Swiss 1842 Pattern Sawback Pioneer's Sidearm, Dated 1891 by Wester & Co., Solingen
Straight double-edged blade with sawback. Ribbed solid brass hilt with cross guard and oval pommel. Scabbard of black leather-covered wood with brass fittings at throat and chape.
Maker’s marked to the ricasso with ‘Wester & Co Solingen’ and on the opposite face stamped with the serial number ‘21964’ and date of manufacture ‘1891’.
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.
Blades with a saw-toothed back were also tried during this same period in an attempt to add functionality as a tool, such as on the British 1871 and 1879 pattern bayonets for the Martini-Henry rifle, and the Pioneer’s swords of various nations. Such attempts were generally considered failures, as a sawblade needs to be much narrower and longer than a short sword or bayonet to cut efficiently, and the soldiers had trouble sharpening the saw after use. This model combines both fanciful features in one.
Blade is mint. Leather washer is present and intact, the leather of the scabbard has minor scuffing consistent with age. The scabbard’s frog hook is very slightly bent, still intact and usable.