Straight double fullered, spear pointed blade 96cm (~37¾ inches) in length, brass hilt with central knucklebow bar and three side bars, ribbed wood grip covered with pressed leather. Steel scabbard with two hanging rings.
The spine of the blade is engraved with ‘Manufre Rle du Klingenthal Janvier 1816’. This indicates that the blade was made at the Royal factory at Klingenthal in January of 1816 (the French Bourbon monarchy having been restored in July 1815 after Napoleon’s defeat in the Hundred Days). It is stamped at the forte with three Klingenthal poincons, or inspector’s stamps, including ‘B’ within a wreath for controller J. G. Bick, ‘L’ for reviewer Francois Louis Lobstein and another ‘B’, possibly for inspector Etienne-Louis Borson. The hilt is stamped on its central bar with the serial number ‘877’ and further poincons. There is a faint serial number on the scabbard’s upper ring mount, possibly ‘411’.
The AN XI Cuirassier trooper’s sword was introduced in 1802, the 11th year of the French Revolutionary calendar. It aimed to improve upon the previous AN IX with a reinforced wood-lined scabbard and a lighter blade, with its characteristic double fullers retaining the blade’s strength while removing steel along its entire length. It was considered very well designed for the heavy cavalry role of the French cuirassiers – the Prussians in particular preferred it to their own equipment, and adopted it directly as their own ‘Model 1817’. The AN XIII was the final revision of the XI type approved in 1804, nearly identical to the XI.
Its post-Napoleonic replacement, the new Model 1816, came with an order that all existing AN XI/XIII blades were to be shortened to 95cm and their previously hatchet pointed tips reshaped. Model 1816 blades have a rounded spine, so the flat spine of this blade indicates that while it is dated 1816, it was originally made as an AN XIII, making it one of the last of its type produced.
The hilt and grip meanwhile are consistent with the Model 1854. This mismatch resulted from differences in supply of parts: after the modification process the large stock of pre-1816 blades were still perfectly usable. The French still had blades left over even after exhausting their production run of 1816 pattern hilts. These were eventually given the Model 1854 hilt and put into service decades after their manufacture – meaning that a blade made during the First Empire could quite easily still be in service during the Franco-Prussian War (1870).
The scabbard of this sword is also the ‘1816’ pattern, officially adopted in that year but actually in use some years earlier, as seen on swords recovered from Waterloo and other earlier battlefields with that scabbard.
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 close to the German border and 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.
The blade is superb with no edge damage, bright but not too highly polished. The brass hilt has a mild and even patina. The wire binding of the grip has been lost. Some surface wear to the leather of the grip consistent with handling, no major losses. The scabbard has an even dark finish with no noticeable damage – the chape piece has been reshaped to be asymmetrical (shaved down on the drag side) but this appears to be intentionally done, with a fairly smooth edge.
£720 including UK postage - see the Blackthorn Antiques website for purchase, for details on postage elsewhere and for more antique arms not shown on Gunstar.
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