Original U.S. WWII US Navy Unmarked Milsco M-1940 Klewang Boarding Cutlass
Original Item: Only One Available. Towards the end of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th Century, the US Navy was about to retire its 50 year old mainstay naval cutlass, the M1860, first developed and used for the Civil War. Just as it did for all of its naval cutlasses, the US Navy went out to seek the best current design of cutlass the world had to offer at that time and chose to pattern its new model M1917 after the Dutch Netherlands Klewang Cutlass model M1898-M1911.
Once the basic design decision was made, the Navy added a few enhancements such as the japanned steel hilt with a full half basket cup like its predecessor the M1850, (as opposed to the Klewang's open half cup or the M1860's brass cup), and an all wood squarish cross-hatched grip. But apart from that there is little essential distinctive difference between the US Navy's new M1917 and the Dutch Klewang M1911.
The US Navy then went to its mainstay cutlass maker the Ames Corporation who amazingly though politely declined the contract for no officially known reason. The US Navy was intent on replacing the aging M1860 cutlass, so they decided to manufacture it themselves in one of its armories. This was the first time that the US Navy manufactured its own cutlass and it is believed that the production took place at the Navy Yard either in New York or Boston. Records are scant regarding who and where and even how many of the M1917 cutlasses were actually made.
Along with the distinctive clipped point, full half basket cup, and wooden cross-hatched grip the only other identifying mark on this cutlass are the large initials U.S.N. found on the obverse ricasso.
Additionally, it is not even known whether the M1917 naval cutlass was even issued to the fleet. There are no records of this specific cutlass being issued, inventoried, or part of any ships armament. There are no period photographs of either sailor or marine carrying this particular model of cutlass, even though there are period photographs of the M1860 being used in the 1930's during some of the Boxer uprisings and unrest.
The M1940 was manufactured in the U.S. by Milsco (Milwaukee Saddlery Company) beginning in 1940 and had an unmarked blade. The European models M1898/M1901 were manufactured in Solingen, Germany and Hembrug, Netherlands. Additionally in the early 1940s both Milsco and another U.S. company named Vince supplied only the Klewang blades for the Dutch to be used as replacement blades in the Dutch East Indies. These blades were assembled with hilts, grips, and guards both in the Netherlands and mainly in the Dutch East Indies as replacement blades to the M1898/M1901.
This example has an unmarked blade with an open basket (without notches) and is offered in excellent slightly used condition. There are some nicks and dents present in the handle, as well as scuff marks from storage. There was another model of the Klewang produced after 1940, the M1941 which had bakelite grips and a marked ricasso. It is very hard to distinguish the differences between both the American made examples and the European examples, but we do believe this one to be the unmarked M1940 American example by Milsco.
We have found a period photograph online showing a one of these cutlasses attached to a soldier's pack, but we cannot see whether it is the M1940, 1941, or 1942 from the photograph.
Comes ready for further research and display!
Blade Length: 24 ½”
Grip Length: 4 ¾”
Total Length: 28 ⅞”
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