British M1860 Pattern Short Rifle Yataghan Bayonet, Export or Volunteer Model
Single-fullered ‘yataghan’ downward-curving blade, cross hilt with lower quillon with round finial, and upper quillon projecting forward from the muzzle ring. Black chequered grips of pressed leather, attached to the exposed tang with three rivets on one side and four on the other. External leaf spring which actuates the locking catch, attached by a single screw. Steel beaked pommel. Black leather scabbard with steel throat and chape pieces, the throat piece with oval frog stud, both with incised lines.
Blade length: 22.9 inches (58.2cm), overall length 28.3 inches (72.0cm), muzzle ring diameter 20.7mm.
In 1859 growing tensions in Europe raised concerns about Britain’s vulnerability to potential invasion. To bolster national defenses the War Office sanctioned the establishment of ‘Volunteer Corps’. These units were somewhat a reinvention of the militia – non-professional soldiers who were expected to provide their own uniform and equipment, train at regular intervals and be ready for mobilisation in case of invasion. Providing their own equipment extended to arms too – some volunteer rifle units were provided with Army surplus but many instead pooled money and purchased weaponry from the commercial market.
The new 1860 Pattern Short Rifle became a popular choice for the Volunteers, as it was modern and more accurate than surplus 1853 Patterns. There was also a strong export market to India and other colonies, and a small number went to the United States for use in the ongoing Civil War.
All British government purchases of these rifles and their bayonets would have received the appropriate inspection, stores and/or usage marks. Without any clear markings, this example is probably a commercial version. The bayonets were produced by numerous firms in Britain and Germany.
Some small nicks to the edge of the blade, which is unsharpened, near the end of the fuller and patination in places. The ricasso on both sides has some side-to-side polishing marks. The hilt, pommel, rivets and exposed tang likewise patinated in places. The locking button functions well. The leather grips are in good condition with very little handling wear, some small losses around the leaf spring attachment. The scabbard parts are likewise patinated, with some very light scratching to the reverse of the throat piece. There is a split to the leather section on one edge – this has been caused by the blade cutting through upon sheathing and drawing, due to its curved shape and the leather having hardened, slightly bowed and probably shrunk with age. The bayonet will sheath, but to prevent any further splitting I recommend keeping it out of its scabbard. The leather section has all of its stitching, some rubbing and flaking to its surface in places which shows up brown.