British 1903 Pattern Bayonet. Sanderson P1888 Conversion

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Rare British P1903 bayonet for the Mk1 III Short Magazine Lee Enfield (SMLE) rifle.

The P1903 design combined the P1888 blade and crosspiece with a new pommel design. Many 1903 pattern bayonets are actually P1888 bayonets that have been converted. This bayonet is an excellent example of a converted 1888.

The P1903 had a short service life as the blade wasn’t thought to be long enough, having less reach than most European bayonets when combined with the shorter Mk1 rifle. The P1903 was produced for British use from 1903–1907, at which time the P1907 was adopted.

This example is in excellent condition. The 306mm double-edged blade is bright and clean with its factory edge. The blade has a flattened diamond cross-section with a raised medial ridge and terminates in a spear point. The ricasso is stamped with the War Department broad arrow, bend test stamp and Sanderson inspection stamp.

The obverse ricasso bears a faint crown stamp of King Edward VII, the pattern date, 1903 and the original manufacture date of November 1899, indicating that this bayonet was originally an 1888 pattern. The maker’s details, Sanderson, Sheffield are stamped at the base of the ricasso and there are three further re-issue date stamps and three inspection stamps.

 The spine of the ricasso bears two Sanderson inspection marks. The bottom edge of the ricasso bears an Enfield inspection stamp.

The steel crosspiece and pommel retain their original polished finish with minimal age related marks. The pommel bears four regimental stampings corresponding to the re-issue dates on the ricasso. The unit markings are for the 2nd Battalion Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Regiment) and The Royal Irish Regiment, both of which have been cancelled. The obverse of the pommel bears the unit marking of the Royal Engineers and lastly, of the Forth & Clyde Yeomanry. The Forth & Clyde Yeomanry stamp most likely corresponds to the re-issue stamp dated to 1909 as this was a volunteer unit and the issue date is two years past the regular army’s adoption of the 1907 pattern bayonet.

The end of the pommel is stamped with the initials “SB & N,” indicating that the conversion from P1888 to P1903 was carried out by Sanderson & Neubold, the original manufacturers. The press-stud locking mechanism works perfectly. The wooden grip scales are in good condition with age and use related marks.

The black leather scabbard is in great condition. The steel furniture retains its original polished finish. The steel locket and chape bear inspection stamps and the leather is stamped with an EFD, Broad Arrow, Enfield inspection stamp and the date stamp for 1901. The stitching is intact and in good condition.

This is an excellent example of an increasingly hard to find British P1903 bayonet that had an active service life.


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