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WW1 & WW2 M1886/35 French Lebel Epee Bayonet & Scabbard – Rare Variant

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WW1 & WW2 M1886/35 French Lebel Epee Bayonet & Scabbard – Rare Variant

$375.00
Product code: 190

Availability: SOLD

Quick Overview:

A SHORTENED FRENCH LEBEL BAYONET (MODEL 1886/35) AND SCABBARD PRODUCED BY MANUFACTURE D'ARMES DE CHATELLERAULT ORIGINALLY MANUFACTURED DURING WW1 AS A BAÏONNETTE MODÈLE 1886 (MLE.1886) AND ARMOURY ADAPTED AFTER 1935.

Details

A SHORTENED FRENCH LEBEL BAYONET (MODEL 1886/35) AND SCABBARD PRODUCED BY MANUFACTURE D'ARMES DE CHATELLERAULT ORIGINALLY MANUFACTURED DURING WW1 AS A BAÏONNETTE MODÈLE 1886 (MLE.1886) AND ARMOURY ADAPTED AFTER 1935.

This French bayonet used between 1886 and WW2 is in excellent original condition and is the variation with a shortened cruciform blade, truncated quillon, removable brass hilt and circular press button release catch (after 1893 the shape of the release catch press button changed from the original round type). This particular 'Rosalie',as these bayonets were affectionately called by the French Infantry, was produced by 'Manufacture d'Armes de Chatellerault', probably the most highly regarded and sought after French maker, utilising a matching 'Chatellerault'manufacturedcruciform blade. Both bayonet and scabbard are in very good to excellent condition (see pictures).

The Poilu's 'Rosalie', or the 'virgin of Bayonne' as  Rudyard Kipling called it, came into use when the French adopted the Fusil 2 Infanterie Modelle 1886 (Mann/Berthier Lebel), the famous Lebel. With modifications, this continued in use throughout both world wars as the standard infantry bayonet of the French Army.  Early versions, were equipped with a hooked quillon which was designed to deflect an opponent’s bayonet but was found to catch on obstacles, particularly barbed wire.  As a consequence the French General Staff ordered that this feature be removed from French bayonets in 1915.  Hooked quillons were therefore removed from some early versions and all bayonets manufactured after 1915 were produced with truncated quillons. This example is one of the rarer 'originally hooked' versions with a removable white metal alloy grip originally produced prior to 1893 with a hooked quillon and designated Baïonnette Modèle 1886 (Mle.1886).  In 1935 it was one of a number of Mle. 1886, 1886/93 and 1886/93/15 that were armoury adapted and shortened to the new Mle. 1886/35 specification. An outstanding photograph of a French Foreign Legionnaires at Bir Hakim in North Africa in 1942 with short Roselie fitted to their rifles is attached to this listing as is a photograph of a French Colonial Senegalese Tirailleur with uncut Mle. 1886 fitted to his rifle.

The grips for these bayonets were made in many different metals, prior to WW1 these were made in German nickel silver (bronze de nickel) or what is referred to as maillechort. On the 25th of October of 1914 German nickel silver was substituted with brass (laiton) or aluminum bronze (bronze d'aluminium) normally called tambak or jaune (yellow) and in July of 1917 steel (acier) and grey cast iron (fonte grise) handles substituted all previous metals. Cast iron was tested by Manufacture Nationale d'Armes de Châtellerault in March of 1917 and was authorized because of easier cast ability by private industry companies.  The maillechort grip and hooked quillon of this bayonet confirm it was manufactured before the WW1.

The markings are clearly visible, with the 'Manufacture d'Armes de Chatellerault' makers stamp and the number 38350on the quillon.  The shortened 342mm cruciform blade, reduced from 520mm, is in excellent original condition with a very good point.  The rare removable grip hilt is stamped with the production number 1530.  These bayonets were also marked with a small quality control and military acceptance mark called Contrôleur Poinçons (controllers stamps). These are often stamped on the bottom or side of blade and just above the frog strap bale on the scabbard. There were three different type of acceptance marks used: Directeur de Manufacture (Armory Director), Contrôleur Généraux Principaux (Principal Arms Inspector) and Contrôleur de 1ème, 2ème y 3 ème Classe (1st, 2nd and 3rd Class Controllers). Both the Directeur de Manufacture and Contrôleur Généraux Principaux marks will be found with a letter within a circle and Contrôleur de 1ème, 2ème y 3 ème Classe will be found with a letter within a shield. The excellent steel scabbard on this example retains traces of its original blued finish and is stamped with a very worn weapon number, which appears to be R8586, on the rear ring of the fixing strap,it is also Contrôleur Poinçons marked (see picture). This is clearly a mis-match with the bayonet which is usually the case with shortened Mle. 1886/35 Lebel’s as bayonets and scabbards were not re-numbered or matched during the modification process (see picture).

This is a first class First and Second World War French bayonet in excellent condition from a very well regarded maker with a matching blade in good original condition: Removable brass and steel hilt with semi-circular steel press button and internal spring, secured by a single steel screw and rivet pin with muzzle ring and armoury truncated quillon.  Shortened cruciform steel blade with fluted runners.

Type: Manufacture d'Armes de Chatellerault M1886/35
Overall Length: 460.0 mm
Blade Length:  342.0 mm
Blade Width (at guard):  13.0 mm
Scabbard: Blued steel with a strap fixing, numbered & stamped.
Overall Length of Scabbard:  365.0 mm

This is an excellent example of the last iteration of the seminal French bayonet of the First and Second World Wars manufactured by one of the best known French arms manufacturers.   I have not come across an example as good as this for some time as they are often quite battered given the length of time they were in service.  This bayonet is a cracker.

Additional Information

Weight (kg) 1.2000