This rare and beautiful Napoleonic naval officers dirk comes from a period in French history known as the Directory-Consulate Period. The Directory (le Directoire) was a five-member committee that replaced the Committee of Public Safety as the governors of France. The Directory governed for only four years before being overthrown by Napoleon on 2nd November 1795. Despite its short reign, the Directory gave its name to the final four years of the French Revolution.
Following on from the Directory, the Consulate period, (itself only lasting four years), saw Napoleon Bonaparte establish himself as the First Consul of France before finally declaring himself Emperor in May, 1804. During the working life of this naval dirk, the French navy fought two of the most famous 18th/19th Century naval battles against the Royal Navy led by Admiral Nelson, namely the Battle of the Nile in 1798 and the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. These battles shattered French naval might, forcing Napoleon to limit his empire building to mainland Europe.
The 357mm double-edged blade has a flattened diamond section terminating in a narrow spear point. The blade is engraved with gilded trophies of arms and floral and foliate sprays on a blued background. Good traces of the gilding and blueing remain. The blade is in very good condition, free from rust or damage, but showing minor sharpening scratches on the bottom third of the blade. This dirk was clearly intended for active service and not just dress purposes.
The bronze hilt mounts retain traces of gilding (cleaning may show more). The down-turned crosspiece has eagle head finials and an anchor centrepiece on one side and a wave or scale-like pattern on the obverse. The fluted ivory grip is in excellent condition with only a minor chip at the pommel end. The oval pommel shows a flower head in relief with the peened tang at its centre.
The dirk is complete with its original steel scabbard with brass throat, bands and suspension rings. The scabbard is in very good condition with a good age patina.
This is a rare French naval dirk from a pivotal period of European history.