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The 1859 Enfield bayonet was modified at various points during the 19th century to accommodate the Martini-Henry rifle. This is one of the modifications, found in Skennerton's book, and falls somewhere between the modification of 1871 (with a fully straightened blade) and that of 1886, where the shape of the old curved blade was largely retained.
This is a Solingen built piece, having the 'S' stamped in the spring channel on the pommel, together with serial numbers matching those on the back of the spring. The 'S' stamped on the pommel was there as the approval indicator of the British ordnance inspection team at Solingen. There are, however, no other remaining markings on the piece. It is possible that, as its provenance is from South Africa, it was issued at some point to their embryo colonial navy and all existing markings were polished off (they would originally have been quite lightly stamped at the base of the blade).
The scabbard seam has shrunk and there is considerable loss to the stitching, but this is not obviously apparent, for, at first glance, the seam appears to be intact; it's only on careful examination and probing, that it becomes apparent. The black calf leather, however, is sound and the grip, in particular, is in magnificent shape. There is a small crack on the right hand of the bayonet bar under the grip, which appears to possibly be a construction fault as there is no visible distortion of the bayonet bar itself. The condition of the blade (which is 25.5 inches long) is generally excellent and, unlike many of these conversions, this one appears to retain its original curve; the only straightening apparent being in the loss of metal on the back edge, which has clearly been done to lighten the weight of the blade. 50,711 examples of the 1857/59 cutlass bayonets are known to have been converted for the M-H rifle, out of an initial production of over 80,000 pieces.
The muzzle ring diameter is 18mm - exactly the right requirement for the RN Martini-Henry. The crosspiece of this item is a completely fresh piece of steel - there is no bushing to the muzzle ring. This detail is discussed in Skennerton's British and Commonwealth Bayonets.
Compared to the 1804 pattern cutlass, this model in all its variants is probably the rarest of all the RN cutlass patterns.