French M1816 Artillery Sidearm, Naval Markings
Leaf-shaped blade with two short, narrow fullers and single long fuller, solid brass hilt, brass grip with fishscale texture and three steel rivets, oval brass pommel. No scabbard.
The blade is stamped on one side with ‘Manceaux’, a sword manufacturer based in Paris, and on the other side with a proof mark ‘B’. The hilt is stamped with a tilde-shaped mark (~), an anchor and the serial number ‘1510’. The anchor mark is very interesting, suggesting naval usage of what was designed to be an artilleryman’s sidearm.
Sidearms with the form of a neoclassical ‘gladius’ appear to have originated with the French 1771 ‘Eagle Head’ Artillery sword. A series of very similar-looking short swords were subsequently designed, including the French 1816 & 1831 Artillery, the US Model 1832 Foot Artillery, the Swiss 1842 Pioneer’s, the Russian 1848 Pioneer’s and the British 1855 Land Transport. While durable and simple to manufacture, they were not particularly useful for combat (the gladius having become obsolete for good reasons) so remained either ceremonial items or in the role of a machete for various field tasks such as clearing brush.
The blade has areas of light patination and scattered light pitting. The hilt is quite bright and has some small dents to raised edges – the rivets have a dark patina.