French M1816 Artillery Sidearm
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. Black leather scabbard with brass chape and throat pieces, with frog loop.
A manufacturer’s mark in cursive script is just visible on one side of the blade at the ricasso, but is illegible due to heavy patination and speckled pitting. The hilt is stamped with several serial numbers: ‘2389’, and ‘3616’, which is cancelled with a strikethrough, and an illegible three-digit number struck deeply in the centre of the hilt.
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 a dark patina overall and areas of significant pitting. The tip is worn and there are some nicks to the edge. The hilt has an aged patina to the brass and some small dents. and the steel rivets have a dark patina matching the blade. The scabbard leather is original and has areas of light rubbing, flaking and surface-level cracking, a 5cm long split along part of one side. Its stitching has almost all been lost. The throat and chape pieces of the scabbard have been painted a very dark green at some point, which has worn off on one side of the chape piece. The staples attaching the pieces to the scabbard leather have been lost, the throat piece is cracked along one side and the chape piece has denting and cracking along its upper edge on one side.