The Forgotten Faschinenmesser

Larmo

New member
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The Faschinenmesser (Fascine Knife) is a metal handled short sword issued to foot troops to be used as a tool for fortification construction, or last ditch personal weapon for protection. The practice of an Infantry edged weapon (beyond the issue socket bayonet) dates back at least to the early 18th Century and an assortment of types were used by many European nations of the era. Developed no doubt as an additional weapon/tool to complement the cumbersome, slow firing, muzzle loading muskets then in universal service. The German states displayed a particular fondness for these sidearms, even after the development and issue of the rapid firing, breech loading Dreyse Zundnadelgewehr in 1841. I believe they remained in general service until the issue of the M1871 Mauser pattern breech loader in 1874. The brass handled sword bayonet, M1871 provided double service use and rendered the Faschinenmesser redundant for general Infantry issue. However, as period photographic evidence provides, many of the ancient Faschinenmesser remained in Imperial arsenals and saw active service with the Kaisers armies up to and including WWI.

Presented for your inspection are five examples of the issue Faschinenmesser as used by foot troops of several German Kingdoms of the mid 19th Century. In my view, these interesting old weapons live in a collectors purgatory of sorts, too short to be a proper sword and no accommodation to fit upon a rifle or musket, they live outside two of the main edged weapon categories sought by collectors today. Nonetheless, at one time weapons similar to these were worn on the belts of soldiers who stood their ground at Mars-La-Tour and advanced up the long slope at St. Privat.

That other patterns exist is a certainty, however these five seem to be (from my observations at collector shows and online sites) are the ones most often encountered today. However, to quote Colonel Joe, “I don’t know, what I don’t know” as I have little available information regarding them in my own library. So Pickelhaube Pals, I ask those of you with more knowledge than I regarding these wonderful old sidearms to help me identify them as to model. Before we have our look, I just want to mention that the type designation means nothing than my listing attempt, certainly done in a random order. In addition the original photographs used, illustrate the difficulty (at least mine thus far) to find a clear photograph of these in wear. The one great exception is of the Bavarian soldier who has proudly hefted his Type 1 around to the front for view. Most often we have to be content with a glimpse of the hilt to determine the pattern the soldier has been issued with.


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Type 1. This is the most massive of the five being examined. A 19 inch, polished steel blade with a flat edge spine and a machete shaped blade. Weight, 3.2 pounds. Cast brass hilt with a straight guard and a slight S curve to the ends. On the obverse ricasso is the royal Cypher for Friedrich August II, King of Saxony 1836-1854 and on the reverse the makers logo of P.D.L. The blade is well used, showing a poor sharpening attempt, scattered corrosion pitting and a sizable nick in its cutting edge. In spite of these defects, the weapon is interesting in that the two sets of unit markings found on guard and scabbard throat match one another. Most often these weapons are found where the unit markings are mismatched, or worse, not unit marked at all. In this instance, the units displayed are 12.P.64.4 (1st Royal Saxon Pioneer Btln Nr 12, 4th Co. 64th Weapon), a unit founded in 1849. This designation has been lightly struck out, with the second issue stamp being 32.A.H.121. Using Jeff Noll’s book “The Imperial German Regimental Marking” as a guide, this unit may be, 32nd Artillery-Artificer (italicized H) Company or Battalion, 121st weapon. The image of the Saxon Artilleryman shows him wearing this pattern weapon on his belt, note the shape of the guard and hilt.

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Type 2. In general design this model is quite similar to a Type 1, yet is nearly a pound lighter in weight (2.4 instead of 3.2) with a slightly shorter and less massive blade. Again a cast brass hilt with a more pronounced S curve to the guard. As with Type 1, this weapon is unit marked but to separate regiments. The two Infantry Regiments identified are both Saxon Regiments, the 105th & 107th. Could it be that the more massive weapon was issued to troops most employed in heavier work? Pioneers and Artillery for example and the lighter weight weapons issued to Infantry? In a very unscientific poll (by my observations), it appears that a good deal of the Faschinenmesser of type 1 and 2 seen for sale today generally have Saxon unit markings. Though period photography shows Bavarian troops issued with a similar pattern.

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Type 3. The third and final example of this design, is this steel handled Faschinenmesser attributed to the Kingdom of Wurttemberg. The lightest of the three at two pounds even. It features an 18.5 inch polished steel blade with a false edge running 5 inches back from the tip. Its scabbard is also steel mounted and the black leather covering extends over the scabbard end with a steel ball tip finial. It also bears several sets of unit markings. One on the scabbard leather 124.R.1.224 (6th Wurttemberg Infantry Nr.124) and on the steel guard and scabbard stud 13.A.F.H.36 (Handwerker Abteilung des Fuss-Artillerie-Regiments 13). In addition several other numbers can be seen which likely are serial or property numbers. However a stamping found on the guard may be a date of 6.71. Of these three Faschinenmesser, this steel mounted example is the most scarce in my opinion.

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Type 4. This pattern seems to be the most commonly encountered today and I have seen it referred to as the M1864. I also feel it is the last of its type to be adopted by the Imperial Army. The weight is 2.2 pounds, with a slightly curved rather than straight 17 ¼ inch steel blade, cast brass hilt and S-shaped guard. Maker marked V.Jung & S. SUHL on the ricasso. In addition, the guard is unit marked 94.R.10.121 and is Crown FW proofed and dated 68. The scabbard is usually of black leather with a brass throat and chape. Obviously, this scabbard is missing something here, but it is included because the leather body is also Crown FW proofed and dated 67. This blade and this scabbard were together at the time of our purchase.

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Type 4a. This is an identical example to the Type 4 faschinenmesser, complete with a properly dressed scabbard with its brass fittings. In addition a unique leather suspension system is shown, used perhaps for mounting onto a horse harness or supply wagon of some sort. This blade is Crown proofed W 72.

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Type 5. The last of our series and the most difficult of the patterns for me to find thus far. Which probably means nothing at all, just my run of collectors luck. This pattern is sometimes seen referred to as the M1849. Weight, 2.2 pounds with a straight 18 ½ inch polished steel blade, cast brass hilt and S-shaped guard. Black leather scabbard with brass trim. Matching unit markings on guard and scabbard throat, 32.R.4.11. In addition, a Crown FW proof and date of 57 can also be clearly seen on the guard and base of the blade spine, Maker marked to S&K.

Cheers....Larmo

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drakegoodman

New member
Yes - excellent article =D> I'll save this to my E-references, might spare my Roy Williams' books some wear and tear.
 

Chip Minx

New member
Larry,

Pietsch calls the one with the leather carrier a "Feldartillerie Seitengewehr (Faschinenmesser) U/M".

He calls the one with the "swirled" brass handle the "Seitengewehr M48"

For what it's worth.

Chip
 

Larmo

New member
Thanks Guys....glad you found it worthwhile. Sorry I do not have the exact designiations on these weapons but I am working on that.

Chip Thanks. The old Hicks book published in 1968 shows the swirled handled one ID'd as the Artillerie Faschinenmesser M1849, although period photography shows Infantry issued with it too. The type 1 or 2 examples as the Infanterie Faschinenmesser 1840 and the type 4 as Faschinenmesser U/M no year designator. I ordered Pietch vol.1, should have bought that long ago. Onward and upward.

Larry
 

Larmo

New member
I warned you guys that if any other additional examples of this pattern of weapon came my way, I would add them here, so here you are.

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These three recent acquisitions to the collection are courtesy of a local gentleman who has been collecting edged weapons for over 40 years. He has now reached an age were he has decided to downsize a bit. A decision we all will have to make one day. They are very welcome additions to the ever-growing pile of Faschinenmesser and as with the others, I have found little information available regarding them, any research suggestions forum members may have would be greatly appreciated.
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First up is this big boy, a massive 24 inch steel blade with a sawback spine and a false edge running 7 inches back on the top of the blade. Heavy brass hilt, similar to an 1849 pattern but with very pronounced langets on each side. No visible markings anywhere, Pietsch identifies this as a Pioniere & Verkehrstruppen Faschinenmesser, 1856 and is illustrated on page 187, figure 13.
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Next is an apparent Bavarian Pioneer model with Infantry unit markings. I guess Pioneer because of the sawback spine. The polished steel blade blade measures 18.5 inches with an overall length of 25 inches including scabbard. It is regimentally marked on the cross guard 12.R.R.8.9. With a similar regiment marking seen on the scabbard tip but with a different company and weapon number. Faintly stamped into the scabbard body just below the throat is an additional set of unit marks and what appears to be a date of 1872. The scabbard is certainly interesting as the Bavarian Army entrusted this rather thin brass loop riveted to the scabbard body to act as a suspension point for carry. The period CDV image provides an illustration of how this weapon was carried by the soldier. The scabbard slipped down into the frog and a short buckled strap slipped through the brass side loop and provided support for the weight.
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Our third and final example looks for all the world to be a standard 1864 pattern weapon. However the spine date is clearly 37. The blade design is identical to the others previously shown of this style but a blade spine date 27 years prior to the model designation. The unit mark is the 6th Train Battalion, weapon number 70. Jim Turinetti’s book “Imperial German Headgear, A Field Guide”, tells us the 6th Train Battalion was established in 1853.

That’s all till next time, hope you enjoy them.

Larry
 

Larmo

New member
Many thanks, still a work in progress, I'm glad you enjoyed it and thanks for saying so.....

Larry
 

-dick rowback

New member
Larmo; Great information!I have a "type 5" Faschinenmesser. On mine the spine is date is a 12 with what looks like a "Gothic" W [it is unit marked to Wuttemberg Field Artillery]. Was this just restamped in 1912 ? Just looking for anymore history on these fine weapons/tools. Cheers Dick
 

Larmo

New member
Dick, thanks very much, glad you enjoyed it and thanks also for saying so.

Here is my third installment of this little essay and this time it is a Saxon issue FM of a pattern of which I have never seen prior. Of course after purchasing this one I found another example for sale on the net, however that example is without a scabbard. Happily this one has its original scabbard and displays matching unit numbers guard to scabbard throat.

A brief general description follows, 25 inch polished steel blade, flat on one side, fuller on the opposite. Maker marked GEBR. WEYERSBERG SOLINGEN on the ricasso. Very unusual shaped blade for a German edged weapon. Plain steel guard with unit marks on the reverse side. Unusual grip construction of a brown Bakelite, two piece grip, secured with three flush surface steel rivets with brass washers, partially ribbed brass pommel.

The brass and leather scabbard is quite sound with tight stitching along the reverse side, matching unit numbers on the throat of 32.A.2.42 (Royal Saxon 3rd Field Artillery Regiment Nr.32) with another unit number above which has been crossed out. Five crown E proofs can be found, an example of which can be seen on the scabbard throat just above the securing staple.

The blade spine is crown A proofed (King Albert of Saxony, 1873-1902) with an issue date of 1880. The photo showing this pattern with a type 4, or M/1864 FM, gives a good idea of the extra long blade this weapon has, really unique looking.

I spoke at length with the gentleman offering the other example for sale. He said that he has had a few others in years past but knew little about them other than they all tended to be Saxon proofed. I was happy to hear that from an advanced collector as I have no clue beyond the obvious about the weapon.

So guys, here is another one to mull over, any thoughts?

Cheers….

Larmo

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Larmo

New member
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Greetings All, here is my latest acquisition to the growing pile of Faschinenmesser with an example which is likely familiar to many of you, the Bavarian pattern 1892 Artillery Seitengewehr. I have been fortunate to own several of these over the years with all of them being swapped or sold off for other more seemingly needful acquisitions. This particular example came from the aforementioned older collector and is a very sound example with a pleasing mellow patina to the brass fittings. It features an 18 inch yataghan shaped blade with a polished steel finish. The unit markings do match by regiment number at least so that is a plus. The blade is very clean with a crown L cypher and an acceptance date of 1893 on the spine. Photographic evidence exists which proves the issue and use of these weapons during the Great War.

I have shown for comparisons sake, an 1869 pattern Bavarian Werder bayonet with an identical length and shaped blade. It is quite likely that the frugal elements in the Bavarian War Department recycled Werder bayonet blades for the construction of the new 1892 Artillery short swords.

It appears that I may have reached the end of the journey on these weapons and wonder if any of you would have an interest in seeing examples of other countries similar era short swords? In some cases they are even of German manufacture.

Cheers for now….

Larmo
 

Larmo

New member
Thanks Badner, I’ll give it a go, for now let’s start with a few from Franz-Joseph’s Army prior to WWI. These examples shown here are by no means the final word in what patterns were used or issued, they just represent a few that have floated by in the collecting stream recently.

First up is this example of an Austrian M1832/59 NCO Sword with scabbard. It features a 25.5 inch polished steel curved blade which is well marked on the ricasso and dated 1859. It has a simple steel guard with a wrapped leather grip and leather covered scabbard. What I particularly find interesting about this old fellow is that it was around for the Italian War against the French in 1860 and the war with Prussia in 1866 and is unit marked to the 29th Regiment.

Next up is this rather massive Austrian 1853/89 Issue Pioneer Sword. It is armed with an 18 inch steel blade with a single fuller on the obverse side of the blade, flat on the reverse. It has a large steel guard, and horn covered grips. There is a makers logo and Austrian proof on the blade and a unit marking of 3DAR and perhaps a serial or rack number of 1345. An amusing side note to this pattern is the fact they were offered for sale in the 1925 Bannerman’s catalog (with scabbard) for $2.95. They were advertised as the type of sword used by German Artillerymen at Waterloo.

Our third example is a walking out pattern of the 53/89 Pioneer Sword. Less massive with a very bright chrome finished steel blade with black hard rubber grips and leather covered scabbard. It is very well made but is without any markings at all.

All for now….

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Larmo

New member
Greetings All..

In my sixth installment of this little exercise regarding Faschinenmesser, this time let’s examine a few interesting French types. As I have stated with previous listings, this is by no means comprehensive as to type and variety. These four discussed here merely represent the few examples currently in our own collection. There are many more interesting variants used by the French Army during the late 18th and well into the 19th Century. In addition there may be a surprise here for some of you as to their variety of troops issued these weapons. It has been a learning experience for me as well but I suppose that is the essence of collecting after all.
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First up a Modele de l’An XI Infantry Briquet, a rather antiquated pattern which saw widespread use by many European Armies during most of the 19th Century. The weapon features a cast brass single branch guard with a 23 inch polished steel blade without fullers. On the spine of the blade we can see that the blade was produced at the Royal Arsenal at Klingenthal in February of 1816 and assembled outside Paris by the name VERSAILLES stamped into the curve of the guard.
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The weapon is as we purchased it, however using the excellent collectors reference “Les Sabres Portes Par L’Armee Francaise” by Lhotse & Resek, it may be that this example has an incorrect pattern scabbard. The example shown as figure 415, page 236 of the Lhotse & Resek book shows a standing brass loop rather than an oval stud for the frog attachment. Foolish me, I didn’t pay attention in French class as I should have, so my translating skills are below minimal at best so really can‘t say for sure. I do however enjoy the idea that this weapon is of a pattern used by Napoleon I’s Grande Armee.

Next, Foot Artillery issue, Glaive d’Artillerie a’ Pied, modelle 1816. Based on the Roman Gladius, it features a 19 inch steel blade with a rather unique set of three rectangular fullers on each side. The blade was manufactured at the Royal Arsenal at Klingenthal in August of 1831 and has a cast brass grip with fishscale design made by the German firm of PDL (Peter D. Luneschloss ).

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Number three may be a surprise for some of you as it was for me, as it is an Infantry issue weapon. Glaive des troupes a’ pied, modele 1831. If I may digress a bit, over the past years it seemed whenever I observed, referred to or saw offered for sale in the USA this pattern and the previous pattern sword they seemed to be generally lumped together regardless of differences and simply referred to as a French Artillery Sword. This urban legend designation was in my opinion influenced by the French pattern sword adopted by the US Army in 1833 (more on that one in another installment).

This weapon, as with its Foot Artillery brother, features a 19 inch double edged steel blade, however this time the surface is plain without fullers. In addition, it has a very different ribbed brass grip with concentric rings cast into the ends of the guard. The name Coulaux on the ricasso refers to the Coulaux Freres who were private contractors who used the arsenal facilities for production during slow work periods there. The Coulaux family were the most successful of the private entrepeneurs at Klingenthal from 1801 until 1962.
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The French infantryman has a well-deserved reputation for being burdened with a heavy load of government issued impedimenta. This is well illustrated in this period image of three Voltigeurs de la Garde, struggling up a steep embankment at Chalons in 1857. Note the earlier style of baldric-type suspension used to carry the short sword. This pattern gave way to a white buff leather belt frog as with our example. This frog was worn on the belt next to the socket bayonet. Both types of suspension are shown being used by Garde Grenadier and Voltigeur troops in the colored plates courtesy of the gorgeous tome, “La Garde Imperiale de Napoleon III” by Delperier, Jouineau and Malvaux.

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Upon the adoption of the Modele 1866 Chassepot Rifle and its elegant Yataghan blade bayonet, the 1831 Infantry foot sword became redundant. No doubt many of them remained in arsenals and forts with some likely seeing service during the 1870-71 War. However, the Chassepot bayonet did double duty if you will, it being a short sword and bayonet combined. If nothing else, it lessened the load for the French infantryman.

Our last weapon to be examined is in many ways my favorite of the four. In general appearance it is similar to an 1831 Foot pattern sword. Its blade has been shortened considerably with a well used surface and very sharp edges. It resides in a handmade and hand tooled leather sheath which has strong Mexican influences. In my opinion this weapon came to Mexico during the French Intervention 1861-1866, somehow coming into the possession of a Mexican Liberale who modified it for his own use. At any rate, I’d like to think so…..

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Cheers Guys

Sources Used

Les Sabres Portes Par L’Armee Francaise, Lhotse & Ressek
La Garde Imperiale de Napoleon III, Delperier, Juneau & Malvaux
A Brief History of Klingenthal Blade Manufacturing by Jean Binck http://users.skynet.be/euro-swords/klingenthal.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
 

Larmo

New member
The Forgotten Faschinenmesser, An Update

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Greetings Guys

It has been awhile since I have done an update on the original posting regarding the Faschinenmesser, however some recent additions to the collection and a news of a terrific new information source has come to hand which prompts this update.

Perhaps the most important piece of news I would like to to share regarding these old weapons is a book entitled “Faschinenmesser” by Wofgang Peter-Michel, published by Books On Demand, http://www.bod.de" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;.

My becoming aware of this books existence is a bit of a fun story in itself and illustrates in a small way the power of the internet and most importantly the value of friends. While visiting another online militaria forum, I happened to view a thread regarding the collector’s Fair held at Ciney Belgium last Spring. A thoughtful attendee was kind enough to post a number of photos of the event and on one particular book dealer’s table I was able to see the cover of this book for sale. How to get a copy? Happily for me, my friend KP Emig of Bunker Militaria contacted the author, ordered a copy (bought one for his own library as well) and sent it on to me in Arizona.

It is a German language text, well illustrated with numerous photographs and drawings dealing with the assorted models of Faschinenmesser issued by Prussia, Saxony, Bavaria and Wurttemberg from 1787 until 1892, done in a chronological order of issue by acceptance year.

This is the first book I have encountered which deals exclusively with Faschinenmesser. It will not be the final word regarding the subject (what book is), but it certainly answered a number of questions I had and provided some very interesting information regarding examples in my own collection and patterns of other Faschinenmesser of which I wasn’t even aware existed.

I have taken a new series of photos of the previously discussed weapons in this thread and will provide dating and model designations shown in Michel’s book below each. So here goes…

Cheers :thumb up:

Larmo






Ok, first a new one to the collection..purchased at the last SOS in Louisville in 2014. Michel identifies this as Prussian Fusilier-Faschinenmesser M1787 a/A. When first issued it had a brass finger loop on the left side of the grip. These loops were removed at a later date (they must have been a nuisance) leaving a tell-tale groove in the grip. The scabbard is distinctive in that it is fully encased in black leather with a brass ball tip. Our example is regimentally marked to J.R.58.



The steel mounted example is identified as a Wurttemberg Infanterie-Faschinenmesser M1829. It is shown next to the Prussian M1787 for size comparrison.

The central photo illustrates the following from left to right, Prussian Gardepioneer Faschinenmesser M1841, Prussian Infanterie Faschinenmesser M1852 this example issued to the IR 32 and is blade dated 1857, lastly Prussian Faschinenmesser M1864 U/M. Certainly the most commonly encountered example today, this weapon was issued to the East Asia Artillery with an 1890 date on it's scabbard frog. Wurttemberg also had a steel hilted weapon nearly identical to the Prussian M1864. Saw one pass by on EBAY but I was outbid. It is also known as an 1864 U/M.

The right hand photo shows a pair of Saxon examples, a Model 1845 on the left and it's slightly less massive brother on the right identified as an Artillerie-Faschinenmesser M1849, but in this particular instance unit marked to IR 100. Both weapons made by P.D.L.



The image on the left displays a fairly scarce example, that of a Saxon Artillerie-Faschinenmesser M1879. I placed a Prussian M1864 U/M next to it for size comparrison.

Next up in the center photo, two Bavarians, on the left the M1830 with saw edge, also issued with a plain spine. On the right side the Artillerie-Faschinenmesser M1892.

The right hand photo shows a variety of Pioneer Faschinenmesser M1865-1871. I did not include these initially as they are a dual purpose weapon, being both a bayonet and a tool. However in Michel's book numerous examples are discussed so here some are for viewing. The left most bayonet is the Wurttemberg M1871, a break from tradition of sorts in that the grip is made of brass instead of steel. It displays an additional unique feature in that the blade shape is very similar to French shortswords of the era. Next, a Bavarian M1871 Pioneer Faschinenmesser, it's distinctive feature is that the cutting edge begins 120 mm below the underside of the guard. The final two are Prussian examples, first a M1865-71, the muzzle ring narrowed after the Franco-Prussian War for the 1871 rifle, this example is blade dated 1867. The fourth bayonet is a true M1871 but manufactured quite late, the blade spine is dated 1904.



This final image shows the differences in the cutting edges of the Bavarian example on the left and the Prussian on the right.

Well guys that's about it until some new treasure comes my way. Hope you enjoyed it and it is of some use to you..
 
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