British P1856 type 1 Saber Bayonet
Offered here is a nice example of the British P1856 type 1 saber bayonet. This bayonet was designed in 1856 for the newly adopted rifle. The bayonet is distinguished from other British rifle bayonets of the era by the very long, roughly 1 inch, guide mortise on the hilt. The long guide was reduced fairly early on, and was eliminated on British military rifles by 1858. Also in 1858 the design was improved by replacing the rivet that held the locking spring in place with a screw allowing for easier replacement of broken springs.
This bayonet combines the early "long guide" type 1 lug mortise with a screw retained. The mixing of features is typical of commercially produced weapons intended for various British Volunteer units in the 1850s and 1860s as well as arms exported to both the United States and the Confederacy during the Civil War.
There are only two marks on the entirety of the bayonet. The first is the mating number, a small 31, stamped on the top of the pommel. This number would correspond with the number struck on the lug of the matching rifle. Interestingly the "1" is stamped upside down. Secondly, there is a Roman Numeral XIX carved onto the left side of the handle. Generally Roman Numerals are accepted as being sign of Confederate arsenal work, and in this case I would tend to agree. I believe that this mark was applied when the bayonet and a P1856 rifle were mated together after being turned in to the Ordnance Department. The hand made nature of the vast majority of imported British arms means that their components would not freely interchange, thus numbering their parts and appendages is necessary.
The grip on this example is made of leather, which is correct for the majority of imported British saber bayonets. The left side grip has some wear that has removed a good portion of the original texturing. The right side's texture is almost entirely intact.
The blade measures just under 23 inches and is in good condition and free from any nicks or abrasions.. The blade has a mostly dulled bright finish with some scattered toning that is more concentrated near the hilt, along the spine of the blade, and in the blood groove. There is some light scattered pitting along the blade, and one patch about half way down the left side blood groove.
The hilt has an attractive uniform dark patina. There is a patch of brightness on the left side crossguard and one small scuff on the left side of the lower quillion. The spring catch works properly.
All-in-all this is a nice, untouched example of the fairly rare P1856 type 1 saber bayonet. This bayonet was likely Confederate used, but doesn't carry the hefty price tag of Confederate inventory control numbered example. This would be a great addition to a collection of imported blades, or a nice filler until a numbered P1856 type 1 bayonet comes along.