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    Help: Unusual Ishapore bayonet, trials??

    Greetings All, first I apologize for posting this on multiple boards but I wanted maximum exposure.

    I have managed to find what might be a Trials Ishapore P1903 bayonet. It has unusual markings that differ it from the standard Ishapore 1888 to 1903 conversions and was wondering if anyone has similar markings on their example?

    Published P1903 history is that Ishapore started bayonet production in 1912 with the P1907 and in that same year they started the P1888 to P1903 conversion (Skennertonicon & Edwards). In Englandicon there was also a P1888-1903 conversion with 66,707 converted between 1903-08 (Skennerton) if they continued after that has not been published to my knowledge.

    Bayonet Observations

    On the blade “front” is the Crown with a poorly struck “ERI” with the “I” being faint. Followed by a hand struck “/03” then a date of “4 09”. On the blade “back” is “R/|\F” over “I”, a small crown over “I” and “X” which as been over struck or double struck. There are no markings on either of the blade edges.

    So typical RFI P1903 conversions do not have the Crown ERI markings, the date is very late for a P1888 or P1903 British manufacture (they were still assembling SMLE Mk I’s past 1910 so never say never).

    The R/|\F over I stamp is commonly seen on Ishapore rifle conversions but not on bayonets and the typical Indian conversion stamp on P1903 is 1G/12 or similar. The inspectors mark crown over I is also seen on rifles but the standard stamp on a P1903 Indian conversion is a /|\ over I. Finally the bend proof “X” is usually present on standard conversions but have been observed to be mostly from its original manufacture. This example has been either over struck or double struck?

    Other proof marks. Original British manufacture P1888 and P1903 have factory inspection proofs on the edge of the blade, this example does not.

    Are you still with me??

    So here are my thoughts.

    It could be a new undocumented P1903 production/trials in 1909 at Ishapore (as they were making SMLE Mk I*there from 1907-09). Pro’s for this is the lack of previous inspection marks, the Crown ERI mark and the non-standard Ishapore markings on the back. Con’s there is no documentation, possible over stamp of previous bend proof, and why “/03” vs 1903, added later after trials???

    It could be one of the initial P1903 conversions, based on the RFI mark on the back and bend proof, but it lacks any other marks from its original manufacture. Perhaps this is a commercial bayonet that got into the system?

    For comparison I have included a British P1888-P1903 conversion and a standard Indian P1888-1903 conversion. As you can see on both even though they are very worn or even partially removed the original bayonet markings do show.

    Any other insight or examples from fellow collections is greatly appreciated!!

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