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1916 Lithgow bayonet


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#1 jscott

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Posted 12 September 2010 - 12:21 PM

I recently managed to acquire a 1916 Lithgow bayonet in excellent condition which I am very pleased with (being Australian and all...)! It is noticeably different to the 1915 Wilkinson I own (especially the lovely reddish maple grips) and the markings on the bayonet are obviously very different. It has the standard "LITHGOW - 1916 - lithgow shield" markings on one side of the ricasso and on the other the bend test mark and two of the little stars with the A inside, and also the L shield stamp. Another nice touch is that the scabbard metal fittings are also stamped with the A star Lithgow marks.

One marking which had me a little stumped was on the crossguard - there is the standard D/\D marking and then a "5" above this. Would this be the Military District - ie Western Australia? The pommel is marked with a serial number "38383" as well. If anyone has any thoughts on the 5 marking refers to I would love to hear your thoughts. I've done a search online but it appears that the markings used in Lithgow changed/ developed throughout the war a bit - some of the ones i saw had "MD5" etc but I couldn't find any with just the number...

Cheers, J

#2 shippingsteel

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Posted 12 September 2010 - 12:53 PM

Quite a timely enquiry, as I've just spent most of the day cleaning up some of my latest Lithgow additions.!
The D/\D mark is a version of the Department of Defense symbol, while the 5 signifies the 5th Military District ie. Western Australia. I think these markings are the later ones for WW2 but am not really sure how the timeline works for those. Most of the early bayonets are found with something like "5th M.D. 23893" marked on the crossguard.
The 38383 serial number on the pommel is for the rifle the bayonet was first matched too from the factory, and sounds about right for a 1916 bayonet. The Lithgows rolled over from 99999 into the A prefix serial numbers sometime during 1918.

Cheers, S>S

#3 jscott

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Posted 12 September 2010 - 01:04 PM

Hi S/S - thanks for letting me know so quickly. I think Im at a bit of a disadvantage having just one - sounds like I need to keep collecting so that I get a better overview of the various markings etc

#4 shippingsteel

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Posted 12 September 2010 - 01:26 PM

Many of the Lithgow bayonets with Great War dates saw service during WW2, while the AIF took mostly British made bayonets into action in France etc, as they never had quite enough Lithgows ready made to go around.
An interesting one that I worked on today was a 1909 Sanderson with hook quillon removed that was marked with 6MD 2244, so a good example of the above. The 4 digit serial number is quite early so most probably was in Aussie hands with hooker intact around the start of the war. Also has the sold out service marking which indicates being handed over by the British.

You should take some pics of yours and post on here to show it off.! A 1916 Lithgow is always a nice date to have ....

Cheers, S>S

#5 jscott

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Posted 12 September 2010 - 07:19 PM

Agreed, I will try to get some photos up shortly. I was very happy to finally track one down as it had taken some time (and I don't have unlimited funds unfortunately). I would love a Lithgow hookie (or any hooked quillon 1907 to be honest) but I can see I'm not alone on that one.

The Sanderson sounds very interesting - what a great find! Did you know about the 6MD markings when you acquired it or was that a bonus you discovered whilst cleaning?

#6 jscott

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Posted 12 September 2010 - 08:07 PM

Oh, and are you thinking of posting the bayonets you cleaned up today? It would be very interesting (and informative) to see them. Cheers, J

#7 shippingsteel

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Posted 12 September 2010 - 11:29 PM

I don't get that hung up on the super-rare bayonets - if you happen to come across one thats always a nice bonus, but it shouldn't be your sole purpose. There is just as much history (if not more) to be found in a great condition example that is well marked and stamped with the identifiers to your area of interest, such as unit abbreviations or ownership markings. I always focus more on the history side of the collecting rather than the rarity or monetary value involved, and that way I seem to end up much happier and definitely far less frustrated ( and also manage to keep a few dollars left in my pocket.!)

I've just been setting up my new storage system, so been busy cleaning and cataloging everything as they go in. The Lithgows are first cab off the rank so will get some pics when they are finished - a little way to go yet though. Also doing those that have been "lithgowed" - which is my new word for anything that has seen Aussie ownership and is marked accordingly. Think something like "turked" but without all the lasting damage and disfiguration.!!

I've found a reference from Skennerton for your D/\D marking, apparently it was used from the late 1920's onwards so thats why its found more in WW2 stuff. It replaced the original letter D with the small arrow inside (one of my favourites!)

Cheers, S>S

#8 jscott

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 07:33 PM

S>S

Thanks for looking that marking up, much appreciated. I totally agree that its better to focus on bayonets with history as opposed to rarities. The bayonets I find most interesting are those from early in the war - ie 1914-16, as this is the period of the war that I find most intriguing, and these are also the battlefields that I've visited. Hence I've been keeping my eyes open for no clearance hole 1907s etc (which also explains the attraction of hooked quillon 1907s). I also have a number of German and French bayonets from this period. I will definitely keep my eyes peeled for some of those Australian marked bayonets too - I think I will need to try to get to some fairs etc, as they seem like a good place to have a good look about.

I'm also keen to get copy of the Skennerton books - they are rarities themselves as far as I can see. Which of his books would you say is the most comprehensive?

May I ask how you store/ display your bayonets? I'm at a very early stage of collecting (I have only been collecting for 6 months which coincides with my burgeoning interest in the war) and currently have mine taking up the tops of dressers and in drawers!




#9 N White

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 07:45 PM

jscott- If you are looking for storage ideas, here's my solution. Works well for 1907s- lower left. 1/2 inch pegs in half a 2x4, decorate as desired! (Overflow fits well in under-bed storage containers).

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#10 jscott

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 08:27 PM

Thanks - that looks really good. Im not much of a carpenter but that looks like a really good option. I presume that you made it yourself? The resolution on my computer isn't great but it seems you have some nice French bayonets up there?

#11 N White

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 10:00 PM

I'm no woodworker either! I took a nice 2x4, cut it in half longwise, rounded the "bottom" edge with a router, (totally unnecessary, just for looks), chopped it to the lengths I needed, and borrowed a drill press. 1 inch segments of dowel in the holes, and voila. Staining it to the right color actually took the longest... Bayonetwise, Chassepot, Gras, Lebel and Berthier are well represented, along with a few of their foreign contemporaries.

#12 shippingsteel

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 12:46 AM

Thats a good idea for the bayonet display - nice and simple and its looks good as well. Storage always seems to become a problem, usually ending up with stuff gathered all over the place. Thats not a good look and eventually gets a bit unmanageble. I think I've finally found a good solution for my own problems - and importantly its VERY expandable (thats definitely a necessity.!!) :thumbsup:
I might take some pics when I finish getting it all sorted.

The fairs are good to have a look around as you get to see a much broader range of whats out there to collect. They usually have a lot of good books there as well. For starters I'd recommend getting Skennertons "British & Commonwealth Bayonets" as a good coverall reference. Unfortunately there's not really one book that does all the nationalities, so you really need to become a book collector as well. Though I think they are the best investment you'll ever make, especially when starting out.

Cheers, S>S
EDIT. This ain't it but I think you'll get the general idea. I should be able to fit at least 50 into my 'monster truck version' before I'm finished.!! :blush:
Attached File  69_2.png   96.94KB   1 downloads

#13 jscott

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 08:53 PM

Goodness, that looks like the storage option of a true addict! Pardon my stupidity but what is its original purpose (presumably not a custom made bayonet holder?) Is it a tool box of some description?

#14 shippingsteel

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 11:07 PM

Agreed - run away while you still can.!! :D
These boxes are tool cabinets for professional tradesmen. The slide-out trays are perfect depth once fitted with a foam base and liner. The trick is to get one with the right length drawers to suit your collection. Mine is of generous proportions to say the least, each of the drawers can comfortably take a P1907 lengthwise with room to spare. Not ideal for display but excellent storage for my ... err... investments.!! :lol:

Cheers, S>S

#15 N White

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 11:02 PM

Another option for the serious collector suggested in a book I have is blueprint/map cabinets. Metal construction to handle heavy weight, large flat drawers, etc apparently make them ideal. Very similar to S>S's solution. I went with my option because I like being able to look at and handle mine, rather than simply store them, Although I justify my collection size by telling myself if I had to I could still fit it all into a footlocker...

#16 jscott

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Posted 18 September 2010 - 10:32 AM

These are both much better storage ideas than my current practice of keeping them in random drawers and bench tops! I think a combination of the two would be a good idea - my wife is keen for me to be able to lock them up so that little hands cant find them (not an issue at the moment but could be in the future).

One other question that has just occurred to me on this topic (1907 bayonets - not storage) is in relation to the regimental markings. From what I've seen the vast majority of 1907s are not marked at all (other than the standard date, crown, bend test etc), and the majority of the ones I have seen with regimental markings are for battalions that remained in reserve (and often stayed in the UK). Is this an accurate observation or is this just coincidence? Were the English produced 1907s that saw action in France and elsewhere usually regimentally marked, or were they often rushed out sans markings (a bit like the German bayonets which seemed to drop the markings after the early war period)?

#17 shippingsteel

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Posted 18 September 2010 - 11:00 AM

Sure the regimental markings are less common on the average P1907's but they are usually found on the earlier dated examples. I think they were more often marked in pre-war times mostly for administration purposes so they could keep track of which weapons went where, and who had what etc. Sadly many of the marked regular army weapons would have dissolved into the wartime battlefields amongst the huge early losses, which makes them harder to find today. The ones that were marked to training and reserve units are obviously more likely to have survived long enough to be examined today. From what I have seen not that many of the wartime production bayonets were regimentally marked, mostly they were just rushed into the hands of the new troops and sent into action. They had no need to be marked at the frontlines.

Cheers, S>S

#18 shippingsteel

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Posted 19 September 2010 - 12:38 AM

Just happened to pick up a Mole late last night .... she was pretty well marked as well....!! :whistle:

(BTW I am talking about bayonets here you know, what else would you expect.! Does make me think of the good ol' days though.!) :lol:

Anyway here's a sneak peek to prove my point ....

Cheers, S>S

Attached File  p1903-1.jpg   33.1KB   2 downloads



#19 shippingsteel

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Posted 19 September 2010 - 01:01 AM

Yeah as I was saying - the markings ....(see below)
This one is of course a P1903 example, but does help prove the point about the pre-war manufactured bayonets having the unit markings. This one was made in 1904 and has been marked and cancelled out and then marked again, the last time to a unit of the Royal Engineers. You've got to remember that a very large portion of the bayonets in wartime service would have been made prior to the war. This one has been around but I think it will clean up okay. Trying to find anything that was made by Mole is an achievment in itself - I'm pretty happy.!

Actually I had a really great day, also picked up a brilliant M1909 Argie Mauser for 50 bucks that was very badly misdescribed as a common old M95 (how did they miss the quillon.?)
It was matching with crest with a beautiful patina as well - as they say, some days are diamonds.... :D

Cheers, S>S
EDIT. From the RE Museum website it appears the 148th was an Army Troop Company that saw service during the Somme battles of 1916, so this ones most probably "been there"

Attached File  p1903-3.jpg   31.72KB   0 downloads



#20 jscott

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Posted 19 September 2010 - 04:14 PM

Very nice find S>S, and good work on getting the photos up so quickly. Sounds like you'll be needing that extension to the tool chest sooner rather than later! I presume these were ebay pickups given the oversight in the description?! A P1903 is definitely on my search list but they dont tend to come up very often (in my experience).

On the subject of markings I was looking at my Lithgow this morning and noticed a hitherto unseen MD5737 marking on the mouthpiece of the scabbard, and also noticed a 'Lithgow 1916' stamp on the leather of the scabbard. I'm currently looking for a reasonably priced copy of Skennertons little bayonet bible so that I can get myself up to speed on all the different markings (although there are some very good online resources which people have posted elsewhere on the forum).

#21 shippingsteel

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Posted 19 September 2010 - 11:02 PM

Yeah I normally scour ebay for the misdescribed stuff, that way I'm not bidding against many others, and can pick good gear up for a fraction of the value - that always makes me happy.!
This P1903 was listed simply as English WW1 bayonet - thats it, no pattern or model or very importantly in this case ... maker. I nearly fell off my chair when I found it.! The P03's are less commonly seen.

That Lithgow scabbard is also a valuable find, they are scarce and sought after, and depending on condition could be worth more than the bayonet itself. The stamping on the rim is the normal ownership marks, there should be a number in front of it, I'll think you will find - if it hasn't been worn off .... thats for the military district.

Cheers, S>S

#22 N White

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Posted 20 September 2010 - 01:16 AM

S>S- Lithgow scabbards are worth more than the bayonets? I ask as while I have no Lithgow 1907s, (yet...) I do have a loose Lithgow scabbard with the teardrop stud, marked A in the 8 pointed star- that I picked up for $12 at a local antique mall. Are they really so sought after?

#23 shippingsteel

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Posted 20 September 2010 - 01:42 AM

If clearly dated early wartime and in good overall condition they are worth some money. When I picked one up I spoke to a respected dealer about it and he was very willing to pay, said he had clients that needed them to match with their early Lithgows (hookies presumably.!) :lol: . When people are chasing them to complete sets then money apparently is not a problem. Obviously anything after the war and heading into WW2 is next to worthless though.

Cheers, S>S

#24 N White

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Posted 20 September 2010 - 01:59 AM

Interesting. On mine there is nothing visible stamped into the leather, but the metal bits are all in the early style, rather than the later cost cutting types. I'll definately keep ahold of this one then. Thanks.

#25 shippingsteel

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Posted 20 September 2010 - 02:17 AM

I got another Lithgow set from an ex-vet the other day. Still had the period frog attached from WW2 service and was it stiff.! Thats the bad news cause the topmount had sweated under the canvas and was rusted very badly. Totally wrecked it, so I stripped it off - the rest of the scabbard was fine and will go into the pile for an eventual rebuild when I get the right bits together. The bayo was a 1917 in very sweet condition.

Cheers, S>S