(Above) Note how the drag has been worn down. From constantly being "dragged", the brass has been filed down in an even curve consistent with the manner in which the sword was worn and scraped the ground overtime.
(Above) This cavalry blade evidences period sharpening. This sharpening was done in a specific manner and not over the entire blade; only the forward impact part of the blade. It should not be confused with Uncle Joe, who in 1960 sharpened the sword to cut down a tree in the yard.
Clearly, this sword was worn consistently. Note how the carry rings have worn the ring mounts down. It would take constant and consistent use to achieve this degree of wear. Steel mounts may not exhibit such pronounced wear as the metal is much harder.
Collectors have preferences; nuances that particular items have that command their attention. While there may be those that prefer high grade presentation swords, there are those that prefer the working sword; or both. They look for the sword that was actually carried in the field for everyday use and not solely for the purpose of functions and ceremonies. The enlisted man's sword usually exhibits signatures of field use and abuse. The officer's sword may be less easy to identify the degree of use as they tended to treat their items with a higher degree of care. Below are a couple of examples of what to look for on a field used sword.