The 1866 Chassepot

Many thanks to those collectors who have shared their photos and information to compile this page and especially those on the Yahoo bayonet. forum, for their help, information and encouragement

The classic French bayonet, the fifth in the Yataghan series of bayonets. Lighter than the original 1840 bayonet that started the family, the bayonet has the same brass hilt and double curved yataghan blade. Manufactured from 1866 until some time after the introduction of the 1874 Gras, the blade remained in service until around 1900 in ceremonial usage. The history of the Chassepot is somewhat confused due to three changes in the markings applied to the bayonet as production started in the 2nd empire period, continued through the Franco Prussian war Defense Nationale government and on into the 3rd Republic. In addition the blade was manufactured by several foreign suppliers during the FP war - including German manufacturers. I hope on this page to be able to identify the various markings found on the type, however this is probably never never to be completely resolved as there are several essentially similar bayonets that are often taken as being 1866's

To further confuse the situation, during the Franco Prussian war, especially during the siege of Paris, many Chassepot blades were utilised to make bayonets for Remington rifles bought in from the USA (originally destined for Egypt), giving rise to Remington hilted bayonets with Markings appropriate to the Chassepot bayonets.

There are large numbers of unknown markings, these may or may not be 1866 Chassepot bayonets, and the lack of identification may be a political move by Belgian and Dutch suppliers to provide France with blades but not upset the Germans. Similarly the German supplied blades were often remarked with French markings to hide their history.

An unconfirmed story has it that the Kaiser at the time in Germany, was asked if it was OK to supply France with bayonets during the Franco Prussian war. The answer apparently was, that it was perfectly alright as they would be getting them back soon enough anyway. Says something for the Kaisers confidence.

"French" marked blades: 

 

Second Empire markings - 1866 to Oct/Nov 1870
Mre Impale de Chatt  Impériale de Chatellerault Arsenal

courtesy Michael Curran

Courtesy Jeff Hayes

Courtesy Harry Savage

Mre Impale de St EtienneImpériale de Saint Étienne Arsenal.

Blades have been reported with Alex Coppel markings

Courtesy Jeff Hayes

Mre Impale de Tulle Impériale de Tulle Arsenal

Courtesy Jeff Hayes

Mre Impale de Mutzig  Impériale de Mutzig (until 1869) Arsenal

courtesy Michael Curran

Foreign suppliers who were sub contractors to  Cahen-Lyon in 1867 and 1868

 

Stehelin & Cie . Bitschwiller . Thanmanufacturer in Alsace 
Y.Funcke & Cie . HerdeckeGerman sword maker of Solingen area, Germany

courtesy Michael Curran

 
Defense Nationale government and beginning of Third Republic
   
up to 1871  
Mre Natle de St Etienne  

Courtesy Jeff Hayes

Mre Natle de Chatt 

courtesy Michael Curran

Mre Natle de Tulle  
71 to 73 just the arsenal name was used on its own  
   
St Etienne 

courtesy Michael Curran

Courtesy Jeff Hayes

Tulle 

Courtesy Harry Savage

   
Third Republic :
   
Mre d'Armes de Chatt Chatellerault

Courtesy Jeff Hayes

Mre d'Armes de St EtienneSaint Étienne

Courtesy Jeff Hayes

Mre d'Armes de Tulle.  
   
   

 

 Blades were marked with the full year of manufacture and the month,

September  was marked as 7bre

October was marked 8bre or Octobre

November was marked 9bre

December was marked Xbre or Decbre

Further markings found on the bayonet include

1) Right ricasso, Inspection and makers acceptance stamps

2) Left ricasso, a number indicating the metal lot.

3) Left crossguard, the serial number of the rifle with which the bayonet was issued. In theory  the same manufacturer made both the  rifle and the bayonet. However spare blades and complete bayonets were delivered from one manufacturer to another, with the bayonet being issued with an another manufacturers weapon. The number consists of a prefix letter (indicating the arsenal of the rifle/blade combination) and a number from 1 to 99,999

The prefixes are :

 

 A, B, and C

Chatellerault

<<This A is actually from the private arsenal in St Etienne (Courtesy Scott Ring)

D and E

Mutzig

<<<E (courtesy Michael Curran)

F to Q

St Etienne

<<<O on Stehlin made blade

R, S, and T

Tulle

<<S on PDL made blade

 

<<T - on cut down fighting knife

U and V

contracts to Cahen-Lyon, (non French supplied blades

<< U on Potts & Hunt

 

 

<<V marked

X

SN with X prefix are only theory bayonets (and guns) since 1874, in the case of the Mle 1866 bayonet they are theory bayonets for Artillery musketoon and foot gendarmerie. The sn itself, depending of the number indicate where the gun and bayonet have been marked as theory weapons, Chatellerault, 1 to 13000, St Etienne, 13001 to 26000, Tulle 26001 and up. (Many thanks to Pierre Renoux for this information)

<<CG marked (courtesy Michael Curran)

Z

Bayonets used as side arms (without rifles) , bandsmen, officer's orderlies and nurses, after 1900 to the police officers. Usually scabbards for these blades  are blued (note : the Z letter can be found stamped on the Remington sword bayonets as well).

<<Z mark on blade thought to be of Belgian manufacture

Double letters may also be found possibly indicating very high production numbers

<< AB marked (matching) serial (courtesy of Micheal Curran)

 Early production 1866 with the rivet in the second cordon, rather than the 3rd as in all later made ones. The date is not visible on the blade due to the surface corrosion, however it is probably prior to December 1866

 

 

4) The obverse side of the crossguard is sometimes stamped with another serial number which was with or without letter, the meaning is still unknown.

5) On the quillion, close to the finial is the acceptance stamp of the inspector and manufacturer. A Naval anchor can be found on the inside of the guard, this indicates bayonets used by Colonial troops and the Navy.

6) In the slot are digits and often a number with a letter prefix, these are  probably workshop production numbers. In the stud mortise are stamps and letters, even the steel  lock piece can be found marked

7) The scabbard is marked on the opposite side to the bridge is the same number as on the crossguard (sometimes ground off or cancelled before subsequent renumbering). When used by colonial or naval troops, an anchor was marked on the front side. On the olive filial, was another control stamp.

8)    Last recoded example reported on the Yahoo forum amongst the collectors was April 1875

Other Manufacturers blades

Cahen- Lyon were contracted, April 1867 for 100,000 rifles and bayonets. Funcke and Stehelin bayonets are certainly sub-contractors to this supply, plus other German and UK manufacturers.

 

  I have an example with the German style squared fullers with no markings at all on either the blade or the scabbard.

A&E Holler

German Manufacturer, this blade is marked St Etienne on the spine  (1867) and has an F serial on cross guard

courtesy of H Savage

AC seen on EBAY

Alex Coppel

<<Blades made by Alex Coppel in Solingen may have been supplied through Belgian or British suppliers. The AC scales are clearly evident This blade is actually not French, all French blades have leading letter/letters

 

<<This appears to have French inspection marks but the Serial is only 2 digits

courtesy Roy Anderson

Anchor

Anchor mark for colonial or naval use, marked Tulle Juillet 1874 with A serial

courtesy of R Williams

A.A & S

 

courtesy of C Baxter

Balloon

Gustav Felix, supposed to have provided blades for Tulle between 67 and 69, and Mutzig in 1868

<<X serialed

courtesy of R Williams

Balloon B

U serial

from  Robert Kolsch

Balloon over FW Marking

No picture

Noted as a German makers mark , not known if seen on Chassepots, possibly standing for Gustav Felix, Felix-Werk

Balloon over GW Marking

No picture

Noted as a German makers mark , not known if seen on Chassepots, possibly standing for Gustav Felix, Gloriawerk

Balloon over M marking

Gustav Felix, marked to Tulle

Bitsch

There are two variations to this marking

" Stehelin & cie.Bitschwiller.Than Mars 1868"
"Stehelin &cie  Bitschwiller Mars 1868"

Courtesy Jeff Hayes

Brescia

P in a circle and Brescia indicate an Italian made blade, is this French used or just another of the clones

from  Robert Kolsch

CC

X serial with CC in dotted circle and Maltese Cross between the C's

courtesy Roy Anderson

Coulax and Cie in Alsace has been suggested, as a possibility as Jacques Coulaux set up the Mutzig arsenal

CG

courtesy of H Savage

CG

CG spine marking reminiscent of the Reeves and William Milward markings

courtesy of R Williams

CG under crown

Unknown Maker, Richard Abbenbroek has this identified as Cooper Goodman via Anthony Carter,

<<V serial for Cahen Lyon contract

courtesy Roy Anderson

<<X serial for Theory blade

courtesy Michael Curran

CGK

Carl Gustav KRATZ - Stahlwarenfabrik - Solingen.

Courtesy Jeff Hayes

Christofle

Christofle contracted with Paris HQ during the Franco Prussian War Siege for 50000 bayonets (delivery for most of them after 1872). (Many thanks to Pierre Renoux for this information)

<< X serial for Theory blade

courtesy Roy Anderson

<<F serial For St Etienne

courtesy Michael Curran

GO

Courtesy Jeff Hayes

HC

Unknown, marking is on a German WWI converted 1866, no other markings

courtesy of Roy Williams

Japanese Used

Japan used the Chassepot rifle and bayonet, these were marked with the imperial MUM and Kanji script in the fuller. The blade is actually marked PDL but no serial

courtesy Roy Anderson

JUNG

JUNG made French 1866 Chassepot, it is not marked for French use but other than a serial in the cross guard there is no indication of the end user.

Kings Head

Weyersberg of Germany. Possibly subcontract blades, as they were making Yataghan blades for the UK blades of this period. Note this blade also has Colonial Anchor marking  courtesy of H Savage

<<The Weyersberg bayonets (kingshead) with naval anchor are not French issue but were made in Germany for Argentinean Naval Comblain rifle. SN has usually no letter and the anchor is not the French one style.  (Many thanks to Pierre Renoux for this information)

Knightshead

 

Kirschbaum of Germany

 

<<F70558 and back of blade is marked St Etienne 1867

courtesy Roy Anderson

Maltese Cross

Seen on blade Ricasso, subject of some discussion

MG Seen on EBAY with Maltese cross over stamping
Mre de Armes de F. Escoffier. St Etienne

 

<<< Spine inscription

 

<<A serial From the private arsenal in St Etienne

"director of St. Etienne had his own little workshop in the centre of the arsenal and produced a few bayonets on the side for personal gain. Records show he produced at least 4000 Remington styles for the city of Lyons and obviously some chassepots as this one is."

<< Inspection marks

 (Courtesy Scott Ring)

P

Unknown maker thought to be Belgian

P&H

Potts and Hunt. London gun makers: made 1866 Chassepot rifles for Cahen-Lyon & Cie.

Courtesy Roy Williams

PDL

<<PD Lunschloss, German manufacturer, Appears to have an H (St Etienne serial)

Courtesy of Ron

 

< U serial for Cahen Lyon contract. PDL mark is partially hidden so may have been just a blade supplied

courtesy Roy Anderson

 

<<Full PDL mark but no serial

courtesy Roy Anderson

Reeves

A long standing British manufacturer of bayonets for the British army, based in Birmingham

<<very basic Makers mark on the spine of the blade

 

<<Ricasso marked  courtesy Michael Curran

Schnitzler

German

courtesy of H Savage

Spanish made

Spanish made French 1866 chassepot

 

No markings other than this 8 on th epommel

 

All examples have a crude cross guard mounting and the cross guard is loose on all examples seen

 

 

Point of the blade is "heavier" and shorter than the other 1866's

 

Blade is thinner and has a rounded spine unlike all other Yataghan blades

 

Unmarked

This is my Defense Nationale blade with the brass insert instead of the rivet

WM on spine

William Milward, UK manufacturer

courtesy of H Savage

 

 

Defense Nationale 1866 ordered from the UK maker William Milward and sons, investigation has shown that they arrived to  late to take part in the Franco Prussian war, and were unpacked after the war. Most are found without any French Markings other than a serial number on the pommel end (not seen on this example). This is not a common maker

 

 

 

 

UK made model has a slightly smaller and rounder hilt

 

this results in what appears to be a shorter slot, examination shows the difference to all be behind the locking bar and due to the pommel shape

 

Chassepot related bayonets and other points of interest

Hunting

Brass cross guarded Chassepot, i have also seen these with arsenal marked blades

courtesy of Michael Curran

 ?

Any help appreciated

Quillion bent backwards over hilt grip - note from quillion finial which shows the quillion is bent and not that the cross guard has been reversed. Note also the twin cross stamps, one on the ricasso and one on the quillion.

Courtesy of J Maddox Collection

Any ideas gratefully accepted.

An unmarked 1866 style bayonet, which bears several small differences from standard French issue:

Blade is heavier being much thicker, with a completely flat spine, I am wondering if this is a modified 1842 type blade. Weight difference is noticeable on picking up the blade

 

Adjustment screw on the muzzle ring has square shoulders and not the rounded shoulders of a standard 1866

 

Ricasso is longer than any other example I have of the 1866 and fullers are earlier squared style

 

 

Cordons are deeper with much rounder profile

 

Quillion ball is less pronounced than normal

 

Slot appears shorter than normal 1866 but this is all down to a slightly shorter and more rounded pommel.

 

 ?

A French 1866 manufactured in 1868, the quillion has been bent backwards over the hilt but that is the only modification. I know of one more of these that came in a steel mounted leather scabbard - unfortunately this came without one.

Vendor reported that he had picked it up from a flea market in Argentina and delivery was from there, As most South American countries have little dealings with arms such as these I must assume that the bayonet came from there or possibly some other local country. Probably use as a side arm of some sort.

 

2nd Cordon Rivet

Early blades had the rivet closest to the cross guard in the 2nd rather than the 3rd cordon of the grips

courtesy of H Savage

The date is not visible on this blade due to the surface corrosion, however it is probably prior to December 1866

 

 

Defense Nationale

During the Siege of Paris in the Franco Prussian war, as an aid to production the bottom rivet was dropped. The hilt would still have a small indent on the right hilt that indicated the location of the rivet.

On this example from my collection the dimple has been carefully filled with a small brass plug, shaped to fit the hilt. Hardly seems like a true saving in production time. A discussion with Mery Christian has indicated that this may be a blade supplied to the equivalent of the home guard during the Franco Prussian War. Local town militia's armed them selves often with material rejected by the army

Defense Nationale bayonet using an 1866 style hilt and a re-used double edged sword blade

 

Chassepot style muzzle ring with cut out, and Remington style un chamfered slot

 

Bottom rivet is missing and shows only a dimple where the hole would be drilled

 

 

Serial on cross guard

 

Makers mark "U" on the ricasso

 

  

German usage (1)

The Germans took large numbers of the Chassepot bayonets in war reparations at the end of the Franco Prussian war, but not the rifles. Many of these blades were probably sold on (further confusing the identification issue). The Germans used the blades as side arms for rear echelon troops. Many Chassepots will be found with the scabbard modified by the addition of a German style frog stud rather than the French hoop.

 

<<<<Some of these blades will be found with German units markings on them courtesy of H Savage

German usage (2)

Modified to fit the GEW88 rifle the hilts of Chassepots will be found with the hilt machined down to fit. The machining can be found with a total machined hilt, or 1 or 2 steps. These Ersatz blades were made early in WWI before full scale production of the 98/05 was achieved

<This is actually a Chinese copy of the Chassepot with a hilt similar to that of German modified Chassepots, probably to fit the same rifle in use by the Chinese

German usage (3)

French 1866 converted by Germans to fit the GEW 88 rifle by stepping the hilt (EB106)

 

unfortunately the locking stud and spring is missing

 

 

 

 

and modifing the muzzle ring by counter sinking

 

 

and slightly narrowing the ring

 

Chinese

Recently a large number of copies of the 1866 with a heavily modified hilts have come out of China. The hilts have profiles similar to those of German modified blades for use on the GEW88 during WWI, but are obviously locally made. Note that these bayonets have German style frog studs as well, Note these blades are not sold as German ersatz blades.

Spurious markings on a Chinese 1866 copy, other similar blades can be found with actual arsenal markings

FILM (1)

A rubber copy made for the film Four Feathers, the cross guard markings of the original from which the mould was made can still be seen

FILM (2)

This Chassepot has been modified for film use, on an unknown firearm. The hilt ahs been fully machined (ala the German ersatz bayonets for the GEW 88, and the muzzle ring enlarged. Possibly to fit the Martini Henry bar on barrel rifle(?)

Unless otherwise stated the bayonets are from my own collection. Many thanks to those who have contributed so far

1866 Chassepot style bayonet with chamfered slot and with muzzle ring cut out

 

Blade is devoid of all inspection stamps or serial numbers

 

Only mark is P,H (F.H?) in the slot, one hypothesis is that this made be a Potts & Hunt demonstration piece as it is in near perfect condition