were killed in the first months of the war in 1914, including the one who came home from South America with a premonition that he was going to die. The third of the four brothers was mortally wounded in 1914 and lingered on into 1915 before succumbing.

    Heartbroken at the loss of ALL FOUR of his sons in the first six months of the war, their father the Generalleutnant surrendered to despair and died himself, as it says here, of a broken heart.

    Two of Maximilian's three brothers in law were killed during the war.

    A 700 year old military family had been wiped out by modern technology.

    A husband and father was dead, leaving only this sword as a relic for his only child, little Max.

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    Guest Rick Research

    Such a beautiful thing to hang on the wall and admire the craftsmanship, the details

    unlooped from the wrist of a dead man in a village in France.

    But the story does not end there, or in Germany. It does not even end with Young Max.

    But it continued with Young Max.

    Starke Verlag's "Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels: Freiherrliches H?user A Band III" published in 1959 (and obtained by me from the publisher, mint, unsold stock, last year-- another "time capsule" find) had lost touch with the AMERICAN branch:

    ? Starke Verlag, 1959--

    The mysterious widow n?e Converse, married to Maximilian Senior in London in July 1907, remained a cypher. None who knew her then lived. I believe she was very likely born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1880--which possibly explains how a German WW1 war widow was able to get her German son The Young Baron into the United States so soon after the war.

    VERY soon, because still-16 Young Max got himself married in New York City in 1928 to a 20 year old Montana woman, daughter and granddaughter of high plains dentists whose forefathers had moved from a spot not 15 minutes from my house, where THEIR kin had married into MY kin a couple of centuries back...

    before the gene pool dried up and it was Go West or end up with webbed toes and vestigal tails

    like the inbred descendants of the Auld Queen. :unsure:

    Emily n?e Hall von Romberg Sprekkels of New York City via Butte, Montana long outlived Young Max-- who remained forever Young Max, dying before the next World War in the year he would have been only 27. What tragedy remains unknown, there? Emily remarried (sketchily) and had taken on a third husband, art collector Burton G. Tremaine, by 1959-- all apparently without any offspring.

    So THIS sword was a memento of shockingly reversed (for those days) Young Love. What did Mister Sprekkels think about this memento amore? What did Mister Tremaine think of a pointed reminder of his dowager bride's long ago cradle-robbed First?

    We'll never know about the shadowy Mister Sprekkels.

    Emily H. v.R. S. Tremaine died in Meriden, CT on 16 December 1987... mere miles from the ancestral hearth of Yrs Truly.

    Burton G. Tremaine (born 31 August 1901) died somewhere in Connecticut on 23 March 1991, followed soon by a presumable son from an earlier marriage of the same name.

    By 1999, this sword had found its way to an upstate New York swords dealer. It then came to live in its present home

    not 15 minutes from the ancestral hearth of Very Young Max's bouncing beauty from Butte.

    Like stray kittens, the "things" we collect had "lives"--often many many "lives" of their own before we acquire them. Often, their stories are unknowable. But sometimes, we can find a thread and follow it.

    This is where this thread has led to. :catjava:

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    • 3 weeks later...


    Great research as always, but more notably, a story told with much craft and humor. What impresses me is the breadth of knowledge of history and language, put together in a most artful manner. Great reading! :cheers:


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    • 2 weeks later...

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