tocemma, on 29 February 2012 - 01:40 PM, said:
I'm not sure any real conclusions can be drawn from this. As the thinner version in the original post is not dated it is impossible to know when it dates from. I have just checked the helve holders and helves in my collection and all are interchangeable. Cetainly as far as I'm aware there was no change to the design of the webbing helve holder throughout its service life, and only one official change to the helve in 1944 which added a fitting for the spike bayonet then issued.
For information the helve holders I have tried are dated as follows 1909 (frst year of issue) there is a picture of this example on the karkeeweb site, 1914,1915,1917 and lastly 1918. I have others and will check but I am not expecting to see much difference beyond what would be reasonable in an item turned from wood and hand finished. The helve holders I have tried are dated 1912, 1914, and two dated 1915. All of the helves and webbing were completely compatible with no appreciable difference.
The only other`thing I have seen is where MKII helves have had the bayonet fitting cut off in order to be passed off as ealier examples. There are two giveaways on these
1. the helve was thicker in profile and tapered down to the bayonet fitting. Where these later have been cut off this taper is still evident.
2. Genuine examples of these WW1 helves have a tool marking from the machine used to turn them. This shows as a small hole in the centre of the bottom end face of the helve. Usually the top (ferrule) end of the helve has clamp marks from manufacture present.
I also note the karkeeweb site shows an example dated 1911, which does not appear to be thinner or 'waisted' It might be possible that early examples were waisted in a traditional way, like the shaft of a hammer for instance, but I doubt there would be variation in helves enough to prevent the closing of the helve holder.
Surely such oversize examples would be rejected by Army inspectors.
The very earliest intrenching tool heads have a different central 'eye', deeper on the examples issued from 1909 until 1911. I have an example by Lucas, dated 1909, as well as several later examples. There is no difference in the ferrules on the helve, once again other than manufacturing variance, and all are interchangable.
I hope this is of interest.
I've had a look at the bottom of the helve, and it has the impression of the machine's 'live centre' still in the bottom.
However, I did find last year another thin helve, the same as the one above, but this one had the 1944 mod for the No. spike bayonet.....when laid side by side, they are both the same length. Plus this one fits the eye of the 1909 head very well with no rattling about, same as the above.....
What has happened to it, is the wood has started to split from underneath the metal head and runs down the shaft for 1" inch. Also, on close inspection, where the shaft has been shaved down until it reaches the head, the bottom end of the head has been peined over to make it flush with the shaved down step on the shaft. giving the bottom edge a chamfered look, this is not due to the amount of times the helve has been fitted in and out of the head,