Original U.S. WWI Model 1904 Hospital Corps Bolo Knife by Springfield Armory with R.I.A. Scabbard - dated 1911

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available: This is a fantastic find, and only the second example that we have had! The M-1904 Hospital Corps Knife was the first of the modern Springfield Armory made edged weapon to carry a serial number. Designed for use by the U. S. Army Medical Corps, over 40,000 Hospital Corps Knives were made at the Springfield Armory, Springfield, MA between 1904 and 1914. Like all of the "bolo" knives, these were heavy knives intended for use both as brush clearing devices, as well as weapons. It was designed to aid US soldiers with jungle foliage that they found themselves in with incursions into Cuba and the Philippines, where natives used similar sized machetes.

According to archive correspondence, the first 236 knives were issued without serial numbers, but at the request of the Surgeon General of the U.S. Army, the Springfield Armory began the serial numbering process with number 237 and continuing upward. Contrary to many stories, the knife was not designed for "field expedient amputations", but the look in the novice's eyes often make the tale worth the telling.

The M-1904 features a 12" heavy curved back blade, with a curved cutting edge with a big belly near the "non-threatening" rounded tip.  It is marked near the cross guard with S A / (Flaming bomb) / 1911 on one side, and U.S. / 21130 on the reverse. The heavy ended blade made these very effective for clearing brush and jungle debris, as well as making them excellent hand weapons in close combat. The edge is single beveled, which helps with strength and ease of sharpening. 

This example shows a few small edge chips, but no major use and sharpening, with just a few areas of oxidation on the blade in places, mainly on the areas where it contacts the scabbard. There does not appear to have been any post manufacture sharpening, and the edge is still only sharpened from one side, as originally issued. The wooden handle has a beautiful color, and is free from any major defects, with the brass rivets and end cap still secure. 

The original scabbard is also in very good condition, and is probably rarer than the Bolo Knife itself. This example still has the original markings visible under the belt swivel.


This is a later version of the scabbard, as earlier ones had a leather belt loop. This has the Springfield/Krag style metal belt loop clip with swivel. It is also marked 1ST F.H. N.J faintly in the leather of the scabbard, which would seem to indicate issue to a Field Hospital. There are additional markings, making this an excellent research opportunity. The stitching is almost entirely intact, and the leather is still soft, with some finish cracking and wear in areas.

A very scarce edged weapon dating back to before WWI in fantastic condition, complete with an original scabbard. A great addition to any collection!

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