This battle-worn French Napoleon III period Carabiniers of the Imperial Guard cuirass front plate is maker-marked on the bottom back, as was the rule with the 19th century French bureaucratic machine, for which I applaud it. It certainly makes dating so much easier.
Our cuirass dates from September 1861, and is maker-marked by the arsenal at Châtellerault. The other part of the maker's inscription appears to read "2me Taille Largesse Extra no.551", which probably stands for the "2nd Size Extra Large, cuirass No.551".
In 1865 First and Second Regiments of Carabiniers were amalgamated into a single Régiment de Carabiniers de la Garde Impériale.
Their most recognizable attribute was a cuirass with a polished mirror-bright brass plate over the steel body, and a large silver-colored sunburst emblem.
The regiment existed for only 5 years.
It took a very active and very bloody part in the Franco-Prussian War, where it fought hard in the Battle of Gravelotte and Saint-Privat, and was one of the last French regiments to leave the field of battle, covering the withdrawal of Marshal Bazaine's Army into Metz. And this cuirass was probably there, with its bearer, charging the Saxons and the Bavarians, Wurttembergers and Prussians, then retreating, treading on the road to Metz, thousands of bodies and body parts strewn alongside, mowed apart by the Prussian cannon.
After the end of the war and the end of Napoleon III reign, the Carabiniers de la Garde were disbanded, and made part of the newly-formed 11th Cuirassiers Regiment.
The cuirass is in a wonderful untouched condition, with beautiful uniform patina to the brass. Polished steel emblem retains traces of silver in protected areas.
Cuirasse weighs 4 kg 800 g. It's about 34 cm wide x 50 cm long.