French M1882 Infantry Officer’s Sword by Klingenthal + Delacour & Backes, pre-1890
Straight blade with oval cross-section and a single narrow, deep fuller on each side. The blade is unsharpened, and its tip is blunt. Four-bar hilt of German silver (cupronickel alloy). Steel scabbard with single hanging ring. Wire-bound wood grip, leather washer, brown leather sword knot.
The hilt is stamped next to the quillon with the maker’s mark of F Delacour & Backes, a knight’s helm with a sword behind it, surrounded by the letters ‘FBD’, all within an oval. The blade is stamped with inspection marks and has engraved text at the ricasso on both sides, but this is partly hidden by the washer: one side may I think read ‘Coulaux’ and the other ‘Klingenthal’. A brass piece attached to the acorn of the sword knot is stamped ‘SOURDILLE DE SGDA’, possibly a maker’s mark.
The French army required officers to use sword blades from the government manufactory to ensure quality, but allowed them to shop around for its hilt among private sword makers if they wished to. This led to many interesting variations of hilt materials and aesthetic elements, while still matching the overall form of the 1882 pattern.
Francois Delacour was a high-quality Parisian retailer established in 1837, which merged with the business of Backes around 1860 to form F. Delacour & Backes. It traded on the Rue de Elzevir under this name until 1890.
Government arms manufacture at Klingenthal began in 1730 with the opening of what was then known as the 'Manufacture Royale d'Armes Blanches d'Alsace', and ended in 1836, the location being considered too vulnerable in case of invasion. Main production shifted to the arsenal at Châtellerault. The facility was thereafter run by the Coulaux family as a private enterprise, continuing to produce sword & bayonet blades, as well as fencing swords and agricultural blades, until its closure in 1962. At the time this blade was produced the Klingenthal plant would have been within the borders of Germany, having been captured in 1870 during the Franco-Prussian War.
The blade is clean, bright and undamaged, with a sharp point. The outmost bar of the hilt is slightly bent outwards at its base where it joins the knucklebow. The grip has some chipping to the segment nearest the hilt, and nearest the pommel. The wire binding is all present, several loops toward the pommel end are slightly loose. The sword knot is in a fragile state, it has significant flaking and losses such as to the leather covering of the acorn, which has been almost completely lost to reveal its wooden core. The scabbard has a small amount of patina and light pitting to the chape.