knife knotes part iii
I heard someone once say that we do not own these knives, we are merely the caretakers of them preserving them for the next generation to enjoy. With that in mind I constantly see leather handles and sheaths in dry, brittle condition. Most are easily brought back to like new condition with a simple coating or two of a quality leather dressing. Keep in mind the product you choose to preserve your piece. The majority of leather dressings on the market today are based on tallow or neat=s-foot oil. Tallow's contain salts which build up with repeated dressing and attack the leather fibers. These animal fats provide a culture for the growth of bacteria and fungus, and eventually turn rancid, resulting in further attack on the leather. Products that use animal fats include: Mink Oil, Lanolin based products and Neat=s-foot Oil. Normally when they dry you can see the tell tale signs of a white powdery substance on the surface. I have had great luck with Pecard Leather Dressing. It was recommended by a friend on the WWW. Their products are based on a petroleum lubricant similar to Vaseline. It is a dressing which penetrates the leather, allows the fibers to bend and move without chafing and breaking, coats the fibers to inhibit oxidation, and helps maintain a desirable level of moisture in the leather. It is chemically neutral, so it will not darken leather, but restore it to it's natural-toned color. It contains neither salts or solvents, and does not decompose as animal fat products do to form damaging chemicals. Leather is a protein and needs these oils replenished to prevent it from drying out. As for the general consensus on alterations................. as long as it is a treatment to enhance the life of the item all is well. There are those who do not believe anything should be done but I disagree with this thought. I have found many great knives over the years with slightly loose guards that have been brought back to Excellent Plus items by having the leather handles treated which swells the leather back into the original size tightening up the guard again.
After studying these knives for quite some years I still can not come up with documentary evidence that they were purchased by the government for the Quartermaster Corps or any other branch for that matter. I have been told by many that such paperwork exists but it has taken on the mystique of anAUrban Legend@ to me. AThe blades were made extra thick to pry open wooden crates.@ AThe pommels were doubled and checkered to provide a hammering surface for resealing the crates.@ These are just a few of the often repeated comments I have heard concerning these knives. Are they true? I would think that a pry bar or a hammer would be better suited for such activities. I do know that J.B.F. Champlin was the wartime president of Cattaraugus Cutlery Co. Mr. Champlin=s son Jack, was in the Army Quartermaster Corps stationed in Europe. Is this a coincidence by any chance? Jack carried a 225Q knife made especially for him according to local newspaper accounts. Could this have been the connection for that mysterious AQ@ stamped on the blades of the Cattaraugus and the Case examples of this knife? The knives were, at the time, known by the factory workers as ACommando@ knives but we have gathered that the moniker was a marketing ploy as they look nothing like the original ACommando@ knives. Again that seems to be aimed at general sales and marketing not a government contract. If anyone has access to any government records showing the actual purchase of 225Q type knives I sure would like to see it. Let=s put this Acommon knowledge@ issue to rest once and for all.
This week past I had the pleasure of holding and photographing a Woroniecki knuckle knife. I have seen these knives in books before both photographed and illustrated. I have recently come across a copy of a page from the wartime Woroniecki Rare Guns Catalog dated 1944. It shows three variations of knives offered and a fourth is listed but not shown. I can=t remember ever seeing them before in print so here is that photo. Sorry it doesn=t reproduce well but it is a copy of a copy. I do remember seeing a V-42 type knife in a display at one time that I assumed was a theatre made type. Now that I think of it, it may have been a Woroniecki knife. Anyway for your viewing pleasure here they are. Knowledge is power when you know what it is you are looking for. Now the big question...... who were they made by??
SEAL=s Try Buck
Just a quick note that the U.S. Navy SEAL Team Five purchased 100 Buck Model 187 Intrepid Tanto style knives directly from Buck. These knives featured the older style (1998) serrations that Buck has since changed in 1999. The SEAL=s received the 100 knives in May of 1999 with the possible future purchase option of 100 more left open. What are they being used for ............ Your guess is as good as mine at this time. We shall try to poke around and see what turns up. It seems the SEAL=s can never get enough knives. My kind of guys!
Bartlett Edged Tool Co.
In researching the M1917 Trench Knife I noticed a section in an Ordnance pamphlet entitledAHandbook of Ordnance Data@ dated November 15, 1918 printed by the GPO in 1919 that described the M1917 Bolo Knife. It stated that these bolos were produced by the American Cutlery Company, Fayette R. Plumb and the Bartlett Edged Tool Company. I have viewed dozens of the first two but can not remember ever seeing one of the latter made models. Do they exist? Is it a misprint? Could it have been mistaken as to which product Bartlett actually made? The unmarked bolo similar to the Collins 1005 has never been attributed to any maker, could this have been the Bartlett product referred to in the Ordnance pamphlet. All guesses so far but it does give one something to ponder on.
Speaking of the Collins 1005, why does everyone want to place the Collins 1005 machete in the Spanish American War? The Collins Edged Tool Register places the Model 1005 drawing with a date of February 4, 1913. That fact is easy enough to look up even for an amateur researcher such as myself. It is also stated in D.E. Henry=s book on Collins for those not so inclined to call or visit the Canton Historical Museum. Now according to my history books that war was over by this time period. If guesses are repeated often enough and printed in respected books it is hard to refute these well known Afacts.@ Let=s try to set the record straight on this one. I have even seen these machetes with Spanish American War themes scratched into the handles and scabbards. Let the fakers beware we know better then to fall for that.
Fairbairn / Sykes Knives
I never really paid much attention to them as I really specialize in United States military knives but I have always liked the F/S knives. Well I happened upon a few that were in unissued condition and still had the Cosmoline on them from WW II. This grabbed my attention. I often wonder how such things can stay in storage for 50 years and just surface now? I guess it=s like some of the stuff in my garage, I have moved across the country several times, so much of the stuff packed in there is still in boxes! I couldn=t tell you what is in some of those boxes! Anyway I digress, these knives were in excellent plus condition having only light storage marks on them preventing them from being classified as mint. When I examined them I noticed a small number stamped on the hilt, FR693, and a number stamped on the rear of the scabbard, FR271. Having remembered reading something about them but not remembering enough to be sure about it I purchased two. I pulled Ron Flook=s book off the shelf and started to read again. Here they were and said to be rare! Some days it be like that.
Did you know that Case did not do the bluing, Parkerizing or plating on the V-42 of WW II fame? That=s right they sent them out to have that work performed. The parkerized versions were done by the Olean Plating Company of Olean, N.Y. The blued versions were done by Robinson Cutlery Company of Springville, N.Y. There is no record of the few samples that were plated bright but Case used Olean Plating Company for the bright plating of their 325-5 and 325-6 models during the war. If I were to bet, that would be the place. While on the topic of Case, did you know that the U.S. Naval Air Station in San Diego ordered and received 30 Case Knife / Axe sets in 1943? It was listed under a local contract number of A26376" and delivered in mid 1943. First I ever heard of that one! Testing I would suppose but maybe they had a few trees in the base that needed to be taken care of. We will probably never know about that one, but they did buy them and receive them during WW II.
Ontario M9 Bayonets
In September of 1999 a contract was let for 25,000 M9 bayonets for the U.S. Army. Until this time Lan-Cay had been the only bidder on the M9 contracts. In this bid things had changed. Ontario, a long time government provider in cutlery, had procured new laser cutting equipment and felt they could be competitive in the M9 bid. When the bidding was finalized the contract was split. Rock Island, the government entity that procures bayonets felt that by having a backup provider it would improve the overall competitiveness. So it came to pass that Lan-Cay would produce 12,500 bayonets and Ontario would produce 12,500 bayonets. The first thing you will notice on the Ontario version of the M9 is the color. It is a much lighter green in the handle and the scabbard. It is termedAForest Green@ and is completely within U.S. milspec. The markings are as follows: AM-9 / ONTARIO / KNIFE CO / USA@ stamped on the blades ricasso. The contract was scheduled to be completed by June 2000 and both contractors accomplished this goal.
Those of you who follow these pages will well know my affection to a good quote. Although this one has nothing to do with knives it was recently brought to my attention during the Florida Fiasco. It has been a long time since I sat down and read Shakespeare, (high school when I had to) but it was well worth my time. It seems there is a constant in time, they are still pests. For your reading pleasure this is the mob scene:
DICK THE BUTCHER, SHOUTED ENTHUSIASTICALLY,ATHE FIRST THING WE DO, LET'S KILL ALL THE LAWYERS."
SHAKESPEARE'S HENRY VI Part 2, Act IV : Scene II
And for those of you who want a knife quote from the master, here it is:
AWHY DOST THOU WHET THY KNIFE SO EARNESTLY?@
The Merchant of Venice, Act IV: Scene I.
DRMS (Defense Re-utilization and Marketing Service)
Through this agency large numbers of bayonets have recently hit the market. Items are posted online and a bid can be placed directly to the government. You need to pick them up from the storage arsenal wherever it may be. Be careful if planning this as some items are stored overseas. Shipping could be a problem. I have seen lots from 10 to 1000 offered. All types from WW II era to the present have shown up in government storage. Many of these bayonets are in excellent condition and only show storage wear. Prices have been effected accordingly. The M7 market has been driven into the ground where an M7 bayonet can be picked up for as little as $10.00. M1 prices have also fell, though the excellent condition rare maker marked items have generally held their prices quite well. As before, condition and rarity continue to hold the prices on many of these old warhorses. M1917 Vietnam era bayonets have also been in these packages. Prices have dropped slightly but not very significant. The bonus to this is that many of these prior unobtainable items are now available in great condition.
Makin Island Raid Knives
While U.S. Marine Corps patrols searched for the enemy on Guadalcanal, another force of approximately 200 Marines moved into enemy waters farther north and raided a Japanese atoll in the Gilbert Islands. Companies A and B of Lieutenant Colonel Evans F. Carlson's 2d Raider Battalion went from Oahu to Makin atoll on board submarines. It was still dark at 0430 on Aug. 17 when the USS Nautilus rose from beyond the reef off Butaritari, the biggest of the coral islands in the Makin Atoll, and let Company B, 2nd Raider Battalion, over the side in rubber boats. The Nautilus and another sub, the USS Argonaut, had sailed 10 days from Pearl Harbor. The World War II battle was short, bloody and controversial. Eighteen Americans died in the 19-hour firefight. Nine were still alive on the island when the Marines withdrew to the submarines and returned to Pearl Harbor. By mid-afternoon, Carlson decided to withdraw his force. The Marines loaded their wounded on rafts and headed back through the waves to the subs. Carlson gave a local Makinese islander $50 to bury the 18 dead Americans. The raid was planned to destroy enemy installations, gather intelligence data, test raiding tactics, boost home-front morale, and possibly to divert some Japanese attention from Guadalcanal. It was partially successful on all of these counts, but its greatest asset was to home-front morale. Remains believed to be from this group of 18 U.S. Marines killed in action on Butaritari Island during World War II, were repatriated at a ceremony on Hickam Air Force Base, at 3 p.m. Hawaii time, Friday, Dec. 17. The remains are believed to include those of Sgt. Clyde Thomason, the first enlisted Marine awarded the Medal of Honor during World War II. The medal was presented posthumously for his actions on Butaritari. The U.S. Army Central Identification Laboratory Hawaii spearheaded the recovery effort, which began in August 1998. According to CILHI officials, the recovery of remains on Butaritari represents the largest and potentially the most significant to date. While the remains are believed to be those of the Marines killed in action on Butaritari, positive identification will still need to be carried out by CILHI. According to officials at CILHI, positive identification can take up to a year to complete. The nine living Marine left after the battle who were later executed on Kwajalein pose more of a problem. Nobody knows exactly where their remains might be. Quite possibly we never will. In the Makin Island case, the team interviewed an old man and learned that he was only 16 years of age when the Marine Raider Battalion invaded the Japanese occupied atoll. In fact, the man provided a unique contribution to the recovery process as he actually participated in the burial of the men that perished. Prior to contact with this witness, the team employed the use of a cesium magnetometer, with negative results, which is designed to detect subsurface anomalies. Despite the fact that the landscape has changed since the time of the burial of the men, the old man was able to lead the team to the exact location that the remains were found by the excavation team. In an interesting aside the only English the old timer knew was the Marine Corps Hymn, taught to him a year after the raid by another group of Marines who landed on the island, this time for good!
Now with all the background on this famous raid laid out we get to the knife part.
Myself along with several other knife historian / collectors were contacted by CILHI to possibly identify two pocket knives found at the site of the remains. Several e-mail letters between myself and Mr. Marvin E.ATripp@ Wiles of CILHI brought forth pictures of the knives in question. The first knife found was of the four blade Ascout@ type commonly referred to at the AUtility@ knife. The second knife was of the two blade AEasy Opener@ style. Both knives were commonly available in any hardware store in the USA. The shield on the utility knife seems to point it out as being an Ulster product while the easy opener could have been made by several firms. Blade markings would confirm these identifications. With any luck the photos will be good enough to reproduce here. So here they are, two real Marine Raider knives shown for the first time since they were buried in 1942.
Conetta and Bren-Dan
Some interesting info on Bren-Dan and Conetta. I stopped by the Bren - Dan address today just to check it out as I was passing through Stamford. It is still open and operating much to my surprise. I spoke with Pete Conetta the owner and an employee there since 1950. He remembered making the knives and bayonets quite well. Another employee there, Mike Sabia also worked for them at the time as a tool and die maker who also worked on the cutlery. Sadly they couldn't find anything such as paper work or old blue prints but Pete promised he would look for them in the attic. They did have a bag of old plastic grips and a bag of old leather washers for the Conetta Mark 2 Knives. That was about it for any old parts laying around. Pete had a bayonet there in his desk for use as a letter opener. It was a Bren-Dan M4. The Conetta address is directly across the street. I took some photos of the current location and tooling that they used in the making of the knives and bayonets. I toured the facility with them and they showed me some of the old grinding equipment used for the making of the bayonets. They had an example of the Conetta Mark 2 blade with the strange shaped leather handle and the M7 guard and butt that a fellow collector had sent to him. Pete stated they did NOT make them. "The blades were all sold to a fellow in New Jersey" during a closing sale when they shut down the Conetta plant across the street. This I already knew as the "NJ" place is SARCO who has sold these knives through the Shotgun News for many years. The original name of the company was Conetta Tool and Die Inc. The owner was Louis Conetta and his brother Anthony also worked for him. Somehow through the telling of the old story I had often heard it seems that Anthony was the original owner, not true. Financial difficulty shut down Conetta Tool and Die Inc. and the large factory. Bren-Dan was kept in the family as it was a different corporation. The name Bren-Dan was a contraction of the names of Louis Conetta's first two children Brenda and Daniel. He also had a third son Anthony who was born after the Bren-Dan name was already in existence. Louis died several years ago. They were not affiliated with J&D Tool Co. who also made bayonets and which is located just a few miles away. Pete knew of them as they had the same inspector come out from the govt to check on the items they were making. The strange part was the inspector was based in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and he was a sailor. Could it be that Conetta and Bren-Dan had a contract with the Navy Department (Marines) and that is the reason we could not locate records on them at Rock Island? Makes one think. Conetta started in business in 1946 and Bren-Dan sometime in the middle 1960's. They couldn't remember the exact dates. They also told me the inspector used to laugh that the bayonets being made by Bren-Dan were obsolete and wouldn't fit anything in the current US arsenal. He used to laugh at how they were "getting over" on the govt. Again makes me think the bayonets (M4's) were going to the S. Vietnamese govt. or some other Asian country we were giving aid to and that might be the reason that Rock Island did not have records on them? From the labeling found on a few Conetta boxes it equates to a Marine Corps contract and part number so that theory is valid. Below is a sample of the writing on a circa 1969 bayonet box produced by Conetta.
1005-716-0944BAYONET, KNIFE M-41 EACHDA-11-199-AMC-724 (W)A - 3/69
All these years of hearing about the Conetta and Bren-Dan connection and not really paying much attention to it, all it would have taken to check it out was to call them up and ask. Sometimes I really miss out on the easy ones!
M1917 / 1918 Trench Knives
OK folks let=s try this again, here goes another question for you. Which model is which?? I am looking for official government documentation with a photo or a description showing the differences between the M1917 Trench knife and the M1918 Trench knife. The major difference being in the way the guard is formed separates the models. Most references lump them together as the M1917/1918 Trench knife. I am not looking for secondary information, just primary sources, although opinions are always welcomed. Don=t get the M1918 confused with the M1918 Mk1 brass handled model, we can see the differences in that one! So far the only primary source with a photo is Crowell=s AAmerica=s Munitions@ printed by the GPO. It shows the flanged guard model as made by American Cutlery, Oneida Cutlery and H. Disston & Sons as the first type M1917 Trench knife. The L.F.&C. type with the pyramidal knobs would therefore be the M1918 knife. Crowell also states that Disston, one of the manufacturers as stated above, designed the knife. If this is the case wouldn=t the flanged model have been the first type? Why is it usually found stamped with a 1918 date? I have yet to see an L.F. & C. knife dated 1918, have you? I have seen H.D.&S knives dated 1918 but not 1917. I have seen O.C.L. knives dated 1918 but not 1917. I have seen A.C.C. knives with both dates on them. It gets pretty confusing. I have yet to see a picture from World War One with a soldier or Marine wearing a flanged model but have seen several of the knobbed model being worn. L.F.&C. knives being dated only 1917, shown being worn in pictures during wartime all leads me to believe this is the first model. Now here goes another zinger, why would the government convert from a high production type set up (pressed guard and peened pommel) to a more elaborate bent guard and threaded pommel in the specifications? During wartime needs this seems to be counter productive by slowing down the capability to pump out more knives. So there you have it, lots of questions in need of answers. How about it folks, can you help me out here??
Just saw a AWinter White M9 Bayonet today. It was made by Lan-Cay and submitted to the Army for testing. The blade, guard and latch plate on the bayonet were all standard Lan-Cay black production pieces. The handle was pure white. The scabbard body was white as was all the webbing. The cutter plate and the Bianchi snap fastener were all black standard pieces. I doubt it will get very far but who knows. Actually I think it is a great manufacturing gimmick as all of us collectors will now want one! For you folks wishing to pick one up this one was marked M9 / Lan-Cay / USA on the blade and LAN-CAY on the back of the Ano stone@ scabbard. The seller wanted $1000.00 for it, far as I know he still has it.
A tale of two Vince=s??
Recently I found some contract information on a World War Two contractor that manufactured the AHard Hat Divers Knives@ and machetes. Seen in M.H. Coles book III the Vince Diving knife is a hard to come by piece. In Cole IV he has a Vince Forge 18" M1942 machete shown, I still looking for one of those babies. Well the paperwork I found related to machetes made by Vince but this was Vince Fencing Equipment Co., Inc. of New York, NY. Well Vince Forge is in Easton PA which is a very short distance from the Big Apple but all the Vince Fencing Equipment Co. sales listed were for AForeign Missions@ not to the US and among those sales were machetes. The Vince Forge machetes are not marked US on the blade nor are they dated like all the other WW II made machetes. The one shown in Coles book IV has the original paper sticker on the blade which is written in Spanish, this really made me believe it was simply a commercial item in a military scabbard but I am not so sure anymore. Well anyway that is my theory for now. Vince Fencing Equipment Co. Inc made fencing equipment and machetes for the US government to be sold strictly to foreign aid missions, that part is fact. The machete contract I found was for $56,000.00 alone so at the WW II price of about $0.50 to $0.80 for a machete that would leave a lot of machetes to be found, where are they now?? I just wonder if it was the same Vince or was it actually a different company? Many companies had stores in New York City, it would have been a natural. But the company having a different name, now that makes me wonder. If you have any information on this I would love to hear it.
The Quartermaster pry bar knife. What a lot of hogwash that is but it=s tough trying to prove it. Still can=t find any really good records or the original specifications on these buggars. Well I can tell you that the US government bought over $1,250,000 worth of them for somebody! One contract, number 1913QM 11694 was right after a similar contract numbered 1913QM11693 issued to WR Case and Sons also for AHunting Knives@ so you tell me was that the 337Q-6" or what! Cattaraugus records do not exist, we have tried that route already. What we need is a lucky strike in the Quartermaster records to find some drawings or specifications sheets. That would help us prove that once and for all time that the Catt225Q knife was an issued knife to front line fighters early in the war. And all that stuff about the Quartermaster knives is true, but then again almost every knife purchased was purchased through the Quartermaster Department, that was their jobs! I have been having a great correspondence with the wonderful military knife writer Chuck Karwan on the topic of these knives, they are one of Chuck=s favorites. He has an outstanding article on them in the 1998 Knives Annual series. If you haven=t read it you need to do so, if you have you need to re-read it. Many of the items Chuck points out are being found out to be fact, not that I ever doubted him.
Randall Blade Markings
The controversy over the Fl. Vs. Fla. marked blade is over. According to recent findings by Rhett Stidham the FLA. stamp is being used today on stainless steel Randall Made blades and has been used intermittently ever since the 1984 introduction of the FL. stamp. On smaller Randall Made knives the FL. Stamp is the normal stamp used since 1984. On the larger stainless bladed models, the ones we are most concerned with here, the FL. and the FLA. stamps are both used and have been since 1984 when the wrong stamps were procured. So as we see there is no exact dating involved here except for the fact that a FL. marked knife is not older then 1984. But the key point is if you are paying more for a FL. marked or FLA. marked knife don=t bother, they may have been made yesterday. On another topic, if you don=t have the Randall CD for your computer you need to get it. What a great reference to these knives.
L.F. & C. in the Great War
In an unpublished manuscript by Barbara Ann Duggan dated 1953, Ms. Duggan writes about the great company of Landers, Frary and Clark. It is a wonderful company history that could only come from someone associated with the company. Alas I do not know what if any association Ms. Duggan had with L.F. & C. but the small excerpts on the cutlery section need to be told in her own words.
AThe cutlery department of Landers, Frary & Clark was one of the most active in the making of war supplies. Along with the first order for mess pans came one for aluminum handled Army knives, which formed a part of the mess equipment. As the months passed the production of these knives increased from 10,000 to 40,000 daily. Altogether, Landers made 7,825,212 of them. (WOW! my comments) All of the cavalry sabers produced during the war (93,487) were made by Landers. To make these, three additional storeys were built over the cutlery glazing building and machinery was installed for tempering, hardening and grinding. Production reached as high as 1,000 sabers a day shattering the prewar record of 50 a day. (This wasn=t a shot at Springfield Armory, I take it to be merely blowing their own horn, and rightly so at those numbers.)
Other pieces of cutlery made by the company for war purposes included 211,000 trench knives (1917 model three cornered blade and wooden handle); 119,261 trench knives, and scabbards (1918 model dagger blade and knuckled brass handle); 158,250 surgeons knives, varying from two to six inches in length; 5,00 parachute knives, 2,500 saddler=s knives and 204,217 Model 1918 tin scabbards for bolo knives.
Near the end of the war came an order for 500,000 bayonets. Still more floor space was required. The National Spring Bed Company=s building on High Street was purchased and equipped with special machinery for making bayonets. Federal inspectors declared it a model factory of it=s kind. Everything was ready for production the day the Armistice was signed, but it was never necessary to turn a wheel.@
Ms. Duggan goes on to talk about labor woes and chronic shortages of materials but they always put the war production first and let consumer commodities sit.
Several of the above figures I find fascinating, like 2,500 saddler=s knives?? What pray tell is a saddler knife and what does one look like? Is it martially marked in any way? If so you think one would have surely shown up by now. Although 2,500 is a very small number at least a few should have survived statistically. And the 1917 bolo scabbard. Why are they so hard to come by when over 200,000 of them were made? I guess they were melted down at some time for the aluminum or something. While we are on the subject why are they always dented at the tip? I can=t remember seeing one in a non-dented state! Must have been the way they were packed or something. OK the 158,000 scalpels I could understand, although it is a lot of knives you have to figure they were not the replaceable blade type of today and in a wartime setting this amount would be justified. 211,000 AModel 1917" knives made. That number is not seen anywhere else that I am aware of unless you have read y article on these knives. What I find interesting is the use of the term AModel 1917" as I still debate the Model / Model 1918 knife series. Which is which I want to know but I want photos or accurate descriptions in a government document. This is a second hand source written in 1953, although it seems to be a good one I will not take Ms. Duggan=s opinion as gospel. I will take her numbers though as they seem to be very close to some other published figures, at least the 1918 Mk1 knives do. We also see 5,000 parachute knives. I have only ever seen two of these knives in my collecting career so I know them to be rare. Again we have a small number of knives made with a small number remaining, this is a contributing factor of what makes a knife valuable. I wonder who came up with the idea of the hook knife, was it L.F. & C. or was it the US govt? I have never seen one in a museum or written up in any books on aircraft or flyers equipment, of which I own a few. Last but not least we see a large number of cavalry sabers produced. I guess that goes to show you where America stood at the beginning of World War One. Still had the romantic notion of a cavalry charge but the trenches and tanks soon put an end to that thought. This was the last large run of cavalry sabers to be produced., actually during WW I a new era was born which continued along a long procession of events. The sword was first a fighting instrument, owned by every soldier in the army, years later it became a symbol of an officers status and less of a weapon. In this continuing change of events the pistol replaced the saber as the status symbol of the field officer. To this day this is still apparent. with swords only being worn in a formal dress uniform situation. Anyway I digress, these are the numbers for L.F. & C. and the First World War.
Stevenson Manufacturing Co. Inc.
Those of you who have followed my writing have to know about the obsession I have with finding the company who made those all metal knives during World War Two marked on the bail, Stevenson. I have written about it often and always ask fellow collectors who are interested in those knives for any information they might have on them. Well the light can be seen at the end of the tunnel. In a recent discovery of a book produced at the end of World War Two held a single line of information I have been hunting down for years. To me I donít know which was a bigger discovery, this awesome book or the entry on Stevenson. The book is entitled, "Alphabetic Listing of Major War Supply Contracts, Cumulative June 1940 through September 1945". It is in four volumes numbered 1 to 4 and A through Z. It was produced by the Civilian Production Administration, Industrial Statistics Division. More about this later. It contained the entry for Stevenson as such:
Stevenson Mfg. Co. Inc, Rochester, NY Pocket Knives, U.S. Army contract with Quartermaster Corps # 28021 QM44800, Contract for $171,000 awarded 8/45 completed 12/45.
Not much to go on but it established they were a separate company with a place established to send bills to. The contract information only states they were paid $171,000, it does not break down the cost per knife so we can establish how many were produced. We do know that the all metal General Purpose (G.P.) Knife did cost more to make then the bone handle knives they were replacing through other documents of the time. They state the brass liners and Monel scales increased the price above those of the bone 4 blade utility knives. As the four bladed Engineers type knife was going for about $0.60 each it would be safe to say the G.P. knife would have gone for approx. $0.75, certainly not as high as $1.00 each. This would place about 225,000 to 250,000 knives into the hands of the troops. That is just an educated guess. Well now that we have established that Stevenson did in fact exist and they were an actual government supplier we move on to who they really were. My most recent theory was that they were related to Robeson Shuredge somehow. I base this on several Stevenson marked knives with the proprietary style can opener that only Robeson used. Now they could have came from the same factory or just purchased the parts from Robeson, that much we do not know. The theory grows stronger now that we has in fact narrowed down that Stevenson was in Rochester. Although Robeson was in Perry, NY the wartime owner, Saul S. Frankel was located in Rochester along with his other businesses. Emerson Case actually ran the Robeson factory for Saul. A few years ago I spoke with Saul Frankelís widow about Stevenson, she had no recollection of the name Stevenson but really was never involved that much in his businesses. I asked her what Saulís middle name was as that "S" it their have me hooked. She told me he didnít have a middle name and only chose the "S" because it looked good! Ruined my day. Anyhow we have contacted the Rochester Historical Society to see if they can run down any additional information on this elusive creature called Stevenson. Although they do not have copies of incorporation records they are checking to see what they can dig up for us. Like I said, light at the end of the tunnel. Now who was "AN", "Everitt", and a long line of others?
War Supply Contracts
As I said above this book find is extremely significant in the research of war production items. I have never seen it listed in any bibliographies or other works. It is over 1750 pages of contract information on every supplier to the U.S. government who had a contract for over $50,000, that was the cut off limit. Anything war associated is in there from Toilet paper to Tanks! A fellow researcher tipped me off to it in an exchange of information. The entire set of books have been scanned and are available on a searchable CD Rom disc. They are priced at $80.00 each for anyone interested in obtaining one. If you are serious in your research on any piece of equipment fielded by the U.S. in World War Two this is a required resource for you. It is not casual reading, it is only facts and figures. I have promotional items available if you are interested in obtaining a copy of the CD, let me know.
Some Very Expensive Hats
An excerpt from an Andy Rooney article I thought was amusing. Nothing to do with knives or any other cutlery items.
"Here's what did it this time: Two weeks ago, the
Pentagon announced that everyone in the Army, about half a million men and
women, be issued the black beret which, since 1975, has been the exclusive and
treasured symbol of the elite Rangers.
The Rangers were angry that the Army was taking away something they considered their trademark. The Army reacted, typically, by issuing a gag order. No active Ranger was to speak about the beret issue. The Army could control current members of the Rangers but not Rangers who had retired from the force.
The 75th Ranger Regiment Association not the (U.S. Army Rangers Association), were very indignant about the action, staged a demonstration near the Capitol in Washington. They got the sympathetic attention of several members of Congress and even President Bush.
Things seemed to be going good for them with the possibility the order would be rescinded. It seemed apparent to everyone that it had been a dumb move for the Army to take the black beret away from the Rangers and sentiment was clearly in their favor.
Suddenly, last Thursday, the Army announced that the Rangers had requested -- requested, they said -- that they be allowed to wear a tan beret instead of the black one. It was ludicrous. Army public relations put out an asinine statement that said in part, "The Rangers support the Army's decision to don the Black Beret and view this as another step forward in the overall Transformation of the Army." Oh, sure they do.
I was puzzled over why the Army had not caved in and made half a dozen phone calls to find out what the real story was. The idea that the Rangers asked to change their beret from black to tan was nonsense, of course. There was never any doubt that they wanted to keep their black beret.
So why did the Army arrange this phony request? Why didn't they simply back off and let the Rangers keep their black beret? Very simple. Because there are only about 2,000 Rangers and they had ordered 4 million black berets at a cost of about $22 million. It would have taken 2,000 Rangers until the year 4000 to wear out 4 million berets.
Following is the list of countries to which the Army gave contracts to produce the berets. Alongside those countries is the number of each of them is making and the amount the Army is paying them. Romania, 480,900 berets, $2.8 million; South Africa, 750,000 berets,
$4.4 million; India 390,000 berets, $2 million; Canada, 1,083,000 berets, $7.8 million; Sri Lanka, 240,000 berets, $1 million; China, 617,000 berets, $4 million.
It seemed particularly ironic that the U.S. Army is paying Communist China $4 million to make 600,000 berets. Maybe they are being made by Chinese journalists in prison for writing something the authorities didn't like."
I don't know what the "original" 1219C2 drawing called for, as I have never seen one. I do know the "original" spec sheet called for the tang to be "smooth and free of any sharp edges" to avoid tearing of clothing. I have seen the welded and ground smooth pommels on the first type knives. These knives have the red, black red spacers at the pommel. I have seen the welded and ground smooth pommel on the second type knives as well as the peened pommel. These knives have the "triple" black spacers at the pommel. I have seen blued and parkerized variations on both versions of the second type "Red Spacer" knives. I think it was how they were feeling that day which model they made. It doesn't follow any pattern to predict what they were doing. As I have stated before, much of the work on the first generation knives was done by hand. This can account for some of the variations in grinding and handle thickness, but pommels and finishes I am not too sure about. Possibly the finish differences can be traced back to Ordnance overhauls at a later date as I have seen models that were pitted or sharpened under the Parkerizing but never under the bluing. I have never seen a spec change which allowed a "loosening" of the pommel attaching method BEFORE the guard size change which coincides with all the Red Spacer knives. It happened for sure but I have not seen or read it anywhere and it is not noted in the design changes. I consider the red, black, red spacer Ka-bar knives the finest produced by Union Cutlery, second only to the Robeson USMC model, but the pattern of construction is difficult at best to follow.
Do you agree or disagree??
The earliest reference to a G-46 knife I could ever find was 1931. It was made in 4 1/4" 5" and 6" lengths only. It competed against the Kabar #271, #471, #571, #664, etc. Needless to say, Union Cutlery had several of these blade profile knives with different handle arrangements. Both actually competed against the Marbles Ideal pattern. Marbles made longer lengths and so did Union Cutlery, both had 7" blades of this profile long before the Marines ever thought of a belt knife. Western stayed with the short knives until after the Marines had their knives already. The first G 46-8 appeared in the 1945 Western catalog, it confirmed they had been made during the war but does not contain data on numbers produced. Western tried very hard to sell the pre- k-bar Marines on the L76 and L77 stilettos. Blaisch Cutlery, a Western jobber, also entered into the arena as a large supplier to the Marines on unit purchases but the Marines did not want the stiletto and adopted the 1219C2 pattern. When Western learned of this decision they made the G46 pattern bigger then the Marines knife on purpose. After the war the G 46 was again offered commercially but back to the short lengths of 5" and 6" only with an aluminum birds beak pommel. In the 1959 Western catalog they announced the new L46-8. It is the G46 renamed with the Western practice of numbering and lettering with handle material. Hence the L46 has leather handles, the W46 has wood handles etc. The L46-8 had the commercial birds beak pommel and a thick brass cross guard. At some point Western changed the aluminum pommel design but I have been unable to run down that date. The large aluminum pommel was announced on their hatchets in 1960 but the first knife photo I have seen was dated 1974. That's a lot of years in between but all I have so far. That's the G46 history that I am aware of can you add to it??
Pro-phy-lac-tic Brush Co.
That is one hell of a name for a company that makes tooth brushes, it just doesnít associate with something I want to stick in my mouth but as the man said "the times they are a changin." The Pro Brush Company of Florence, Mass. made bayonets for the military during World War Two. Yes those plastic bayonets purchased by the Navy and marked P.B. Co. in script writing were made by none other then Pro Brush in the Northampton factory. Pro Brush had two contracts over $50,000 entered into the log books with the Navy. The first contract, number NXS17249 was for $156,000.00, it was dated 11/1942 and considered completed on 6/1943. The second large contract, number XSO29524 was for $85,000.00, dated 5/1943 and considered completed on 7/1943. These bayonets were made for the Navy all wood training rifle. Most were used in boot camp for drill and marching purposes but many were assigned to guard prisoners. The Navy was low on the priority list for small arms so wood and plastic were issued for the mundane purposes while the real steel weapons went to front line troops. A letter I have, thanks to Carter Rila, dated March 9, 1943 spells this out when Pro Brush replies to a charge by the Navy that the bayonets will not fit on M1903 rifles that they had acquired by that time, well they werenít supposed to according to Pro Brush and they state several examples of drawings to prove it. Unfortunately I do not possess the drawings to go along with the letter. So there we have it, P.B. Co. marked bayonets were made by a very large toothbrush manufacturer. A month after the bayonet contract was awarded to Pro Brush the Navy discovered they couldnít get scabbards from the Army for the new bayonets so they had to contract with Victory Plastics to have their own made. In December of 1942 they issued a contract, number NXS19491 for $225,000. The new scabbards would be marked with the USN MK1 designation on the throat. Shortly thereafter on 3/1943 the Navy issued a contract, number NORD 3066 for $225,000.00 to Victory Plastics for more plastic bayonets. That was the only bayonet contract listed for Victory Plastics. While I havenít yet discovered the price per bayonet it would be nice to know, then we could accurately determine the number of bayonets produced by just doing the math. Anybody have those figures??
How many folks are still unaware of the S.W.I. marked machetes? They were made by Ontario Knife Co. for a company named Schreckís Wholesale Inc. in the 1970's. They are not World War Two issue machetes. S.W.I. also contracted with Camillus Cutlery Co. in the 1970's to have pocket knives made. These knives are the familiar all metal "General Purpose" four blade scout type knives better known as "MILK" knives from the article written by our good friend Dennis Ellingsen. These knives are stamped U.S.M.C. on the handles and have various dates from the 70's on the main blades. S.W.I. wholesaled the typical U.S. stamped blades to their customers and charged a $1.00 more for the U.S.M.C. marked knives. Seems the Marine marked knives and machetes sold well and commanded the extra buck as S.W.I. returned several times to have additional knives made. No harm, no foul, by the knife companies as these knives and machetes never existed so they are complete fantasy items. The foul comes into play when they are hustled off on unsuspecting collectors as legitimate items, usually for a much higher price. Unfortunately the S.W.I. machetes were inserted into M.H. Coles book and at that point were "legitimized" as WW II collectibles. Itís hard to reverse something like that once it is in print. D.E. Henry tried for years on his "V-44" crusade, alas the Collins No. 18 little machetes and the similar look a-likes made during WW II are still mistakenly known as "V-44" knives. What we need is a "Cole V" to correct all the various mislabeled items over the years. Probably wouldnít sell very well, most folks donít want to be told they have been scammed, tricked or made a fool of.
On a Similar Note
A recent conversation with I.D.S.A. Books over the status of reprinting Cole IV brought about some surprise. They are thinking about a reprint but as a combined volume of Book III and Book IV. Sounds like a great idea to me. They really do complement each other and they are not replacements of any sort. But again I would love to see a re-write of the material inside the book, leave the drawings alone just update the text with the information that has been accumulated since the original publishing. Just a small item to wish for. If you agree, call I.D.S.A. Books and tell them so, canít hurt. On the flip side are the purists who think it is sacrilege to attempt any change to Mr. Coles classics, I agree to a point, thatís why it should be called Book V. Now argue with that logic!
Picked up a really great Theatre or Shop knife yesterday. It is a Mark 2 Ka-Bar blade with an aluminum and Plexiglas handle. It never ceases to amaze me the amount of work and thought that goes into some of these knives. This one has the regular clear and black Plexiglas discs but in the clear discs are small pieces of wire. The thin gage wire is colored yellow, green, red, blue and black. All these small pieces are randomly inserted into the clear discs and make up a pattern. The tang has been painted white to enhance the reflection of the colored wires. A full cross guard made of aluminum and a birdís beak aluminum pommel round it off. The time and effort that went into the making of this knife must have been immense. Along with the knife were some period photographs. My wife commented it is such a pity to have a family item such as these for sale at a flea market. Itís a sign of the times I guess.
Just in from our good friend and ever vigilant observer in England, Peter White. " The feature below was in The Daily Telegraph of today (18April) and has made me smile all day......"
"The other day, the Army's press office received an unusual request. "A researcher from a TV cookery programme wrote to us saying that they had heard that the Gurkhas do 'a famous cookery dance', and asked if they could film it for the show," I'm told. "We fell about. I think they had misheard." The kukri is the name given to the wicked curved knives with which the Gurkhas terrify their enemies and open their champagne. "It's a weapon of war - not a celebration of cooking," explains a spokesman for the Ministry of Defence!"
I would have kept up the gag and invited them down to film it, that would have been a laugh! Thanks Peter!
Just received some more documents from the National Archives I had requested almost a year ago. I had forgotten all about this one. I guess they did too, must have slipped behind a desk or something as they are usually very good about these requests. Like clockwork you can expect a response in 16 weeks. Really! Well anyway the two page document is a part of a larger document reporting up to the Commandant of the Marine Corps. This one is dated 14 October 1942. Listed under "Individual and Organizational Equipment" is a heading for Knives, Miscellaneous. Here is a quick clip from the document. "The Western States Cutlery Company of Boulder, Colorado has offered several different types of knives for the Board for test. These knives have not as of yet been received." This predates the earlier documents written about above which is the actual results of these tests. So we can see Western was very active in trying to grasp a government contract. It goes on to state, "Captain Young USMC, has also offered a knife to the board for consideration. This knife was made up for Captain Young by the Hamlin Metal Product Company of Akron Ohio. Pending the receipt of the knives from the Western States Cutlery Company, no action was taken by the Board." OK so what does a "Hamlin Metal Product Company" knife look like?? Sadly to say a picture or drawing did not accompany the documents. I have searched most of the remaining Equipment Board files and have not seen one for these knives, the Western or the Hamlin items. It never fails, get one more clue to one mystery and another one pops up in itís place. Now does anyone out there know of the Hamlin Metal Products Company? Are they still in business?? I am just full of questions anymore.
Bayonet Knuckle Knife
Along that same line we also have a new bayonet design submitted to the Equipment Board by another young Marine. Captain James L. Webb, USMC submitted a bayonet idea to take the standard M1905 bayonet, shorten the blade to 8-3/4" and add a knuckle bow to it. This he states is more in line with the "Biddle" method of fighting currently being taught at boot camp. As we know Anthony Joseph Drexel Biddle was a famous fencer and bayonet instructor who was brought back from retirement by the USMC to once again instruct the instructors in the methods of bayonet fighting. What is funny about this is the fact that only a short year down the road the government would in fact shorten the blades on the standard bayonet to 10 inches using the standard M1905 as the basis for this new "M1" bayonet. They would not adopt the knuckle guard unfortunately. It would have made for a great collectors item! But it was the opinion of the board that the cost of change over and the difficulty in production outweighed the benefits of this move. So for the time being they shelved the project, to be revisited at a later date. This one does have a picture so we can see what it is we are looking for. I have never seen one but itís a big world out there. Does anybody have one of these "Webb" knives??
Click on Thumbnail to enlarge photo
Aerial Machine and Tool Co. Inc.
Those shroud and canopy line cutters packed with parachutes marked Aerial M&T LICNY are not products of the old Aerial Cutlery Manufacturing Co. Marionette Wisconsin. Aerial M&T is Aerial machine and Tool Co. Inc. and they are located in Long Island City New York. Long Island City is located in Queens just across the river from Manhattan. It is a small, mainly industrial section of the Big Apple. So the cutter pictured on Coles Book III page 143 is not from Wisconsin. As far as them being out of use I am not so sure. They are currently stocked by the Air Force and the Navy along with the Defense Logistics Center in Richmond Va. The only way to get a hold of one is to pop open a parachute, something not to many aviators are willing to try! They are currently a good part number and last made by General Aviation in Texas, and they are still listed as the current manufacturer. The proper term for them is "Pocket, Cutter and Line" which is actually pretty descriptive. The webbing it is wrapped in is the pocket, the knife is the cutter and the thong which holds the two together is the line. No use of extra words in this description. These cutters were used in the same time frame as the switchblade knives which is strange as the redundancy is unusual in personal gear for weight purposes. While looking into this I questioned Camillus on the single bladed folding line cutter they made. According to Tom Williams, Company Historian of Camillus those folders were made for non-military buyers who would have been illegal with a switch blade knife. I never knew that. Well I have managed to run off course again so back to the topic. Aerial is still a government supplier but they have relocated at some time in the past. They are now located in Vesta, Virginia and still operate under the name of Aerial Machine and Tool Corp. Their old CAGE Code (Commercial and Government Entity Code) is 70133 and the new one is 0C8E1 for anybody who wants to look them up. The current part number for the "Pocket, Cutter and Line" is 60C6037 for those so interested in further exploration.
Canopy Breaker Tool
While plugging along on the above research as so often happens I tripped over another item I have wondered about, the Canopy Breaker Tool. This heavy piece of solid steel is called a knife by some. The heavy piece of equipment with circular knurled handle and welded blade is government part number 61 D 4383 which crosses over to the NSN of 1680-00-083-7011. Stocked by the Defense Logistics agency the knife has a government cost of $84.84 each with holder. I wouldnít give you $10.00 for it as a knife but if trapped inside a cockpit that heavy weight tool would indeed be something I was looking for. This was an instrument really designed as a pry bar, not like the so called Quartermaster knives, the heavy pommel could strike the Plexiglass while the knife edge would extract or pry out the pieces. Stocked by the Air Force as well as the Navy these items if needed can be procured thru Weber Aircraft Inc., Special Products Division located in Fullerton Calif. Weber Aircraft was formerly a division of Kidde Inc. They currently operate under the CAGE Code of 92824 for those so interested in further digging. I have seen two types of these knives in the past few years, one with the welded on blade and another which seems to be completely machined from a solid block of steel. While I occasionally see the knives for sale the mounting brackets are very seldom seen. I guess itís easy to swipe the knife but a real bear to get the bracket out?? One I had purchased some time ago had several coats of paint on it. Scratching down through the layers I found white, green (actually olive drab) and black. Iím not sure of the reason behind this but it seems to have been done by someone other then the factory as the paint coatings were of inconsistent thickness and texture. Maybe to match with the curtains and the rug??
Nothing To Do With Knives Again
Take that bet with your friends or co-workers and win it big. It seems the more I ask people the answer is always the same, was George Washington the first President?? Everybody looks at you funny and answers yes, well the correct answer is no he was not. In fact there were seven (7) before him. The official title was "President of the United States in Congress Assembled." The position was the presiding official in congress, not what we currently think of as President but it was at the time. They were:
John Hanson (1781), Elias Boudinot (1783), Thomas Mifflin (1784), Richard Henry Lee (1785), Nathan Gorman (1786), Arthur St. Clair (1787), and Cyrus Griffin (1788). They all served under the "Articles of Confederation" BEFORE the present Constitution was adopted. That is the cut off date that Washington was elected and the counting began.
Watch Your Back
While we are talking about Presidents, did you notice that when George W. steps off of "Marine One" he is given the perfect salute by the Marine NCO in Dress Blues just like every other President before him was. But things have changed just a little. Watch closely as the Marine does the perfect "Right Face" as George W. walks past him. This was NEVER done with the previous occupant of the White House. It is an old tradition of the Marine always facing the higher ranking official to await a command, even if it is the commanders back. It may have been a small victory but the Marines NEVER faced the last guy and really didnít care what he thought of them. I donít think the media ever picked up on it but it made me smile a bit.
Mark 2 Markings
We constantly see Mark 2 knives advertised as "Vietnam" issue pieces. Well we know better as some of these knives were not yet made when the United States withdrew from the war. They may very well have been in Vietnam but not while the U.S. Forces were fighting there! So with that said we can say that any Mark 2 with the markings of U.S. / Camillus or U.S. / Ontario were not in Vietnam when the U.S. fighting was going on. The U.S, / Camillus is very close as the switch over to this marking occurred on 1 Feb 1974. So if you choose the 1975 ending to the Vietnam War this is a Vietnam era knife. If you choose the 1973 ending version it is a post war knife. It certainly did not ride on the hip of a U.S. serviceman humping the boonies, that was over by then. These knives are often attributed to S.O.G. troopers and such, baloney, that is marketing hype or to put it in not so politically correct words "a lie." I have seen these knives in large publications with captions saying something about "Vietnam" like the knife was there. This just perpetuates that lie and continues the story. If gone uncorrected, it becomes the "truth" as the story is told and retold. Donít buy it and donít spread it. The U.S. / Ontario marked knives were first made in 1980 so if you heard about this one being in Vietnam quietly excuse yourself and make tracks for the door, itís getting deep in there. Although Ontario did have earlier contracts with the Jet Pilot Knives, the contract for the Mark 2 came much later. As for the U.S. / M.S.I. marked knives I still havenít a clue as to who they were / are? Do you?
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