A priceless heirloom that’s been used in a family’s weddings for four generations disappeared just weeks before it was supposed to cut its next cake.
Decorated Navy Adm. Alfred Vernon Jannotta’s dress sword first was used to cut a wedding cake when he got married in 1918, starting a tradition that has carried through the family.
“We have used it in every family wedding for four generations,” said Jannotta’s great-granddaughter Michelle, who asked News4 only use her first name.
Now it’s time for the sword to be put back in service.
“My sister is getting married in June, and she was preparing to use the sword in her wedding as well, and the sword has been lost,” Michelle said.
Michelle’s brother had the sword in Texas and shipped it to Maryland a couple of weeks ago. It made it to the UPS facility in Laurel, but as far as anyone can tell, that’s as far as it got.
UPS sent the family an email saying the sword was lost. Then, Tuesday, it closed the claim and ended the search.
“We were sick, sick to our stomachs,” Michelle said.
The family contacted UPS, which offered cash in place of the priceless family heirloom.
“They offered us a very insignificant monetary, you know, compensation,” Michelle said. “Two hundred dollars, they said, and again, you can’t put a price on the hundred years plus of memories.”
The family doesn’t think UPS has done enough to find the sword.
“I feel that they really should spend a little bit more time looking back through the cameras to see what could’ve possibly happened to the sword,” Michelle said.
The lost sword has a wedding cake to cut in five weeks.
“Every generation has pictures of their wedding cake with the sword, with the bride and the groom using the sword to cut the wedding cake,” Michelle said.
News4 reached out to UPS about the lost sword. UPS said it will continue to investigate, even adding additional resources to try to find the lost sword.
“The sword couldn’t have just disappeared,” Michelle said. “It’s out there somewhere. We want to find where it is.”
It wouldn’t be the first heirloom from her great-grandfather that disappeared but came back to the family. An engraved, gold locket given to Adm. Jannotta by his mother before he went to war was lost when the Germans sank his ship off the coast of New York. Divers found it in 1981, and it was returned to the family in 2017, Michelle said.
Her family hopes the same for the sword — and soon.
“I believe that it will find its way back to us,” Michelle said.
The family set up an account where people can email them if they learn information about the missing sword’s whereabouts.