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Sebastian Szukalski

Joined: 10 Jun 2012

Posts: 48

PostPosted: Thu 04 Jun, 2015 3:23 am    Post subject: A french 1882 Infantry Officers Sword.         Reply with quote

So I've decided that I'm gonna start posting a few of my antiques, starting with one of my more recent acquisitions.

(I know the color is off, but I was in a hurry, as I am rehilting a basket hilt repro, and converting a broken feder for one handed use. More on that later if anyone is interested.)

DESIGN: This is the 1882 French model infantry officers sword (épée d'Officier d'infanterie Mle 1882), which was a stiff, thrust-centric sword with no real edge to speak of. The profile taper is pronounced and fairly even, with the blade forming a very neat point, however the distal taper is somewhat less pronounced, adding to the stiffness of the blade.
This particular model is highly decorated, and though the blade is of Klingenthal / coulaux manufacture, the hilt seems to have been made by a custom cutler. This particular hilt has an additional bar added, for extra hand protection.

Many french swords used "german silver" or nickel silver for their hilts, this however has a steel hilt, coated nickel.

This example has a vertical sword knot loop, rather than the horizontal one of earlier specimens, which afforded easier tying of the knot, as well as slightly better durability.

The blade is highly compromised in terms of it's thrusting bias, and has a oval cross section with two offset fullers which are deep and narrow, making this blade very hard to flex. If flexed the blade quickly returns to true.

The blade and hilt are nickel coated, as is the steel dress scabbard. The grip is made of horn, presumably buffalo. There is a single wire in the wrap missing, however given the age of the sword the condition is superb. There is some damage to the plating on the hilt and scabbard, however the blade is without any form of tarnish.

History: This pattern of sword would have seen use in world war 1, however this particular example predates those events, and has not seen use.

The blade is made, as noted, in Klingenthal, the national manufacturing facility for swords in France, however the word itself is German for "valley of the blades".
Note, the hanging system here pictured is in fact a polish system, as this sword type was used by a polish regiment (from what I can gather, the "Blue Army") where it was known as a "hallerówka", after General Jozef Haller.

It is also possible that someone just chucked a polish hanging system onto it for fun a some point in history.

This sword was made in July of 1896, as noted on the etched blade. There is a faint inscription of Klingenthal on one side, with Coulaux Cie on the other. The proof marks, having been covered by the nickel coating applied by the private cutler as difficult to discern.

The floral motifs and initials on the backstrap are elaborate and delicate, and mark this as a superior officers sword (as opposed to the standard model which was not decorated.) A similar sword is on display at the Australian War Memorial,

a 19th century cut steel court sword,
followed by an 1822 British officers sabre,
an Italian 1872 Infantry Officers sword,
and then a 1889 Prussian Life Guards Hussars' Pallasch,
followed by a "Frankenstien" of mismatched parts.

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Last edited by Sebastian Szukalski on Wed 10 Jun, 2015 10:36 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Shahril Dzulkifli

Location: Malaysia
Joined: 13 Dec 2007
Likes: 1 page

Posts: 1,265

PostPosted: Fri 05 Jun, 2015 1:25 am    Post subject: A French 1882 Infantry Officers Sword         Reply with quote

You know something Sebastian, this French sword was used from the year of its creation to WWI but not during WWII.

“You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength”

- Marcus Aurelius
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Niels Just Rasmussen

Location: Nykøbing Falster, Denmark
Joined: 03 Sep 2014

Spotlight topics: 15
Posts: 828

PostPosted: Fri 05 Jun, 2015 3:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for sharing, Sebastian.
Look forward to see all your antiques.

Interesting that the "épée d'Officier d'infanterie Mle 1882" is designed so thrust centric, as I would imagine an infantry officer rather would want a blade more balanced between both thrusting and slashing in close combat.
Being a very stiff blade would likely make you run through the enemy with it (running charge envisioned?!) with your soldiers behind and beside you using bayonets.
So essentially that must be the idea behind the sword design? Equivalent to a "bayonet charge".
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Sebastian Szukalski

Joined: 10 Jun 2012

Posts: 48

PostPosted: Fri 05 Jun, 2015 6:04 am    Post subject: World wars         Reply with quote

Thanks for the additional info, amended the use from "wwi and wwii" to just "wwi"
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Glen A Cleeton

Location: Nipmuc USA
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 1,968

PostPosted: Fri 05 Jun, 2015 8:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A nice piece. Have you been able to determine what the letters of the monogram are? (they are not shown straight on and upright in your photo). The suspension is interesting, perhaps for mounted infantry or artillery officer? I have a pre-1882 sword of this type with the same offset groves (cannelure). No doubt the grip is buffalon horn. I was perplexed with a jet black grip wondering if it was plastic but was assured it is horn. Another later sword though, was indeed plastic.

If was done by a private cutler, there should be a cartouche of some type on the base of the guard by the blade (usually on the blade side).


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Jonathan Hopkins

PostPosted: Sat 06 Jun, 2015 3:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great sword, Sebastian. The M1882 is on my list on non-British swords I'd like to get one day. A nice one like yours with officer's initials would be ideal. I wonder if there are any French Army lists like the British lists that weer kept. Researching the original owners of these weapons is often just as interesting, if not more so, than researching the swords themselves.
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Jordan E. Williams

Location: California
Joined: 25 Mar 2016

Posts: 134

PostPosted: Mon 29 Jan, 2018 10:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I know I am very late, however I had one of these pass through my hands last year and wanted to share the info from it.

It was service sharpened, and had a very long bevel ground into it. The front edge extended two thirds up the blade, and the false edge one third down the blade.

His Imperial and Royal Majesty Hordan Vilhelm the Great, by the Grace of God, German Emperor and King of Prussia, Margrave of Brandenburg, Burgrave of Nuremberg, Count of Hohenzollern, Duke of Silesia and of the County of Glatz, Grand Duke of the Lower Rhine!
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