Category: france

Majolica rabbit plates made by Choisy-le-Roi, France, c. 1900.

“Fantasie” French Officers M1882 Sword, “Préval” Smallsword Blade

This antique example of the French 1882 style Infantry Officers sword has an unusual, non-regulation blade. It is hollow ground triangular in cross-section, and is known as a Préval blade, named after General Claude Antoine de Préval, who trialed a similar style of blade in the 1830s as he believed it made sense from a cavalry perspective, being light, strong and very stiff.

The guard is also non-regulation. It is made of steel, instead of the standard German Silver (a white bronze alloy). It also has reinforcing ribs, unlike the regulation variant. It also has 1 extra outer sidebar and two inner bars.

It is marked Coulaux & cie, Klingenthal.

This style of Saumur hilt, combined with various unique blades, were often used by Zouave and Chasseur d’ Afrique regiments from around 1855 onward, and formed the basis on which the 1882 hilt was eventually built.

French Model 1829 Mounted Artillery Sword

I used to have one of these in much worse condition. They are really nice swords with excellent handling.

ImageAttributs au pochoir : Modèles d’enseignes et inscriptions,” book on stencil and sign design by A. Charayron & Léon Durand, Paris, 1914. 

(Via the National Library of France)

Antique French Sword Sizes Compared

Toledo Bladed Sabre with Steel Hilt – French 1882 Variant

This is a rare variant of a French model 1882 Infantry Officers sabre, with a reinforced steel hilt, and a toledo style sabre blade with a reinforced forte for enhanced parrying.

The toledo blade style features one wide central fuller flanked by two narrow fullers, and makes the edge thicker, preventing damage when parrying. It also makes swords that are very stiff for their weight.

This sword is short, and lightweight (590 grams, 91cm), and was thus likely a levy weight or piquet weight sword.

This sabre is a true sabre under both British definitions, having a curved blade, and French definitions, which go by hilt design.

It was made by Francois Backes and Francois Delacour in Paris.

An Infantry Sword with a Cavalry Blade – French 1882 Variant

This is a rare custom made variant of the 1882 French infantry officers sword. It features a bronze hilt with extra bars on the outside and inside of the guard, and an early example of an 1896 style cavalry blade, with a single fuller and single edge. It is stiff, and narrow, and well suited to thrusting style of combat. I hypothesize it was made for a mounted infantry officer, as it is optimised more for a cavalryman than an infantryman.

This example is 820 grams, and 104.5cm long overall, and was produced by Barre and Fils, Paris, an outfitter who made many custom swords including some very highly decorated presentation swords.

Presentation Grade 1882 French Officers Sword

This is a presentation grade French Infantry Officers sword, model of 1882, dating from 17th July 1896. It features an engraved guard made of German Silver (aka nickel silver) and a nickel-coated Klingenthal blade with frost etched floral panels and a precise dating. It is highly decorated, and very fancy.

It is 107cm overall, making it 7cm longer than the standard variant, and weighs 895 grams, making it 205 grams heavier than the regulation sword. It retains the offset fullers, and has gained an extra bar on the guard.

This example was custom made with deep relief carvings in the backstrap, containing the initials CS or SC.

The 1882 was used through the late 19th century, and into the 20th century, including world war 1. It was primarily a thrusting sword, though some rare examples were field sharpened. This example retains its nickel coating and blunt edge on the blade.

1882 French Infantry Officers Sword – Standard Variant

This is an extremely typical and highly representative variant of the french 1882 infantry officers sword, or Sabre modèle 1882 d’officier d’infanterie. It is worth noting that in french nomenclature and classification, a sabre is defined by the hilt, not the blade, whereas in british nomenclature the curvature of the blade defines a sabre.

The 1882, in its standard form, features a three-bar hilt made of german silver, a white bronze alloy, and a blade with offset fullers designed to optimise thrusting.

This will be the first of a series of videos covering variations in materials and designs in the 1882 pattern, including a rare presentation variant which will be the focus of the next video.

This example has a blade manufactures in Klingenthal by the Coulaux company, and bears G-star and C-star inspector marks. The guard bears the makers mark of Francois Delacour and Francois Backes, “FBD” with an ancient helmet in an oval. 

Why an Obsolete Sword Design from 1845 was Reintroduced in 1915

This is a model 1845/55 French infantry officers sabre. It was produced in chatellerault in 1915.

Officially, the 1845/55 pattern was replaced by the 1882 pattern. However due to the war, the French decided to start producing the 45’s again as they already had tooling for that. As a result, some 30,000 of these were made during WWI.

The hilt is gilt Arco, an alloy of copper, charcoal and zinc, potentially also tin. It has a distinctive reddish appearance under the gilding. The 1882 used a “German silver” alloy for the guard – also a copper alloy.

The blade is plain steel (without a nickel coating) – unlike the 1882 which is nickel coated.

It features one broad fuller and one narrow fuller on each side. The 1882 has offset fullers.