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Old 23rd December 2012, 01:23 AM   #1
christek
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Question FRENCH MODEL 1850 FOOT OFFICERS SWORD

Greetings all!

I believe I have here, a German Made French Model 1850 Foot Officer's Sword. This model of sword/sabre was also in use in the United States army until 1872. This sword was made by Samuel Hoppe in Solingen, Germany. The ricasso is marked on the right side; ‘S. Hoppe FI Solingen’ with the Hoppe beehive mark. The spine is marked Manuf re Nlle de Chatellerault. Blade is in very-good condition with a dark patina. I cannot see any with French proof marks. This example features a single-edged 77 cm blade with what looks like a false edge (never been sharp) extending back from the point. The blade is 2.6 cm in width at the hilt. There are two fullers, one broad and running from the ricasso to within 4 cm of the spear style point and a shorter narrow one from the hilt at the back of the blade. The grips are wire bound Bakelite that may have been once covered with fish skin? Although the wire is still there (may have been replaced). The pommel is of the “Phrygian helmet pattern” (need confirmation?) And is decorated along its forward border with oak leaves? The knuckle-bow is ribbed and pierced for a sword knot where it joins the pommel. As it turns upward toward the blade it expands to form an oval counter-guard, the reverse of which is plain, the obverse side decorated with a pierced floral design. All metal parts of the hilt appear to be brass. This example is missing the scabbard.

Can anyone confirm the model? Or help me with my enquiries? I am also puzzled by the marking FI (or perhaps FH) next to the maker’s name.

Kind regards,
Chris


P.S I apologise for the photos, they are not the best. Will upload better pics if needed.
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Old 23rd December 2012, 06:40 AM   #2
Matt Easton
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It is indeed a French Model 1855 infantry officer's sword. The grip would not have been covered with fish skin - this is how it would always have been - and it is probably horn rather than bakerlite. This model of sword was replaced (generally, though not universally) in the French infantry in 1882, so your sword dates almost certainly to between 1855 and 1882.
Matt
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Old 23rd December 2012, 12:08 PM   #3
christek
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Hi Matt,

Thank you for the quick reply.

After further research regarding the grip, you are certainly correct that there was not a shagreen grip on the model 1855. There was one on the M1845 (the model I initially thought this may have been) that used ray, shark or seal leather, but this was not used on the M1855. I am still unsure of the material that consists of the grip; you may be correct suggesting horn. The markings on the spine have been suggested similar to the script used by Chatellerault in the 1850's using the Nl e (The French used 'superscript' small letters in their abbreviations) which stood for 'Nationale' after the abdication of King Louis-Phillipe and the beehive was the stamp used by Solingen maker Samuel Hoppe of Solingen 1827-1885 (thanks Jim ). So I agree that it is a certainty that this sword dates from 1855-85; I wish I could narrow it down even further! A shame that the relative norm of dating these swords on the spine was not utilised on this one!

Thanks again for your input.
Have a great festive season and all the best for the New Year!

Kind regards,
Chris
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Old 1st May 2013, 08:28 PM   #4
William V.
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Hello everybody,

even though the thread is a little bit older I have a question regarding the weapon...:
@ christek:
Is it possible for you to take a more detailed picture of the marking please? I may have a solution for your "FH" or "FI"-riddle.
And while you are at it, please take some pics of the spine markings, please.
Thanks in advance.

All the best

William

P.S.: If you are reading this Jim: A big fat hello again, long time since or last mails Where on earth are you hiding again
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Old 5th May 2013, 01:10 PM   #5
christek
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Default More pics

Hello William,

Thank-you for the interest regarding this sword. It is an older thread; but I am still (and always) looking for more information on this piece.

My good camera expired the other day, so I have taken these with my phone camera, I apologise for the fact these photos could be better. Regarding the makers stamp, I am still unaware of any relevance considering the mark that begins with an F to the right of the S.Hoppe. Additionally, I thought I would use this chance to explore the potential reasons behind the fact that this sabre has no armoury markings, I feel it perhaps slightly unusual that a military sword of this period would have no such markings. I have posted a photo of armoury stamps that mark the quillon of my 1866 chassepot bayonet. I have seen these stamps (or very similar ones) on other Model 1855 infantry officer's sabres and often ponder the reasons why my example would not be marked.

Any help you could give me to ascertain the possible history of this piece would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Kind regards,
Chris
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Old 7th May 2013, 02:47 PM   #6
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Hello,

thanks for the good pictures, they are absolutely ok for me.
I can't tell you why the weapon has no unit markings (or acceptance marks) but I have a guess...
Some weapons were private purchased, so they belonged to the (normally) officer and not to the unit. This practice was quite common in Germany.
Getting back to the marking, I can clarify this one: S. Hoppe Fils. The children (french: fils) of Samuel Hoppe took over his business and used this marking. If you look carefully you can still see the lower part of the letter "L". It's a quite rare marking (seen only one of them so far). Even though I have no idea why the firm S.Hoppe should have worked with a French manufacture. They had their own hammerworks...
So far from me, I hope I've been of some help.

All the best

William
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Old 9th May 2013, 12:54 AM   #7
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Hello William,

Thank you for the information, fantastic observation, this is very interesting! Regarding the unit markings/inspection marks, or rather the lack of, I agree that the most logical reasoning behind this lays with this being a private purchase. I always thought these were regulation officers sabres, so I wonder what advantage lies behind a private purchase, as an officer would be issued an identical sabre anyway?

Thank you for deciphering the makers mark, very interesting! I actually speak French quite well (my father is French) and it made great sense once pointed out. Indeed it would appear to be a rare mark, as I can not easily find others to research/compare. I thought I would mention, that FILS in French is actually translated to SON, so it would appear (and make sense) that Samuel Hoppe's son was the next manufacturer to take over the business. I wonder if the fact that this is a rare marking, means that the son either went into another business or decided to just stick with marking in his fathers name.

Thanks again for your help!

Kind regards,
Chris
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Old 9th May 2013, 03:06 PM   #8
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Hello Chris,

in fact the father never used the beehive as his marking. The son Ferdinand Hoppe (who took over the business) got it in 1847 by marriage to a Julia Köller, I suppose as part of the dowry. Since then the marking was used by S. Hoppe and Son(s).
And regarding the epee itself: I think it was personal fashion to wear his own weapon rather then a regimentally issued one. I'm not sure (I collect fencing and dueling weapons, so the military is not my area) but I think that an officer wanted to show his wealth when carrying a personal weapon belonging to him. And of course he could take it home as a souvenir of his time in the military....

So far for today

All the best

William
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Old 23rd May 2013, 02:53 PM   #9
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Great information on the Hoppe business. Would the elder have marked his blades just S H ? That would explain to me why the bee hive mark would not have appeared earlier in the 19th century and also connect the S H properly for my own studies of eaglehead pommel swords.

Cheers

GC
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Old 3rd October 2013, 08:13 PM   #10
William V.
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Hello (again),

sorry for the long silence, I've just stumbled over this thread again and wanted to answer your question Hotspur:

I don't know if Samuel Hoppe used the SH marking. It may be possible. Another option would be Simon Helvig. I'd bet on Hoppe. But the Solingen city archives have so far not given me any answers to this question (which I was asking myself too) so far.

All the best

William
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