British 1853 Pattern Brass Hilted Artillery Bayonet, Rare Variant Type
Single-fullered ‘yataghan’ downward-curving blade, cross hilt with straight lower quillon with round forward-swept finial, and upper quillon projecting from the muzzle ring. The muzzle ring has a notch on its outer rim on one side. Ribbed cast brass grip and beaked pommel, attached to the tang with two steel rivets, one of which secures the external leaf spring which actuates the locking catch. No scabbard. Blade length: 57.5cm (~22.6 inches), overall length 69.7cm (~27.5 inches), muzzle ring diameter 20mm
The hilt is stamped on one side with ‘9E213’, in an unusual script. The blade is stamped at the forte on one side with a crown inspection stamp for Enfield, and on the other side with a knight’s helm, which is the maker’s mark for C F Kirschbaum, a manufacturer based in Solingen, Germany, as well as two broad arrows point-to-point, a mark that was put on War Department equipment that was declared obsolete or to be sold off.
The introduction of the yataghan bladed sword bayonet to British service was attributed to William Pritchett, who had a leading role in development of the 1853 pattern Enfield rifle-musket. Visiting France in 1851 he observed the M1842 rifle-musket and bayonet in use with the French Chasseurs, and patterned the sword bayonets for the new British rifle very closely after that French model, including a cast brass hilt and a sheet steel scabbard. The brass hilt was manufactured for around 2 years, with around 10,000 ordered, mostly from contractors in Belgium (who subcontracted to Solingen firms).
Most of the brass-hilted 1853s had a reverse-swept lower quillon like that on the French model, but this type has a straight lower quillon with a forward-swept finial. Only a few were made, and Skennerton notes* that these may have been produced in one of the last Belgian contracts, perhaps as a trial version, which would make sense since the new hilt shape continued in all the yataghan bayonets that came after. A rare version of a rare version, it is unknown how many exist. It is also noteworthy that Skennerton was unable to find any example of this type complete with scabbard – presumably this would have also been the French-style sheet steel model.
The final form of the 1853, which was produced in much larger numbers, had a black leather scabbard with steel mounts, and a grip of pressed leather over wood, a pattern which continued with the 1856, 1858 and 1860 yataghan-bladed sword bayonets.
The blade has some patination, including a dark patch in the fuller on one side. Some rounding and deformation to the tip – the unfullered section bends slightly to the left. The brass grip has an even patina and the usual scattered small dents.
*See British & Commonwealth Bayonets by Skennerton, p111