Knife Knotes XVII

March 2011

Bumper Sticker
"Just because Washington is being ridiculous doesn't mean we have to be."
Works for either party and both would be correct!


NMC marked Jet Pilot Knife
NMC was Nordac Mfg Corp out of Fredericksburg, VA and is now out of business. Anyone ever see one outside of a museum? Our good friend John Gibson recently sold one on his list, I was too late. I don’t see them in any listing on procurement but then it took several years to find MSI, so is NMC the new mystery company to find information on and about? What do you know about them? I speaking with our good friend Charlie Flick, he also believes that Nordac was the manufacturer of the JPK. Charlie has a mint example of the knife with a clear stamping on the back of the sheath, Nordac Manufacturing Co. and the rest of the knife nomenclature below it. A few months ago I received an email from Ed Sabatini stating he was issued a JPK sometime in the early 80’s with NMC / 7-80 stamped in the pommel. So we know the sheath was stamped with the Nordac name which matches the NMC on the pommel. What we don’t know is if Nordac actually made the knives and / or the sheaths or they contracted for them with another manufacturer. Slowly but surely we tug at the thread… Do you know?

PS, Google Nordac for some interesting reading on the owner, reads like a novel.

nmc1.jpg (138967 bytes)    nmc2.jpg (131746 bytes)    nmc3.jpg (132789 bytes)    nmc4.jpg (135481 bytes)    nmc5.jpg (136304 bytes)    nmc6.jpg (114067 bytes)    

Nordac butt marking.jpg (272449 bytes)    Nordac JP Knife 1.jpg (389405 bytes)    Nordac Sheath markings.jpg (394015 bytes)



Gerber Knives Early History
Joe Gerber had a knife company. His son Ham ran the business prior to World War II and also for a few years after he returned from serving in Burma with the US Army Engineers. Compared to building the Burma Road making knives was probably fairly easy. Before the war their knives were made by Dave Murphy. There was quite a falling out among the Gerber’s and the Murphy’s just like the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s. Gerber set up a small factory in Portland and hired another fellow to make knives for them, actually brothers, they were the Barteaux’s to be exact. Quite a few aluminum knife makers walked through those doors.

Ham was running the business and traveling the country setting up accounts mainly in high end jewelry stores. His policy was typically one store per town. Pete Gerber was still in his teens but did work in the shop after school and on weekends. Pete recalls buying worn out automotive parts, pistons in particular, for the aluminum to cast their handles from. (With three families making cast aluminum knives from auto pistons I don’t think there could have been a piston within a thousand miles of Portland. Just how many blown engines were there in the Northwest?) I guess Pete had shown a good business acumen as Joe put him in charge of the business. This of course did not sit well with the older son Ham. Perhaps it was business or perhaps it was family ties you see Ham was the son of Joe’s first wife whom he was divorced from. Joe was into more then just the knife making business as he remarried the company secretary with whom he had another son, Joe. The Gerber business grew from this simple and humble WW II beginnings to the large corporate business it is today. Along the way Murphy and Barteaux created their own knife making companies featuring cast aluminum handles. I am sure there are additional stories in those two as well, perhaps for another time.


Condition Conversation
Age is not a consideration or a factor in the condition. Remember that. We see in descriptions all the time that the item is in great condition for it’s age. What exactly is that supposed to mean? Is it in great condition or not? I have seen items that are 200 years old that look as if they were made yesterday, they were in perfect condition. Don’t be confused or distracted by the magician waving his hands, condition is condition and age has nothing to do with it.


Trying to ID a knife from its patina is like trying to understand a book by analyzing the grain of the paper it is printed on. It might be interesting, it might even be informative. But most of all it is irrelevant."

Bernard Levine 2009


Case M3’s - Straight Guards and Smooth Handles
I wish I could give you some facts on them but we just don't know a lot about them. I personally believe them to be post war knives made from left over parts. I can't prove it but that is my gut feeling on it. Others believe them to be wartime made. The M3 knives were all supposed to have the bomb stamping on the pommel to show proof of Ordnance inspection. Of course we can find some that don't have it. I have also seen knives that were made with the pommels installed upside down and had the marking on the side towards the leather. In the high production assembly line anything is possible. Reading actual inspection reports we know only a few of each batch were actually inspected, the so called inspection stamps were applied before the knife was assembled. I am open to any and all proof or documentation that these knives were made during the war and issued to the troops. It is only my opinion but I believe them to be private purchase items. Prove me wrong.

Case_M3_straight.jpg (103997 bytes)    Case_M3_straight1.jpg (68706 bytes)    Case_M3_straight2.jpg (61423 bytes)
Some very clean condition straight guards, like most are found. 


From an anonymous e-mail…
Why is the Star of David on Marine Corps swords?

It’s not. According to the US Naval Academy, that it is not the Star of David. It is the Star of Damascus, the symbol of world renowned steel and sword craftsmen. These craftsmen used two triangles joined together as a sign of their sword making guild which became known as the Star of Damascus. This symbol means the sword was fashioned with Damascus steel and over 1,000 years of craftsmanship.


Every person is furnished with a life preserver. A substantial number of additional life preservers have to be stowed in chests strategically located so as to be immediately available. Each person is also furnished with a whistle, jack-knife, life-preserver light, and on non-passenger vessels, with a rubber lifesaving suit for immersion or exposure.


The Coast Guard Marked Knife
As made by Camillus this is a #425 pattern Sailor's knife with a sheeps-foot blade and stagged Rosewood handles. These were made during WWII and have the typical wartime 4 line Camillus stamping on the blade ricasso. The first Camillus record I could find of them was dated 5/14/42. Later knives were stamped "USCG Approved" and "1944 Q5" on the blade on the opposite side of the Camillus 4 line stamping. The Q5 change took place on 11/27/1944. The changes were only in minor finish procedures such as glazing the handles and spinning the rivet heads. The clevice and the spring retained the cadmium plating and the iron pins were still retained.

Beginning in 11/14/1949 this knife was altered into the Camillus model # S702 with a can-opener added. These knives have the post WWII 3 line stamping, they were also changed to stainless steel. The Rosewood grips were changed to stagged Rogers Board. Brass pins were used along with Nickel Silver liners and bolsters. The 420 stainless blades were hardened to a RC of 44 to 48. The can-opener is the same one that was used in the MIL-K 4 blade S.S. knife that was also introduced in 1949. The knife was issued with a 6 foot length of cotton rope 1/8 inch in diameter attached to the nickel silver clevice. As a side note the clevice hole was lined with brass or nickel silver with the change dated 4/16/1956. There, that is more then I have ever seen written about the sheeps-foot sailors knife.


Shipley Marked Sheaths
Charles P. Shipley saddle maker was born in 1864. After a very brief apprenticeship, at the age of 21 he had his own saddlery and spur making business established in Kansas City, Mo. This was now 1885 but the Shipley Saddlery & Mercantile Company was not incorporated until 1910. Like most saddleries of the period Shipley utilized mail order along with his retail location. The saddle and tack operation of C.P. Shipley located at the Kansas City Stockyards was one of the most successful businesses to operate in the West.

During the years of 1900 to 1930, Shipley contracted with many of the Texas masters Oscar Crockett, J.R. McChesney, G.A. Bischoff, August Buermann to manufacture spurs of unique design and to be sold under his name. Shipley's spurs are marked inside the heel band: "C.P. Shipley Kansas City, MO." The Charles Shipley Saddlery Company survived well beyond Charles P. Shipley who passed away in 1943. The Company was operated by his sons Clyde and Charlie Shipley until the closing of the business in 1972. All types of leather work came from the operation including knife scabbards made to the Shipley pattern or one designed by the customer. The company was never known to make a knife but the scabbards found today with Shipley name are certainly a collectible item.


Kingston Post War Production
I was recently sent this information. It is from the Schrade/Ulster/Kingston factory records. Most folks think that Kingston was only a WW II era billing company name, not so. Nothing compared to the WW II MIL-K knives production but here they are anyway for your education, just to let you know Kingston marked knives continued in production. I do not know what models they were making in these years.

102,492 Kingston knives were shipped in 1959

137,917 Kingston knives were shipped in 1960

73,930 Kingston knives were shipped in 1961

141,953 Kingston knives were shipped in 1962

182,077 Kingston knives were shipped in 1963

44,619 Kingston knives were shipped in 1964

95,823 Kingston knives were shipped in 1965

40,179 Kingston knives were shipped in 1966

34,474 Kingston knives were shipped in 1967

1,988 Kingston knives were shipped in 1968

6,390 Kingston knives were shipped in 1969

7,950 Kingston knives were shipped in 1970

6,106 Kingston knives were shipped in 1971

4,151 Kingston knives were shipped in 1972.


Observations on Field Mess Knives
Did you know that prior to 1875 the Quartermaster Corps was responsible for both garrison and camp equipage. One of the most misunderstood parts of this is that the knife, fork, spoon, plate and tin cup were not issued items and there were no specifications. From 1876 to1918 the Ordnance Department was responsible for field mess gear and the Quartermaster Corps for garrison equipage. After 1918 the QMC was responsible for both.

The first issued knife, fork, and spoon for field service were acquired by Ordnance contract 1875-1901. These early items were replaced in succession by the Model of 1902, Model of 1910 and Model of 1926 utensils.

During the emergency period of the rapid expansion in the war with Spain the Quartermaster Corps acquired knife, fork, and spoons similar to the garrison knife, fork, and spoons from dry goods and hardware stores for use by troops in training. There is speculation these were carried by the training troops into the transports and throughout the war itself although I could not find any documentation on it. Some surviving mess kits I have seen do exhibit this garrison type equipment, none were US marked. It is not really uncommon to find kits dated from WWI with a mix of M1910, mess hall and emergency purchased utensils. M1902 utensils are occasionally encountered but most knives have been cut down in length to mimic the M1910 length. The utensils from WWII dated kits often have a mix of M1910, M1926 and mess hall utensils. Some of the M1910 utensils were drilled or slotted to approximate the slots in the M1926 utensils. Originally this was a sanctioned alteration carried out in large depots. All I can say is that when an item was lost soldiers would complete their utensil set any way they could, including taking mess hall items. Rattle a few meat cans around when you see them at shows to see if the utensils are inside, then check them out for mismatches. You will be surprised at what you can find in these old kits. Recently MRE’s are issued with plastic cutlery in white, green and tan. I wonder how long they will last in collections?

Mess Cutlery 000a.jpg (56662 bytes)    Mess Cutlery 001a.jpg (62902 bytes)    Mess Cutlery 002a.jpg (51249 bytes)    Mess Cutlery 004a.jpg (40389 bytes)   

Above items are marked with U.S. on both pieces. They are also both marked with a Patent date of Dec 19, 1882. I have not pulled the patents to see exactly what it refers to just yet.


 Mess Cutlery 005a.jpg (56106 bytes)    Mess Cutlery 006a.jpg (60626 bytes) 

Above we show three typical versions of the Model of 1902 tinned knives as made by Rock Island Arsenal, so marked and dated 1904, 1905 and 1908.


RIA 1904 Tinned Knives 001.JPG (119088 bytes)    RIA 1904 Tinned Knives 003.JPG (97752 bytes)    RIA 1904 Tinned Knives.JPG (115323 bytes)

Model of 1902 knives packed 10 to the box. A photo of Rock Island Arsenal in the knife section dated 1904.

Mess Cutlery 007a.jpg (68639 bytes)

Some typical Model of 1910 knives all dated 1917 during the big build up.


  Mess Cutlery 009a.jpg (64887 bytes)    Mess Cutlery 011a.jpg (61617 bytes)    Mess Cutlery 013a.jpg (85724 bytes)  

The three above are all made by American Cutlery Co. and dated 1917. Note they are all different in construction and markings. 


  Mess Cutlery 015a.jpg (55856 bytes)    Mess Cutlery 016a.jpg (47970 bytes)  

M1926 knives made during World War Two on the left. The black bakelite model retains the M1926 designation from what I can find. On the right is an M1926 made by Oneida and dated 1952, hard to believe they needed cutlery after WW II so soon. Along with it is the Vietnam era stamped SS knife.

  Mess Cutlery 018a.jpg (51304 bytes)

The three above were found in meat cans over the years. None are official mess cutlery that I am aware of. The top two are made with stamped blades like the M1926 but have different handles. The center one is stamped US with a correct period serif font. The bottom one is a Medical Department hospital knife that was most likely taken when returning to duty after a visit. 



LF&C Universal Catalog
The Local History Room of the New Britain Public Library houses the only known Universal catalog pages. I also found the unpublished manuscript OYEZ, OYEZ there, it is the story of LF&C written by a local historian. Good stuff in these local libraries, what do you have in your town?


Boker is reproducing the Knife - Hunting, Emergency Survival, Boker (155), the Mark1 and the M3. Nothing wrong with this, in fact if it brings new collectors into the fold it is good. I only mention it because we may run into them being sold as originals, fore warned is fore armed. 


Did you know department
Bad decisions always make great stories…


"For men of understanding do not say that the sword is to blame for murder, nor wine for drunkenness, nor strength for outrage, nor courage for foolhardiness, but they lay the blame on those who make an improper use of the gifts which have been bestowed upon them by God, and punish them accordingly."

St. John Chrysostom (circa 341-410 A.D.), from "Treatise on the Priesthood"


"The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes."

Sherlock Holmes, The Hound of the Baskervilles