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Revolutionary War Sartine 1779 Pattern French Cutlass
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A very scarce French naval cutlass tightly dated to 1779-1783, making it a candidate for use by American privateers and warships such as the Bonne Homme Richard outfitting in French ports under the auspices of Benjamin Franklin, and for possible direct shipments over here, as well as for use at sea by our French allies in actions against the British. American warships and privateers certainly used a variety of locally made, imported, and captured cutlasses. Neumann felt this pattern was likely among those imported, and Gilkerson notes that it is even scarcer in France than the U.S.

This was wrongly called the 1782 pattern by Gilkerson (1991), who was followed by Neumann (1998,) though both authors admitted that such dates often only mark the formalization of existing styles for ordnance records. (Please see my last photo for Gilkerson's caution on taking his own dating of 1782 too precisely.) Petard (2006) properly designated it the Model 1779 based on a reference in the papers of Gribeauval, who also credits its design to Sartine, Minister of the Navy at the time. Further, Petard's list of manufacturers marks dates this example no later than 1783. See my photos for the relevant entries, numbers 4, 5, and 6 on the pages shown.

This cutlass also stylistically conforms to Petard's guidelines for the early version of the Sartine cutlass. The blade is slightly shorter and narrower than those used on the later versions of the model, and the two branches of the hilt join the knuckleguard independently, rather than joining one another and meeting the knuckleguard at only one point.

Dating the cutlass to no later than 1783 is the Small-Crown/R maker stamp on the blade and hilt. A version of this stamp with a larger crown was introduced at the Klingenthal royal manufactory in 1756 and used until 1776, when it was replaced by this, the R "a la petite couronne." Petard illustrates this version of the Small Crown/R as number 4, plate 117, page 256, and states it is the earliest of three variants, all of which were superseded in 1783 by a Crown/K stamp when other establishments were also given the royal imprimatur and the R for Rex or Roi was changed to a K for Klingenthal to designate this particular manufactory.

Overall length about 30 inches. Blade is 24 5/8 inches long; 1 7/16 inches wide at the guard. Single narrow fuller along the upper edge of the blade from the guard to about 6 inches of the tip. False edge extending back from the tip about 6 inches. Blade and hilt have some very slight play. Small crown/R stamp on the blade 1 1/8 inches from the guard. The same mark, but rubbed, is inside of the counterguard along the base line of the palmette. On the face of the guard on the front top lobe of the palmette is stamped an "I." Good point and edge with no nicks. Blade is smooth metal with a mix of steel gray and dark gray tones.

All in all, a very scarce naval weapon of the American Revolution.

US only please. Shipping $25.00 insured. NY addresses add sales tax. Thanks!

Gilkerson, Boarders Away, (1991) 1.78-79; Neumann, Battle Weapons, (1998) 186.SS; Petard, Le Sabre d'Abordage, (2006) 55-56.