Antique bayonets are edged weapons produced more than 100 years ago.
Brief history and description
The bayonet is an ancillary close-quarter combat weapon and has been adopted by most international armies since the seventeenth century.
The weapon is created by attaching a specifically designed sword or knife on, over or underneath the muzzle of a gun, musket or rifle, which then transforms the gun into a secondary spear.
Knife-shaped bayonets have the additional purpose of being used by soldiers as general cutting apparatus whilst in the field.
It is believed that the bayonet originated in France during the seventeenth century. However, there is some debate among military historians whether or not the bayonet was created as an impromptu weapon out of necessity or specifically designed by hunters as a secondary weapon to fend off animals had the hunter's bullet missed its target.
By the 1660s the bayonet had been introduced to the French army by General Jean Martinet and adopted by most European armies.
Although the bayonet is associated with the American Civil War and the two World Wars, the bayonet still plays an important part in modern warfare and has been used in the Falklands War, the Second Gulf War and the war in Afghanistan
Guide for collectors
Antique bayonets come in a variety of shapes, sizes and designs and can usually be classified into the following categories; sword bayonets, sawback bayonets, trowel or spade bayonets, blade bayonets and knife bayonets.
Unlike other pieces of military history, bayonets are still relatively inexpensive and due to their size, are much easier to collect and store than swords or rifles. Today, antique bayonets are used as status symbols, for ceremonial purposes and as decorative items for homes and offices across the world. There is an established antique bayonet collectors' community on the internet with a multitude of sites that are a great source of information and advice for collectors, such as Bayo-hunter.com. The International Bayonet Association can be found on i.b.a.free.net/.
Bayonetcollectors.org is a good place to start for collectors and owners alike, as it provides a comprehensive list of dealers, enthusiasts and experts of antique bayonets.
There are many variables that can affect the price and collectability of antique bayonets. Collectors should always check the condition of the bayonet and the quality of the patina. The price can increase dramatically if the bayonet has its original scabbard and all the mechanical parts are still functional.
A bayonet's country of origin can be verified by comparing the markings on either the scabbard or the bayonet itself with the descriptions or pictures on various online reference websites such as worldbayonets.com.
Antique bayonets can be purchased at flea markets, military surplus stores and antique shops and occasionally feature at reputable auction houses, including Christie’s and Bonhams. Collectors, however, are more than likely to find antique bayonets on online bidding sites such as Yahoo and eBay or websites such as Bayonetconnection.com and Antiqueswordtrader.co.uk that are totally dedicated to the sales of military paraphernalia.
In July 2002 at Christie’s, London, a Spanish plug bayonet and a bayonet for a D.B. sporting gun dating from the nineteenth century were sold for a combined price of £1,434.
In December 2011, a British 1855 sword bayonet produced by Sappers & Miners of Lancaster was sold on Antiqueswordtrader.co.uk for £125.