This is a rare and unusual Italian sabre. The three, rounded bar guard appears to be the forerunner to the standard M1888 guard and hilt with a grooved horn grip, oval pommel with flattened oval tang nut and smooth steel back strap with a flat, cross-hatched thumb rest to the front and a typically Italian thumb recess below the quillon. The narrow, rounded bars on this early model became flatter and wider with subsequent production models.
The guard bears several stamps, the flat tang nut being marked with a “Z” over “19,” this same letter and number combination appears on the right-hand side of the front of the guard near the ricasso and on the underside of the thumb recess. “290” is stamped inside the thumb recess and the letter “T” is on the front of the guard to the left of the ricasso. The number “2” is stamped below the quillon.
The unusual 87.5cm curved blade is single edged and sharp and the first 30cm of the top edge is also sharpened. The blade is 25mm at the ricasso with a flat spine with foliate engraving and a wide, shallow fuller on both sides. The single fuller becomes a double fuller 32.5cm from the tip. The narrow double fullers are 25cm long and terminate 7.5cm before the point. The blade narrows to a very sharp point after the fullers terminate.
Both sides of the blade are heavily etched with trophies of arms amidst foliage. The left side of the blade shows oak leaves surrounding a drum, musket with fixed socket bayonet and a sword below a crowned eagle with a shield on its breast containing a cross. Above the eagle, amidst oak leaves is another trophy of arms showing crossed sabres and a horn fouled with tasselled ropes above which is more intricate scroll-work.
The right side of the blade shows laurel leaves surrounding a breast plate and swords above which is a flaming torch amidst leaves and berries. Above this is a coat of arms below a radiant star. Another trophy of arms appears above this with crossed swords and a musket followed by more foliate scroll-work. The spine of the blade is also engraved with a foliate design.
The blade is in good condition with an even grey patina and areas of darker tarnish. The blade is firm in the hilt.
This is an interesting and unusual sword. In all honesty I have never seen one like it and have not been able to establish its exact pattern date, hence my belief that it is a prototype to the M1888.