British Pattern 1859 Naval Cutlass Bayonet
- Product Code: EWB-1615-SOLD
- Availability: Out Of Stock
This is a very nice example of the relatively scarce British Pattern 1859 Type II Naval Cutlass Bayonet for use on the Pattern 1858 “Enfield” Naval Rifle. These rifles had thicker barrels than the standard Pattern 1856 rifle and were rifled with 5 grooves instead of the normal 3 grooves. The British military wanted to create a dual-purpose bayonet for the rifle (much like Admiral Dahlgren did with his Bowie Knife/Bayonet for the US M-1861 Naval Rifle), and settled on a combination naval cutlass & bayonet as the most practical design. The length and weight of the bayonet must have made its use on the end of a rifle very awkward. In fact the bayonet had a massive 27 ““ long blade and an overall length of 33”; the same length as the barrel of the rifle that it was intended to be attached to! The British military contracted for about 80,000 of these cutlass bayonets, and it is interesting to note that aside from a small contract of less than 800 delivered by Reeves of Birmingham, all of the other contractors involved used Solingen made blades in the fabrication of their bayonets. In fact the British trade used so many Solingen blades during the 1850’s and 1860’s that a British Ordnance Department viewing room was established there to inspect the blades prior to shipping them to England. The bayonets with these Solingen inspected blades are marked with a (CROWN) / S / # mark, with the number being the number of the inspector who approved the blade. Once the Solingen blades arrived in England, the contractors who had the contracts to produce the bayonets would assemble, hilt and deliver them to the Ordnance Department. It is also interesting to note that the Ordnance Department reported a significant number of problems with the bayonets, usually associated with the quality of the blade. Large numbers were returned to the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield Lock for repair and refurbishment during their service life. Even more were altered for use with the smaller bore Snider Naval Rifle from 1870-1871, making the unaltered, original bore bayonets more scarce.
The blade of this particular bayonet is marked with the logo of J.E. BLECKMANN of Solingen, a Drawn Bow & Arrow with the letters B & M within the curves of the drawn bow. J. E. Bleckmann went into business as a cutler in Solingen in 1808 and remained in business under that name until 1880. They were never heavily involved in the production of military blades, but did contract to provide 10,000 cavalry saber blades to Ames during the American Civil War, and also produced sabers (or at least their blades) for import to the combatants during the war. Civil War era Bleckmann blades are considered scarce. It is also interesting to note that Bleckmann in not listed as one of the Solingen makers who provided P-1859 Cutlass Bayonet blades for any of the British military contracts. An inquiry was held in 1887 to look into the aforementioned issues with blade quality, and the various Solingen makers involved were listed in the investigation, but Bleckmann was not among them. This indicates that the bayonet blade was likely manufactured for sale on the commercial market either to the British Volunteers or to US or CS buyers during the American Civil War.
The Pattern 1859 Type II Naval Cutlass Bayonet offered here is in VERY GOOD+ to NEAR FINE condition overall. The blade is full-length and is clearly marked with the Bleckmann logo on the ricasso. The ricasso is also marked with the mark of the British Viewer in Solingen: (CROWN) / S / 8, however there are no British military acceptance or storekeepers marks on the bayonet anywhere. In fact there are no other marks on the cutlass bayonet at all. The blade has a medium gray color and has been lightly cleaned. It shows scattered peppering and minor pinpricking, scattered along its length, as well as some patches of age staining and minor light oxidation. The solid iron basket hilt has a darker, smoky gray patina and is mostly smooth metal with only some scattered patches of minor age staining and light oxidation. The original locking spring is present in the grip and functions exactly as it should. The two-piece pressed leather grip panels are in about FINE condition, and show little or no shrinkage and retain about 90% of their original finish. The grips retain the majority of their roll embossed knurling (while the pattern is “checkered” it is not actual checkering, but embossing with a roll die) and show only some light wear and minor scuffmarks. The grips are much nicer than they are normally encountered on a bayonet of this pattern.
Overall this is a really attractive example of one of the scarcer British bayonets to be found on this side of the ocean. While there is no way to be sure, the lack of British acceptance marks raises the possibility that this cutlass bayonet may have been purchased by US or CS agents for use on one of the P-1858 Naval rifles that were imported by both sides during the war. Of all the Enfield “short rifles”, the Naval Rifle was one that was imported in very small quantities, making the bayonets even more rare in America today. This is a much better than average example of a rare bayonet with no alteration and would be a great addition to display with your Pattern 1858 Naval rifle or add to your collection of Civil War era bayonets.SOLD