This is a solid example of an early US 1798 Contract Socket Bayonet. As is typical of most of these bayonets, delivered in conjunction with the US 1798 contract muskets, it is essentially unmarked with no indication of who the contractor that produced the bayonet was. The only marking is a small 2 that is difficult to see, stamped in front of the mortise cut. This was a mating mark that matched the bayonet to the musket. The lack of bridge on the socket indicates it is an early production bayonet. Interestingly, the bayonet is cut for a bottom lug, indicating that the gun it would have been mated with was made by a contractor who was following the Harpers Ferry production 1795 musket pattern, as only the Harpers Ferry M1795 muskets produced circa 1800-1808 had under muzzle bayonet lugs. During 1808, the lug was moved to the top of the barrels of the Harpers Ferry guns, following the pattern established at Springfield Armory.
The bayonet has the following dimension:
Overall Length: 18 5/8”
Blade Length: 15 ¼” with a maximum width of 15/16” and no face flute.
Socket Length: 2 15/16”, with a 1.3” muzzle to stud distance.
Bore Diameter: .861”
As is typical for bayonet of this period, the blade face is flat with a pronounced spine along the rear of the blade. As noted, the unbridged socket is cut for a bottom lug with a two-step “Z” shaped mortise. A clear diagonal weld line is present near the ricasso, showing the transition from the iron socket and shank to the steel blade.
The bayonet remains in about GOOD+ to NEAR VERY GOOD condition. It has a dull, steel gray patina with scattered pinpricking and light pitting over much of the metal. There is oxidized discoloration scattered over the entire bayonet as well, giving it a “salt & pepper” appearance. As is so often the case on these bayonets with iron and steel components, the iron socket and shank show slightly more light pitting and discoloration than the steel blade does. The bayonet remains solid and complete, shows no indication of having been shortened and is of course, fully functional.
This would be a solid addition to any US 1798 Contract Musket with a bottom bayonet lug and would possibly fit an early production Harpers Ferry M1795 musket as well. These early production Federal Era socket bayonets cut for a bottom stud can be hard to find, and this is a solid example.