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US MODEL 1880 HUNTING KNIFE WITH THE VERY SCARCE SHORT LEATHER LOOP SCABBARD – WATERVLIET ARSENAL STAMPED AND INSPECTED SCABBARD – VERY NICE SET:  Old Texas collections continue to provide a seemingly endless supply of treasures, enabling us to offer yet another very nice, matched set with a M1880 Hunting Knife in the very desirable early Short Belt Loop Scabbard.  Encountered with considerably less frequency than the earlier Varney Scabbards, these short loop scabbards for the M1880 Hunting Knife were ordered to be manufactured at Watervliet Arsenal in 1883 by Gen. Benet, Chief of Ordnance.  The short loop scabbards, intended to be worn on the leather waist belts under the woven cartridge belts, were manufactured with a 2 ½” belt loop and such is the case with this specimen.  These short loop scabbards remained in service only a short time, first being replaced with scabbard with a longer belt loop in 1888, and by the familiar brass belt hook which by mid-1888 was being manufactured on an experimental basis and which would ultimately replace the leather belt loop altogether.  The final adoption of the brass hook attachment resulted in many of these leather loop scabbards being modified to accept the brass hook by removing the leather loop.  Hence, not many of these early scabbards have survived this modification or the passage of time.  

Having survived in very nice condition, both knife and scabbard are very attractive and while showing signs of issue in the field, remain in very good to excellent condition.  The knife features a light oak grip with no splits, excellent original finish and two minor points of wear on the edge of the pommel.  The blade is full form; however it has been lightly sharpened without any significant loss of the original profile.  There are some very small nicks in the edge, barely noticeable, but mentioned here for a complete description and shown below in full in the photograph.  The blade is overall bright with a few scattered dark spots of surface age coloring with no pitting.  The brass hilt has a nice even patina and a clear legible “US SPRINGFIELD” and serial number “1572”.  The scabbard body has a nice, even, smooth bright finish front and back with no signs of wear, crazing or surface loss, and all the seams are intact.  The belt loop is solid with all seams intact and no signs of weakness or breakage.  The leather surface shows some flexing, with no loss of the shiny surface finish.  The front of the belt loop is legibly stamped “WATERVLIET ARSENAL” and the reverse of the belt loops is stamped with the inspector’s initials “J.B.” immediately above the overlap.  There are two old rivet holes showing the impression of the rivet burrs, likely a soldier applied modification to fix the knife sheath in position on his belt.  The holes are not particularly unsightly and while in the area of the arsenal stamp, do not obliterate the characters of the stamp. 

These leather loop scabbards present an important link in the evolution of the M1880 Hunting Knife and this specimen will be a significant addition to your collection of US Army Indian Wars era edged weapons.  (0703) $1750


 

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