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Old 4th December 2021, 02:39 AM   #1
Cathey
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Default French Mounted Constabulary Officers Sabre?

Hi Guys

Rex and I picked this sword up with a number of British cutlasses. The owner was of the view that it was a French Naval Officer’s cutlass. However, the only French sword I could find in PETARD Michel Des Sabres Et Des Epees Vol 3 Tome Troisieme that had all of the unique guard features that this one has is illustrated as Plate 336.

When I translated the French text it appears to be Gendarmerie sabers 1st Republic. The full descriptor for Plate 336, google translates as Officer's saber with bronzed iron mount enhanced with gold on its sides. Wood and leather handle, silver filigree with golden ribbon. Cap tail and virnle. 63 cm by 5 cm Montmorency blade at the heel, finely engraved with patterns martial arts and arabesques, blued and gilded. Mixed suspension scabbard lined with bronzed iron with gilded threads.

I am never completely confident in Google translations and was hoping someone might have come across one of these previously and confirm what it actually is. The blade width is over 2” and quiet short at 23 5/8”. It certainly does look more like a cutlass than a sabre.

Cheers Cathey
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Old 4th December 2021, 09:09 AM   #2
Radboud
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Great sword you have there Cathey. I had a look in my book on Gendarmerie arms, but unfortunately several of the earlier types listed don't have a corresponding image. Although the impression I get is that they typically carried standard army swords most of the time.

I personally don't think this is mounted constabulary, the blade is too broad for a cut down cavalry sabre, I'd say it's an infantry sword. Other than that it's difficult to pin down, there is a remarkable amount of variation in French swords of the mid 18th to early 19th Century. If I was to guess though, I'd date your sword to pre First Empire because of the flat un-fullered blade.

Here are a couple of pages from 'Les Sabres portes par L'Armee Francaise' by Jean L'Hoste and Patrick Resek:

(P.S. Don't feel bad about struggling to translate the French texts, my wife is French and she struggles to translate the books for me as well. Constantly needing to read extra to get the context correct.)
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Old 4th December 2021, 10:06 AM   #3
kronckew
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I would not be surprised if an astute Naval Officer (UK or French) had 'appropriated' one of these for use aboard ship as a fighting, rather than parade, sword.
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Old 4th December 2021, 09:48 PM   #4
Cathey
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Default French Mounted Constabulary Officers Sabre?

Thanks guys, taking a second look at the blade apart from being crazy wide it is also flat with no fuller. I have attached the picture plate 366 from PETARD Michel Des Sabres Et Des Epees Vol 3 Tome Troisieme Pp 128-123 Plate 336.

You may be correct about infantry, I did look at LHOSTE Jean, & RESEK Patrick LES SABRES PORTÉS PAR L'ARMÉE FRANÇAISE first but missed the guard examples on page 325, 372 & 373. Or perhaps I glossed over them because the blade did not fit.

What ever it is it would have been very attractive in its day. It would be great to see another example in better condition for comparison. I agree that it would be perfect for Naval use so even if that is not what it was made for it may well have been repurposed to use by a Naval Officer.

Cheers Cathey
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Old 5th December 2021, 07:37 AM   #5
Radboud
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Hi Cathy,

It could very well have been a navy officers sword. Just without any defining characteristics like an anchor motif it’s anyone’s guess. Still a nice exotic early sword.

Cheers
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