Rare double maker, German WW1 S98/05 m.S. Saw-back “Butcher’s Blade” Bayonet.
This S98/05 m.S was made in 1917, and would have been one of the last produced. The bayonet has two rare makers, Gebruder Hartkopf of Solingen and Walter & Co., of Muhlhausen, and is marked accordingly on both sides of the ricasso. Walter & Co. were machinists, so presumably were conscripted to aid the war effort and were tasked with manufacturing blades. The unpolished blades would have been passed on to Gebruder Hartkopf for finishing and hilt assembly. Bayonets with twin makers are much harder to find than those made by the regular manufacturers. The spine bears the date stamp “17” and a crown over the letter “W” and an inspection stamp. The crosspiece is stamped with regimental numbering.
The 366mm blade is in excellent condition with no rust and minimal speckles of tarnishing.
The wooden grip scales are in good condition. Being of 1917 production, the hilt has a steel flash guard and shortened “ears.” The pommel is stamped with an inspection mark (waffenampt) and the press-stud locking mechanism works perfectly.
The steel scabbard is original to the bayonet and retains its original black finish. The throat and ball finial of the scabbard are stamped with waffenampt inspection marks. The scabbard is in overall good condition with one minor, shallow dent on the back. The bayonet draws and sheathes smoothly and is held firmly within the scabbard.
A Brief History of the S98/05 Bayonet.
The S98/05 bayonet was typical of German bayonets of the period in that it only had a vestigial muzzle ring, often referred to as “high ears”. The bayonet relied on the length of its hilt mounting to fix the blade to its rifle. The S98/05 bayonet was originally issued in two patterns, one with a saw back and one without. The saw back version was known as the S98/05 m.S. (mit Säge - with saw). Only 6% of S98/05 bayonets were made with the saw back.
Initially, the S98/05 had a problem when used with the Karabiner 98 rifle. The shorter barrel on the rifle caused burning and damage to the wooden grips of the bayonet because the barrel finished before the vestigial muzzle ring. In 1915, it was decided to fit a steel flash guard to the back of the hilt to protect the grips. The bayonet was further modified, by grinding off most of the vestigial muzzle ring, reducing the back of the tang and adding a steel flash guard.
As a result of allied propaganda, which led to the mistreatment of German soldiers captured with a saw-back blade, the decision was made in 1917 to cease production of the saw-back version of the S98/05 and to grind off the saw from those already issued, or to recall and re-issue them to non-front line troops.