Judge Orders Collector to Return Antique Sword to Brown U.

A magistrate judge in Virginia has ordered a collector of antiques to return a Civil War-era sword that was stolen from Brown University in the 1970s. Col. Rush C. Hawkins was presented with the ornamental sword and scabbard in 1863, for his service to the Union during the war. Colonel Hawkins later became a general and included the sword and most of his art in a memorial that became part of Brown in 1948. Brown closed the memorial in the 1970s, and found that the sword and other items were missing when the memorial later reopened. Brown sued a collector who bought the sword in 1992 in a bid to reclaim it, and the judge ruled on Wednesday that the university was the sword’s rightful owner.

An attorney for the university said the judge made the right call.

“Brown, as the true owner, was entitled to get its property back,” said the attorney, Christopher Duggan of Boston.

“Colonel Hawkins was a true American hero, which was why he was presented with this Tiffany sword in 1863 by prominent citizens of New York. It belongs with the Colonel’s collection at the Annmary Brown Memorial,” he said in an email.

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