knife knotes part IX
July 4, 2003 Update
Happy Independence Day!
"We began as a small, weak republic. But we survived. Our example inspired others, imperfectly at times, but it inspired them nevertheless. This constitutional republic, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal,
prospered and grew strong. To this day, America is still the abiding alternative to tyranny. That is our purpose in the world -- nothing more and nothing less. To carry out that purpose, our fundamental aim in foreign policy must be to ensure our own
survival and to protect those others who share our values. Under no circumstances should we have any illusions about the intentions of those who are enemies of freedom." --Ronald Reagan
Time sure flies when you are having fun, where did this month get to? We are running behind in publishing but not for lack of items to write about, in fact we are overwhelmed with stuff. Hundreds of questions and answers this month along with many packages arriving in the mail have kept us away from doing the daily notes. In fact a package or two just arrived that will take quite some time to digest. Thanks to our co-conspirators we have a great month lined up anyway. Gary has an awesome article on a much overlooked bayonet that just happens to be one of our favorites. Mike Silvey has some photos of his knives to drool over as usual. We feature another exotic bayonet from the American Military Edged Weaponry Museum. And last but not least our humble scribbling on a few pieces that managed to catch our attention. One with the show…
More Bayonet 2000
As we are all aware the Marine Corps stated in the Commerce Business Daily dated September 25, 2001 their intention to sole source supply the new bayonets with Eickhorn in Solingen Germany for their Bayonet 2000. These bayonets were made with and without wire cutter attachments. The Marines selected the model without the wire cutter devices to keep it simple. In less then two weeks all hell broke loose from the comments along with the sourcing statement that Eickhorn was the only one who could supply the needed 5,000 per week with the Eagle Globe and Anchor engraved on the blades. Someone didn’t do their homework too good on that one. Nevertheless the contract and negotiations were rescinded in October and a bid system was used in the place of the sole source contract. Many months of bidding and testing went by before the final selection. In the end it appears Ontario has come out the victor and will supply the USMC with their first true production USMC spec’ed bayonet in the Corps history. (They have always used the Army or Navy bayonets in the past, think about it.) Well with the testing and secrecy over with the Eickhorn Bayonet 2000 has hit the street in production amounts. These are purely commercial pieces but to hold the rather dubious distinction of being the first bayonet chosen by the Marines to be their own. It may only go down in the history books as a footnote and not a proper "issued" bayonet it will someday become part of the lore. So for that we intend to document it right here and now for future generations to see. Last month we ran a short piece on the USMC Bayonet 2000 as selected by the Marines. This month we feature the wire cutter version. Not really a whole lot different aside from the obvious cutter plate and matching hole in the blade, but we felt the need to document it. Both pieces use the same latch plate affixed with a Phillips head screw through the tang. The same handle is used on both as it the same muzzle ring guard. The scabbard is the same basic design with the plastic body affixed to a web strap via Velcro and metal snaps. The difference is in the locking mechanism on the plastic scabbard body. There is a clamping screw that when tightened will clamp down on the bayonet blade internally in the scabbard body. This is turn will prevent the bayonet from accidentally falling out of the scabbard should the retaining strap or snap fail. It can also be set to a tension that will prevent the bayonet from falling out loosely but still allow the retaining strap to be undone on purpose for a quick grab if needed in a tactical situation. Right below the locking screw is a small piece of diamond stone available for a quick touch up. The web strap like the non wire cutter is set up for attaching to MOLLE type gear with many straps on the rear for various mounting options. Markings on the blade omit the USMC reference but still list the product as the Bayonet 2000 with the WC added. Incidentally Bayonet 2000 is trade marked and a Patent is pending on the new bayonet. We hope to add it to the Patent page one day.
Click on the thumbnails so see the full size photos of the Bayonet 2000 WC
Words to sleep by...
George Orwell's admonition: "We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm."
Another on going test in the U.S. Military is for the new Aircrew Survival / Egress Knife. We don’t have a list of all the manufacturers involved in the bidding and design work but we do have one of the knives submitted here to display. Another product of Eickhorn the new ASEK is available on the commercial market. Quite an interesting knife or more aptly a tool as cutting is only one item this is capable of. The ASEK is modular in design with the blade being to two parts. The back has a double row of teeth for sawing on both the push and the pull strokes. We aren’t sure how good this will work as we have never seen anything quite like it, even on a saw! It is produced and intended to cut Plexiglass, laminated glass, aluminum and lastly wood. The main cutting edge is also a bit different as the point and first two inches of the cutting edge are typical knife design but then there is a cut out to allow a second edge for pull cutting much like a seatbelt cutter would be. Perhaps cutting harness material from a parachute is the idea but on all other we have noted there is a rounded point to prevent stabbing. The final bit of blade is a typical serrated edge. All the steel in use id stainless steel powder coated for non reflection purposes. The full size handle makes for a comfortable grip even if wearing gloves, It is produced from injection molded plastic with both sides being flat while the top and bottom are contoured and grooved. A thong hole is set into the bird’s head pommel and a steel spanner nut is recessed into the top to hold the whole works together. The spanner nut is also slightly pointed to act as a window puncher. The only markings on the handle are the Eickhorn squirrel and Pat.Pend. The blade is marked with the A.S.E.K. logo and the Eickhorn trademark. Below that is Made in Germany, all markings are engraved into the blade. The scabbard is a ballistic nylon pouch with a plastic insert riveted into it permanently. There is a loop on the rear to allow for fastening it to a belt but it also equipped with a set of nylon straps to allow it to be affixed to a leg or arm. Fastex type buckles are on both straps to allow quick removal or repositioning on the gear. Included are some tools such as a small push-dagger type of knife to be used for skinning, a screwdriver is incorporated into the handle of it. A small diamond impregnated steel is in a pouch on the rear and a small awl is mounted in the front. Overall a nice neat package, light in weight and flat for easy carry. Remember the first object for the downed crewman is to get out of the plane, and in this instance this knife would be a great help. We will be staying tuned to see what other companies come up with in the ASEK trials. So far so good.
Click on the thumbnails so see the full size photos of the ASEK
An Issue of "Issue"
As the faithful reader knows we always take "issue" with semantics. One of the favorite words we hear constantly in this field is "Issue." Just what does it mean to a military knife collector? Ask ten folks and you will most likely get ten different responses. So when a fellow says "this knife was issued to me in 1944" do we take that as meaning it was; designed, built, procured, warehoused, distributed, and accounted for by the selected branch of the military appropriate to the gentleman; or does it mean a higher ranking individual handed it to him? Being issued a Model of 1905 bayonet would be a lot different then being issued a Kinfolks six-inch hunting knife although no doubt both were at one time issued. Perhaps even to the same man! The best example we can come up with is the "Save a Life With a Knife" campaign in World War Two. Thousands of knives were collected around the country for "issue" to servicemen all over the globe. Quite possibly any knife ever made longer then 5 inches would fit this bill. These were really issued to the men, even reports of Hitler Youth Knives! So when a fellow says "this knife was issued to me in 1944" he very well could be telling the truth. Much of it may be due to a lapse of memory but others are as fresh as the day it happened. So what are we to do with this word "issue" in the vocabulary of the collector? We have tried to treat it by the latter description above, any knife handed to a man by a superior. You can add any prefix or suffix or contraction to it but it still comes out the same. Government Issue… Military Issue… Issuing Authority… All the same when you think about it. This does not only take place in the WW II era. I have seen bayonets from arms lockers that should not be there. Buck commercial produced M9’s are somewhat rare but are found. These could have been substituted by a fellow who lost one or just a trade to take the "real" one home. M7 bayonets by just about anyone and even those unmarked are currently in inventory somewhere. I have seen them. So if an AKI marked M7 bayonet is "issued" to a Marine does it mean he really wasn’t "issued" it? Not hardly. We just need to listen a little bit closer to the story and use common sense. Pictured below is a knife "issued" to a Navy SEAL in California many years ago… What do you think?
Click on the thumbnails so see the full size photos of the SEAL "Issue" Knife
A Slotted Marine Bayonet
Here is a wonderful USMC document supplied to us by our good friend Alec Tulkoff.
OK so we give… has anyone seen one? Own one? How about a photo of it?? Inquiring minds want to know…
How about a few choice phrases from the Land of the Jihad and the religion of peace
These are called hadiths. They are traditions concerning the actions and utterances of the Prophet;
The nip of an ant hurts a martyr more then the thrust of a weapon.
Paradise is in the shadow of swords.
Learn to shoot, for the space between the mark and the archer is one of the gardens of paradise.
No wonder they have been fighting almost continuously since circa 600AD
Wearing the Edged Weapon in the Navy
In a recent e-mail from our good friend Carter Rila we were directed to an interesting government site. It lists the wearing of Navy uniforms and the appropriate devices and accoutrements. It was surprising and great reading. We have snipped a small portion of it to post here those parts that have a bearing on edged weapons. Entertaining and enlightening.
3. USS CONSTITUTION CREW
a. General. The Commanding Officer, USS
CONSTITUTION, provides regulation 1813 pattern naval
uniforms. The 1813 pattern uniform is organizational
issue clothing. Only personnel permanently assigned to
USS CONSTITUTION may wear Navy-issued 1813 pattern
uniforms. The 1813 pattern uniform is designated as
either "Winter 1813s" or "Summer 1813s." The uniform is
modeled on U.S. Navy Uniform Regulations of 23 November
1813 and will normally be worn to educate and inform the
public about early naval heritage.
b. Officers. There are two distinct 1813
officer uniforms: one worn by the Commanding Officer
and the other by Lieutenants. The U.S. Navy Pattern
1813 Eagle hilt sword may be worn as a sidearm, when
authorized by the Commanding Officer.
c. Chief Petty Officers: wear the same shirt,
stock and trousers as officers. The U.S. Navy Pattern
1814 straight edged cutlass may be worn as a sidearm,
when authorized by the Commanding Officer.
d. Enlisted (E6 and below): wear the same
jacket, shirt, trousers and footwear as the chief petty
officers. The U.S. Navy Pattern 1814 straight edged
cutlass may be worn as a sidearm, when authorized by the
Commanding Officer. Female personnel may wear their
hair tightly braided in the traditional Sailor’s pigtail
when in 1813 uniform to add authenticity to the 1813
uniform and to permit proper wear of the flat glazed
e. CONSTITUTION Unit Identification Mark
(UIM). Enlisted personnel, E6 and junior, are
authorized to wear an identifying sleeve path (IUM) on
their modern regulation uniforms while assigned to USS
CONSTITUTION. The patch has the ship’s name with six
white stars embroidered (three on either side of the
name) symbolizing the six original frigates of the U.S.
Navy, with the ship’s nickname "Old Ironsides"
embroidered underneath – a reminder of the nation’s
enduring commitment to the Navy’s oldest warship, still
6407. WEDDING ATTIRE
1. MILITARY. For military weddings, follow these
SWORDS. Swords are not usually carried in a house
of worship, but the sword belt without scabbard may be
carried with Full or Dinner Dress uniforms with end clips
fastened together. For this occasion, if you plan to form
an arch of swords through which the bridal party will pass,
draw swords outside the house of worship.
1. U.S NAVY CEREMONIAL GUARD, WASHINGTON, D.C.
Enlisted Personnel (E6 and below)
(c) Petty officers and non-rated personnel
performing in place of petty officers, wear a
white or black pistol holster on the guard belt
positioned slightly forward of the right hip. Petty
Officers and non-rated personnel carrying a rifle with
bayonet, wear a white bayonet scabbard on the guard belt
positioned on the left hip (with the exception of drill
team members who wear nothing on the guard belt).
(d) The ceremonial uniform for nonrated
personnel includes rifle with white rifle sling.
Fix the rifle with a chromed bayonet.
(e) Trousers legs are bloused above
(f) All-weather coat and/or peacoat
are worn according to weather conditions.
(g) The white guard belt is worn outside
of every coat.
(h) All non-rated personnel shall now
wear their assigned rating, such as AN, SN, FN, etc.
(i) Drill team no longer wears
helmets. They wear their appropriate covers.
(j) All personnel assigned shall wear
highly polished brass belt buckle and tie bar in place
of silver accessories for uniformity.
2. HONOR GUARDS AND OTHER CEREMONIAL PERSONNEL
(3) Personnel Under Arms. Officers and
Chief Petty Officers wear pistol and pistol belts in
parades with enlisted men under arms. The sword and
sword belt may be prescribed in lieu of the pistol and
pistol belt for wear by officers required to have this
equipment. Other male officers may wear the sword if
provided. When carrying the pistol, wear the belt
outside of coat, with the holster slightly in front of
the right hip. If only one magazine pocket, wear it to
the left of the buckle. If two pockets, place them to
the right and left of the buckle. White pistol belt and
holster cover (or bayonet scabbard) may be prescribed on
shore stations. When the bayonet is prescribed, the
bayonet scabbard is worn on a guard belt positioned on
the left hip. Enlisted men under arms for parades or
other ceremonies ashore, for infantry drill or on guard
detail at shore activities may wear leggings when
So from this we find that the M1813 and the M1814 swords are still "issue" items in the United States Navy. Snuck that word in there pretty good aye…
Thanks to Carter for pointing it out to us, that is great stuff, just what Knife Knotes is all about!
Benchmade Autos in the War
We have correspondence with active duty folks all over the world in many different nations militaries as well as our US men. In this one below we are treated to a few notes on the current Benchmade auto knives currently in service over in the desert. There is much to be learned from these notes on the current status of knives in the military. This one is from a Master Sgt. Ron Levering in the desert.
"As far as the Benchmade knives, they are not controlled like the orange handle parachute (loadmaster knives). In our unit, only the aircrew are authorized to be issued the orange handled auto's. I don't know why the issue of them is controlled when the issue of the Benchmades are not. I believe the orange handle knives are about $35.00 in the GSA catalog. I don't think the Benchmades are listed in the GSA catalog. The Benchmade auto's cost the government: NSN 1095-01-446-4348 $137.51, NSN 1095-01-456-4457 $182.00. The Government also issues a nice fixed blade Benchmade knife; NSN 1095-01-466-8569 $125.55.I have both of the Benchmade Auto's, the drop point style and the Tanto blade. I'm trying to get a fixed blade as they sure look good. I have seen a guy that got issued a Benchmade auto that was a drop point style but did not have the blade serrations. I believe they are no longer produced. I will be looking for one like that.
I'm a mechanic on c-130 aircraft. Its a little boring over here."
Boring is good M/Sgt. Thank You, Stay Safe and God Bless.
Photos supplied by Ernie Roark, Thanks Ernie!
To whom it may concern,
Could I trouble you to continuously (until November 15, 2003) publish our reunion in your respective newsletters, magazines and related web site publications.
Than you very much for your consideration.
N. David Leifer
Captain, USAF Retired.
UM Army ROTC, Class of 1971
HELLO FUTURE ALUMNI MEMBERS AND FRIENDS:
To learn about the UM / FIU ARMY ROTC ALUMNI ASSOCIATION and our website, please contact Domingo Chang our Webmaster at email@example.com . Send Dom your Name, Address, Phone number(s) and most importantly your e-mail address and he'll post it on our web site. Please visit our website at: http://www.pmdnetworks.com/rotc
Our site requires a user name / password for access due to the posting of alumni personal information. If you were a Cadre Member, a Graduate Alumnus or Former Participants in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) programs at the University of Miami, Florida International University and their sister colleges, please e-mail the webmaster using the e-mail link below and he'll get you on board and inside the listing. We invite all ROTC members (CADRE and CADETS) to come into our ranks. We are a word of mouth organization. Therefore, we need your support and camaraderie to accomplish our tasks and goals. This is a way to keep in touch with your classmates, continue to maintain liaisons, friendships and to continue to keep abreast with the activities and functions. Some of our members are now overseas to AFGHANISTAN, OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM, SOUTH KOREA and other sensitive locations where the U.S. Flag must fly. Here's hoping our Brothers and Sisters in uniform go Godspeed, Good Luck and Good Hunting! We want to see all of the troops return home safely!!! You can view who's deployed looking for the service star flag beside the member's name on the website. If you know of others who are also deployed, please let me know so I can update the website accordingly. Thank You One and ALL, Bill Jennewine, Class of 1967; N. David Leifer, Class of 1971; Domingo Chang, Class of 1982
UM / FIU ARMY ROTC ALUMNI ASSOCIATION REUNION ANNOUNCED:
The University of Miami announced its homecoming held on the week ending Nov. 13 - 16, 2003. Our organizers want to start planning the next UM / FIU ROTC Alumni reunion and need assistance to determine the number who will be attending. They seek notification of any friends and former ROTC alumni. This is for families and ROTC participants who were unable to complete the training. The organizers want to plan this year's reunion while it's early. This will aid the planning crews' logistics, accommodations and agenda. They want to provide all of the attendees with a rich and fun filled weekend. Costs and an events' agenda will be published as soon as they get your suggestions, totals and data from the attendees. For those who were UM Air Force ROTC members, this is your chance to attend and become acquainted with us as your colleagues, comrades and friends. All Past, Present ROTC Cadets and Future Alumni stay in touch. Please renew old contacts and spread the word.
If you know of another former Cadre and Grad's e-mail address, home/business phones and addresses, forward this data to Domingo Chang firstname.lastname@example.org and David Leifer email@example.com. They'll display it on the UM/FIU Army ROTC Alumni Association's Web Site. For more details about the reunion, suggestions or if you can assist in planning, its support and operations, contact:
Bill JennewineBgtd96@aol.com .
11015 Browning Road, Lithia, Fl. 33547
Tel.: 813-681-7844 E-mail:
A Great Website to Visit
Kinda puts things into perspective from here.
The Big Man Puts Out a Video
Please be advised that the new and long awaited bladesmithing video by Master Bladesmith Charles Ochs is ready to ship! This 2 hour video features the construction of the Special Ops Bowie from beginning to end, including the sheath. With a voice over sound track and a musical
background, this video is in Digital DVD format with an 8 page booklet showcasing photos from the video and a forward written about Charles' 30 years as a knifemaker.
The DVD was the hit of the annual Blade Show in Atlanta. With the ABS buying 50 and another 75 sold on the show floor this video project has already proven to be a great success. Can't wait to get it on the web site.
If still interested in receiving a copy of this exciting video, please send your check for $45.00, made out to:
124 Emerald Lane
Largo, Fl. 33771
Well known as a friend to the Special Ops field Charlie is also just a great all around guy and a true Master in his field. Check it out!
Click on the thumbnail to see the full size photo of an Ox Air Commando.
Charlie was the originator of the Black Knife craze.
Short and sweet this month, we have much in store so stay tuned!
We are all taking a break this month so there will not be an update. The son is just back from Iraq, bought a Harley with some back pay and we have all been doing family stuff.
Life is good...
All the best
Updated Sept. 1, 2003
The time off was great, a break was needed to catch our breath as the world was spinning fast. In fact that was the first installment we have missed in years. But we are back and ready to go, there are books, knives and bayonets all over the floor here in the library of all sorts waiting to be photographed and written up. A lot has been going on in the cutlery world recently and we hope to fill you in on some of it. On with the show.
Our good friend Alec Tulkoff has finished his tome of United States Marine Corps gear used in World War Two and what a book it is! Alec has put years of archival research into print. Using period photographs and solid contract data together to produce a volume to be studied and enjoyed by collectors and historians alike. No stone was left unturned in his journey contacting many advanced collectors and primary sources such as the National Archives, USMC Air & Ground Museum, USMC Command Museum, USMC University Archives and the Aberdeen Ordnance Museum. Any facts stated by the author are back up with endnotes and documentation to prove it. The Appendices and Bibliography are a fountain of information for continued research into your favorite area of study. From uniforms to lists of serial numbers on weapons Alec has included so much never before seen information it is a wonder it could all be included in one book! Naturally the edged weapon section is one of our favorites and worth the price of the book alone. We would suggest this book as a must have to anyone who is interested enough to be reading this column as a great journal to use for reference and just pure reading enjoyment. Kudos to Alec for a job well done. It will be many years, if ever, that this work is topped. Destined to become the classic on Marine Corps gear this is a must have for your library. To purchase a copy of the book contact Alec direct at firstname.lastname@example.org
Click on the thumb nail for the full size photo
The Spirit of the Pike
While we are at it another book has just been recently released that needs to be in your library. Our friend Graham Priest has just published his study on the British Spike bayonet. While not a favorite topic of ours we purchased a copy of the book as we can not resist anything that covers bayonets. Much to our surprise it is a masterful work on the subject covering far more then we had ever imagined. Naturally our favorite section was the U.S. participation and what a shock it was. After years of research we have done into U.S. knives and bayonets we have learned more in this single chapter about these bayonets then we had in our lifetime! Graham has put together a study on the almost common item that is so in-depth it is mind boggling, period photos of the bayonets, the factories they were made in, the people making them and the documentation to back it all up in chapter endnotes. Again, as with the above book it will be years, if ever, that this book is topped. Destined to become the classic on the spike bayonet, you need to have this one in your library. Contact Graham direct at email@example.com to purchase your copy.
Two fantastic books at one time, life is good!
Click on the thumb nail for the full size photo
A Collection for Sale
Our good friend Bob Tronolone is selling his impressive collection of military knives. While this is certainly bad news to us as Bob is one of the good guys he is off to other endeavors and we wish him well. His collection holds some really great knives. Bob can be contacted through his website at www.militaryknives.org with any thing you may wish to purchase. We bought and are extremely satisfied.
Eickhorn Knives and Bayonets
To those of you interested in obtaining a USMC "approved" Bayonet 2000 or the current candidate for the Army ASEK trials simply go to http://www.military-knives.com/ and purchase one. Although they are not current military issue it is about as close as you can come to being one. As politics have entered the arena with the "buy American" provision they most likely never will become issue items either. They are well designed and well made, most right here in the U.S., pieces worthy of hard use or your collection. They are now available in the U.S. without a long wait or a heavy search.
A Few Interesting Dates
The official birth date of the USMC 1219C2 Fighting / Utility knife is well known as November 23, 1942 as that is the date it was officially approved by the Commandant of the Marine Corps. Here we find that on December 17, 1942 the official issue was laid out in order of most urgent need for the first 200,000 knives. What a wonderful little document and our thanks to Alec Tulkoff for providing it to us.
Click on the thumb nail for the full size photo
Another Interesting Document
Here we find a cover letter that did not have the attachments with it. Seems Western States Cutlery was invited to the bid for the 1219C2 knife also. We would love to see the response letter from Western that was attached to this original letter. Perhaps it would tell us why the Western produced examples did not follow the pattern of the other manufacturers or the reason that Western did not make the knife for Government issue, or perhaps they did…
Click on the thumb nail for the full size photo
Bayonets for Nuclear Safety
The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration Service Center located in Albuquerque, New Mexico intends to award a contract to Bushmaster Inc. for the purchase of conversion parts for the guard forces rifles. Among the parts will be stripped full auto receivers, telescoping stocks, flash suppressors and M4 barrels with bayonet lugs. While we see nothing wrong with any of this, and in fact applaud it, we wonder of the bayonets? Will they be using the M7, the M9 or the new Ontario USMC version? We hear through the grape vine that Camillus is working on a bayonet with a finger grooved handle but they are very secretive on it so far. If anyone has any information on the project bayonet the NNSA will be using we would love to hear it!
Since the gear up for the War on Terrorism begun we have noted a plethora of contracts being awarded for all sorts of edged tools and weapons. Ontario has landed a large contract for the USMC as we are all aware of but they have also landed further contracts on the M9 bayonets, the M7 bayonets and the Mark 2 knife. The Mark 2 contract, awarded in late 2002 making it in continuous general issue for over 60 years, was for 5400 knives with a run on to equal half expected. It was followed up in 2003 with an additional 2000 knives, again with more expected. Also contracted for were 1000 M7 bayonets and 3400 M10 scabbards in black. A smaller contract for 409 M9 bayonets and scabbards was also let in 2003 which was a run on from an earlier award.
Click on the thumb nail for the full size photo
Next we find Camillus back in the fixed blade business with the government. They have been awarded contracts on their BK&T knives in small amounts. Starting back in January we find the BK2 purchased in quantities of 64, in March 127, in April 175, in June 230 and in July 515. We see a trend in the numbers building here. We also find the BK3 being purchased in small quantities such as January 53, March 168, June 96 and July 220. Both are fine specimens while we really like the BK3 as a survival tool. The big knife news is in the purchase of the CQB series made by Camillus. The CQB 1 SG as made for the military was purchased in quantities of 67 in May, 544 in June and 342 in July. This is a first class weapon and tool to be put to use by our troops in the deserts an on the streets in the WOT. Does anyone know who they are being issued to? The scabbard on the CQB is also something new to the military, the multi position hanger should work great with the MOLLE gear attaching system now in use and the time tested web gear still used everywhere else. Some really fancy knives are making appearances.
The Camillus line up of the BK2, the BK3 and the CQBS1.
Click on the thumb nail for the full size photo
We also note a Request For Proposal was made for a laundry list of supplies and clothing recently and one item jumped out of the page at us. The proposal was for "Ka-Bar, Fighting Knife, 12 inches with Leather Sheath, #1217, quantity 1000." If this proposal is put through it would mark the first occasion in which the Ka-Bar made Mark 2 is purchased by the government since World War Two. We think it is splendid but most likely a clerical mistake. Just think what it would do to collectors… there isn’t a gun or knife show you can now go to without seeing a modern day Ka-Bar being passed off as a WW II bring back or government issue. In the near future those modern Ka-Bars may just be extremely hard to tell from the 1000 to be issued! Oh No!
Click on the thumb nail for the full size photo
Last but not least we have the auto knives. Benchmade has been busy and with the contracts landed recently they will stay busy for some time to come. We have already written on the Benchmade 9000 SBT, 9100 SBT and the current issue 9053 SBT knives before but this is really big news. Benchmade has been quietly rolling along with various small and medium contracts on these knives for a few years now. That has all changed, they recently landed a contract for $1,745,901.60 as a run on to an existing contract on the 9053 SBT. At the current contract price this is over 15,300 knives. As there may be some savings in quantity that is a number we can not say for certain is correct but it would be in the ballpark. We have spoken with several folks across the pond in the land of the desert and had a few comments on these knives. All were in agreement they are very well made heavy-duty knives compared to anything in the government arsenal. They are also for general issue, not controlled items like the Orange Handled auto knives. Only aircrews are issued the Orange knives, they are off limits to the ground crews who work on the planes while the Benchmades are not. Go figure?
Good Old Days
Here we have a copy of two pages from an old Kaufman Surplus catalog dated 1968. How times have changed. We note that the chromed M1905 bayonets are priced 30% more then the standard finish models, this is a big difference as they will not bring half of a standard finished model today. They are also priced the same as the M1917 bayonets, again a major difference.
Click on the thumb nail for the full size photo
French Foreign Legion M1917
As a follow up to a story we did some time ago we were recently contacted by a French collector with this great photo of a Legionaire in the First Gulf War wearing a M1917 cutdown bayonet. According to our French correspondent the soldier in the picture is from the French Regiment Etranger de Cavalerie (the legion tank unit). They are regular issue for soldiers with hand-guns and snipers, men not issued bayonets. These knives have certainly been put to hard work and good use in their lifetimes.
Click on the thumb nail for the full size photo
USMC Bayonet Sights
We have recently been trying to find a photo or drawing of the USMC bayonet sight. From what we understand of it, it is nothing more then a typical M1905 bayonet with a slot milled in the back of the pommel. This was then stuck in the ground and sighted through to pick up enemy targets from a great distance. Working in teams a spotter could call the shots for the rifleman to zero in on longer distances. Several were made and tested at Quantico but we have not seen a picture of one nor have we discovered and specifications on the slot. If you have one or know of one we would be very interested in hearing from you.
Fakes and Fantasies
We are currently working on a project that will show many of the reproductions made over the years on typical military knives and even some of the rarer ones. Sitting in a pile right next to us is a load of knives sent to us by our good friend Bill Adams. Bill commissioned many reproductions to be made while he was the owner of Atlanta Cutlery over the years. With these in hand we are endeavoring to place the repros and the originals next to each other to make up a good photo example of what to look for. Many of these knives are now many years old and would easily pass for the real thing to the unknowing eye. We hope to fix that in the near future with as many examples as possible of the standard pieces we often see for sale. Thanks to Bill for saving these original reproduction pieces this will be possible to document for the future. Watch for this in upcoming installments of Knife Knotes.
We hear from our new friend and correspondent Sa’ar Nudel in Israel that the Mark 2 is still alive and well in the Israeli Armed Forces. According to Sa’ar at the end of WW II and with the fight for the Independence in Israel in 1948 huge boxes of equipment were sent in from all over the globe. Among all that equipment were loads of the Mark 2 knives. In fact they were so numerous that they became the standard issue of the Israeli Armed Forces. The Sheffield made knife is really a big question if it ever was an issue piece of equipment. It is sold as such today and was first identified in Stephens book Fighting Knives as the Israeli issue knife. We have never been able to substantiate this in documentation or in photos but the rumor still exists. Sa’ar is also not aware of it being an issue knife. This makes it even more suspect when a local knife collector is unaware of the background. He was able to inform us of a locally produced knife marked BEVA / Jerusalem in a diamond that was made in a quantity of about 900 for the forces as the WW II era Mark 2’s are becoming scarce in the field forces from normal use. This was circa 1978 / 79 and is the only use of that mark we are aware of. Beva is a manufacturer of flatware in Israel. If the basis for identifying the Sheffield Mark 2 as Israeli is merely the Start of David on the ricasso this might be a big mistake. The current USMC Officers sword also has the Star of David on it yet it has nothing to do with the Israeli Armed Forces, it is merely a mark used by Wilkinson Sword that somehow was included in the specifications long ago and never removed. Rumors are easy to start but damn hard to end. We hope to have some photos soon of the Mark 2 in use by the Israeli Armed Forces, Sa'ar is looking for them so we will post what he finds in the future updates.
A Strange View Point
We have written about this phenomenon before and it hit us again today. Knife collecting is a rather recent invention. Only the rich could afford to have a knife in the 18th or 19th century and not use it. Knives were tools and like any other tool they were used until they broke and then they were replaced with another. There just wasn’t any need to have two of them. The great gun scribe Townsend Whelen once quipped that " only accurate guns are interesting." We wonder what he would think in this day and age? Are only sharp knives interesting? A knife is a tool made for cutting, all sorts of knives are made to cut all sorts of materials. Some are very specialized such as a surgeon’s tenotome or a chef’s cheese slicer. Many are made for general utility purposes such as the four bladed folding utility or a bone handled equal end jack. The common purpose of the knife is to cut. In eight years of doing this column we have only spoken of it one time before, do you find that strange? We do. It seems to be prevalent among collectors of all sorts to study the artifact yet have little use for it in it’s stated form. Custom car collectors rarely drive their cars, coin collectors do not spend their coins while stamp collectors rarely lick the backs and mail them! We study them for the finest of details and minutiae only other collectors of the same genre can appreciate. Most likely you can enter any home in suburbia and find a knife that actually works for a living at it’s stated purpose, it is there to cut. Rarely will you find a home that posses 50 or more knives that have not cut anything as long as the current owners have held them. We have draws full of knives that have never cut anything since we have owned them. Is that strange behavior? Many of our knives are conversation pieces simply because they are made differently then others. We have well over 250 variations of the simple Mark 2 style knife, why would any normal person do such a thing? We can count several rolls full of MIL-K knives in our possession merely because they have different date stampings on them yet we only have four pockets in our pants and only carry one knife on a daily basis. We compare knives to photos and drawings of known examples trying to find one like it and passing up dozens in the process that may well be much better at cutting. The finding of a knife not in "the books" is comparable to a collector like finding the Holy Grail would have been to the Crusaders. In fact of the knives stated above we do not know which brand actually cuts better and we have collected them for 35 years! We have noted on occasion that many of the most collectable knives are really rather poor cutters and crudely made. One that comes to mind is the highly sought after SOG knives of the Vietnam War era. Poor balance, poor steel, small handles and bad edge geometry yet they sell for thousands of dollars more then a current high quality production knife one can purchase new for $100.00 or less and would cut your finger off it you were to slip with it. To top it off the higher the price range the less likely it is the object is to be used. When was the last time we saw a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost tooling around Manhattan as a taxi cab or a lovely lady wearing the Hope Diamond? How about sticking a Honus Wagner baseball card on the spokes of some kids bike to make noise with, it just isn’t done. We have elevated simple objects to celebrity status through demand. What confuses us the most is why they are in demand? If we compete against each other to purchase one sample it raises the price, this in turn raises the demand, which in turn raises the price. Before long others notice it and demand rises again now due to increased demand, not just price alone. We could purchase a nice Utica guard marked M3 in an M8A1 scabbard tomorrow for $175.00 yet if we wanted to purchase a mint condition Robeson blade dated M3 in a mint SBL M6 scabbard we could offer $1500.00 and have to look long and hard to find one. The funny part about it… we still wouldn’t know which one cuts better! We certainly are a strange breed we humans.
This article just ran in the Journal of Society of American Bayonet Collector. If you are not a member you should be. Great stuff each edition. We received many responses on it so we thought it would be appropriate here so the world can see. Many of the old "facts" will be changed and we think that is a good thing in this case. Enjoy.
The USN Plastic Bayonet.
As The United States Navy tried to reorganize after the shock at Pearl Harbor raising the ships was only one of many subjects to be breached. As the President declared war a rapid and large buildup was envisioned. The Army was a little more prepared then the Navy was but neither was fully ready for the proportions to be dealt with. The Army Ordnance Department had scouted and retained many manufacturers who could be converted quickly to war production ever since the First World War. Even with all the pre planning no one could have imagined the production that would be needed to train, equip and feed such a massive force. Small arms were low on the priority list for the Navy, ships would be needed, lots of ships. That thought would come back to haunt them. You see rifles could be made quite easily, ships needed a lot of men and materials to build, wrong! There were millions of rifles in storage in the U.S. arsenal since World War One, wrong again! Most of the surplus U.S. M1917 rifles were sent overseas prior to the U.S. entry into the war. One million M1917 rifles alone were sent to England in 1940 for use by the home guard to protect the island nation from the imminent invasion of the Nazi forces. Others were sent to several nations around the globe already in the war, the U.S. arsenal was dangerously low, in early 1942, the Navy found this out. With the rapid build up the Navy could not equip their fighting forces with small arms. U.S. policy restricted deployment to forward operating bases without equipment, men and machines included. To counter this the Navy cutback on the allowances to ships landing forces. Battleships went from 350 rifles to 150, Cruisers from 180 to 80 and so on throughout the fleet. After an inventory this proved to be inadequate to supply the new forces, more needed to be done. The next step was to withdraw all the Naval ROTC rifles. This was to be a temporary situation with weapons to be restored when procurement was available. They were to be supplied with 20 rifles, caliber .22 for target practice. Even with this the Navy was short of rifles. Between the Navy and the Marine Corps the shortage was about 11,000 rifles per month. At this point no stone had been left unturned, Coast Guard Beach Parties were stripped, as were Coast Guard vessels, Shore establishments gutted and still not enough could be procured. The Navy published an urgent request for guns from the public; they would buy them outright. Guns came in throughout the land, 45-70 Springfield’s, 6mm Lees, 8mm Mausers, even lever action Winchesters. Not many could be used and to top it off the Internal Revenue Service wanted to know who was receiving the money! With that plan failed the next course was to ask for 500,000 rifles back from England. With U.S. servicemen and machinery arriving daily and other events such as the Russian Campaign it looked as if the invasion of England would not happen. The Navy reasoned that the rifles could come back home and it would then render them a surplus. Letters were bounced around the War Department and State. In a letter from the Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet and the Chief of Naval Operations dated 9/3/1942 the official request was made for the 500,000 rifles. This wasn’t to happen, the rifles were being distributed to the Free French forces and other combatants actively fighting the German Army, State refused to pull the weapons back. As the build up continued the U.S. forces would be short 611,175 weapons by years end. With no other possible choices the Navy approached a toy maker for help.
In June of 1942, Lt. A.N. Johnson, U.S. Navy Bureau of Ordnance contacted Mr. C.L. Parris of the Parris Dunn Corporation, to talk with him about rifles the Army was looking to purchase from them. Mr. Parris followed up with a letter and a specification sheet to the Lt. with prices and an eagerness to start working. A few adjustments had to be made to the specs, the Navy wanted working triggers and the name on the butt changed but little else would need to be done. Parris-Dunn and the Army Ordnance Department had already performed much of the required work. A bayonet lug was fitted to the rifle to allow the M1905 bayonet to fit. Weight was a concern; the rifles were much lighter. P.D Corp could make them heavier, to about 5 1/2 lbs. but that was the limit. Thoughts of lead weights were toyed with (no pun intended) but abandoned quickly. Requisitions were started and contracts let to begin production. The first contract from the Navy was for 190,000 rifles, remember that number; we will visit it again. Now that the rifle shortage was corrected, bayonets were needed for the rifles, step two. A little checking around and the Navy found themselves back in the same place as they were with the rifles; bayonets could not be had. It worked once, why not again…
As one of the basic hold-ups to production was the problem of obtaining steel the old end run was used again. Why not make the bayonets from a material that was available? Letters were sent to several manufacturers who could produce the bayonets from wood or plastic. Sample M1905 bayonets were sent to the Bakelite Company and the American Cyanamid Company for experimenting with plastic. American Cyanamid replied on July 28, 1942 with a request to forward the original request to other companies, as they were only a maker of plastic resin, not a company that could produce a product such as a bayonet. The following day July 29, 1942 a letter was received from the Bakelite Corporation. Bakelite sent several prototypes of differing material for inspection to the Bureau of Ordnance. The choice was up to the Navy as to which one to use, the real point being that it could be done. Now to find a design and a manufacturer. In September 1942 a letter from Beckwith Manufacturing Company was received along with a drawing of a proposal to insert a latching mechanism in the plastic handle. The U.S.N. Mark 1 Plastic Bayonet was starting to take shape.
The U.S.N. Mark 1 Plastic Bayonet was originally conceived to train with in bayonet fighting practice, guard duty, drill and ceremonies. The idea was to free up steel bayonets for the fighting men who needed them. In fact it was NOT supposed to fit the M1 Garand or the M1903 Springfield by design. It was strictly for the Parris - Dunn Corp. produced U.S.N. Mark 1 Dummy Training rifle. The P-D rifle was designed by William G. Dunn and later patented. The application was filed on January 8, 1943 and finalized on August 27, 1946 as Patent Number 2,406,493. The fact that the bayonet does fit, but not well is coincidence by way of using the then current blueprints for the M1905 bayonet and the mounting hardware on the P-D rifle. A total of thirteen Army Ordnance Department drawings for the M1905 were used to establish three drawings specific to the U.S.N. Mark 1 plastic bayonet. The complete bayonet is detailed in Bu-Ord drawing 330306 while the component parts are listed in drawings 330307 and 330308. All the converted drawing are dated February 23, 1943 which acts as the birth or design date in Bu-Ord records although bayonets were actually produced well before this date. We could only find a partial drawing in the National Archives files, a detail of the bayonet slot dated March 30, 1943, (perhaps a redesign to allow attaching to the M1903 in response to the letter in endnote 9). We hope the above drawings still exist but we could not locate them. If any member were in receipt of these drawings the author would welcome copies of such. The M1903 Springfield was designed or should we say re-designed to accept the Krag bayonet specifically as at the time more then 500,000 Krag bayonets were available to be used. This would allow the continued production of the knife bayonet equipped M1903 Springfield rifle and allow the redesigned rifles to use the then issued Krag bayonets until production of the M1905 bayonet had reached sufficient capacity to equip the Army. The M1 Garand was designed to take the M1905 bayonet for much the same reason, bayonets already in the Army Supply System and no valid reason to change them, pure economics. The Parris - Dunn Corp. Rifle on the other hand was engineered and designed to fit the M1905 bayonet. The U.S.N. Mark 1 bayonet was then reverse engineered to fit the P-D rifle. This is a great case in which reverse engineering does not fit into the original concept of the government, but does fit into the concept Aexplained@ to the designers and engineers. It wasn=t designed to fit the M1903 Springfield but the government wanted it to, they just never said so to the designers.
On February 19, 1943 the Marine Corps Equipment Board Experimental Section located at Marine Barracks Quantico, Va. concluded their Equipment Board Test Number 46 on the plastic bayonet. A verbal directive was given to the Experimental Section from the Equipment Board Executive Officer to test the bayonets before any paperwork was drawn up as time was of the essence. The question at hand, should the Marine Corps place an order for the new bayonets? Quickly below we will list the test and results:
1. An attempt was made to fasten these bayonets on an M1 Rifle, and it was fund necessary to use a cord to them on the rifle. The undercut groove was not long enough to allow the hook on the bayonet catch to engage behind the bayonet lug.
2. One bayonet was used to parry against a parry stick equipped with a common screen door spring to give resistance.
3. The second bayonet was tested for thrusting against a bale of straw.
4. Another bayonet was tried in disarming practice, in which the blade is warded off by twisting the body side wise and striking the blade with the heel of the hand.
1. The bayonet used against the parry stick cracked on the first parry, and snapped off completely on the second parry.
2. The second bayonet snapped in two places, when thrust into a bale of hay.
3. The third bayonet snapped on the first try, when used in disarming practice.
1. These bayonets were tested by Marine Gunner E.A. Anderson of the Candidates Class. The Candidates= Class uses a special extra heavy bayonet for thrusting into dummies, made by tying brush together.
2. Obviously, if special bayonets have to be used in this work. Plastic bayonets would be of no account.
These tests indicate that the subject plastic bayonets would not be satisfactory for use in bayonet practice.
John Ayrault Jr.
Chief of Experimental Section
As we can see the Marines had proven the fact that these bayonets were not designed to fit the M1 rifle, they had to tie them on. They could not be used with any amount of force or actually be of practical value for every day use in the Corps. But at least they had to test them to be sure. Another question arises as to the special heavy-duty bayonets used by the Candidates Class, what were they? Another topic for another time perhaps...
Two companies during World War Two produced the U.S.N. MARK 1 plastic bayonets. The Pro-phy-lac-tic Brush Co. had contracts, two of them we know of, NXSO17249 dated 11/1942 and completed 6/1943 for $156,000.00 and NXSO29524 dated 5/1943 completed 7/1943 for $85,000.00 totaling $241,000.00. Beckwith Manufacturing Co. through it’s Victory Plastic Division had a single large contract, NORD 3066 dated 3/1943 completed 7/1943, for $225,000.00 to produce bayonets. All combined the Navy spent at least $466,000.00 on plastic bayonets in an effort to save steel. Perhaps further contracts were let and not recorded in the ledger as only contracts of $50,000.00 and above are listed. The contract numbers are plainly stamped on the ricasso area of the blade; these are the only contract numbers the author has observed. Perhaps some fellow members can produce other known contract numbers if they do indeed exist.
It should be noted here that one month after the initial contract to the Pro-phy-lac-tic Brush Co., the Navy had contracted with Victory Plastics, Contract NXSO19491, to produce scabbards to the figure of $225,000.00. Although the actual contract has not been located we strongly feel this is the USN MK1 scabbard made specifically to fit the plastic bayonet as the title of the ledger entry is AScabbards, Bayonet@ and it is the only order by the Navy for bayonet scabbards. They are a tight fit, bayonet insertion and extraction, in most cases but none the less we still feel certain of this fact. Far more scabbards are encountered in fine condition then are the bayonets but the fact still remains that they were made in equal numbers. In fact we suggest they made, 300,000 of each. Beckwith Manufacturing Co., makers of the M3 Scabbards, actually Victory Plastics, it's subsidiary, was making the identical M3 bayonet scabbards at $0.75 each. Factor that into the total contract amount of $225,000.00 and you get 300,000 the big number. Unfortunately Victory Plastics had not yet begun to stamp the NORD contract number into the scabbards as they did later with other Navy knife scabbards so we can not use that to pin point it to the specific contract. A letter from Lt. A.M. Johnson to Victory Plastics requesting six scabbards be sent to Pro Brush for fitting of the prototype bayonets they were to make in December 1942 states that the six scabbards may be taken off the total of the 300,000 contracted for with Beckwith Manufacturing Company. That should finish the argument about the number of U.S.N. scabbards produced. A fabric scabbard is often associated with this particular bayonet. We could find no traces of a contract let during World War II for neither such a scabbard nor a specification number or drawing. It is felt by many that these were made up for the surplus market after the war for retail sales. Hardin on the other hand stipulates that these scabbards were in fact the primary scabbards being replaced by the later hard plastic scabbard. If this is the fact we would suggest that very few were produced as the hard scabbard contract was right on the heels of the initial bayonet contract. Again we ask for your assistance if you know of such a specification or documentation to the fact.
Pro-phy-lac-tic Brush Co. had two contracts for the U.S.N. Mark 1 bayonets production. The first contract was for 100,000 pieces and the second was for 50,000 pieces. This much we know for sure as a letter from Mr. F.A. Parkhurst of Pro-phy-lac-tic Brush Co. dated August 30, 1943 to Lt. J.J. McDevitt Jr., Navy Department, Bureau of Ordnance states the above production numbers. The letter was asking if continued production was needed so they could plan to order more material. As we could find no other contracts we place this as the final count for P.B. Co., 150,000 bayonets total. The first contract dollar total of $156,000.00 for 100,000 bayonets put the price at $1.56 per unit. The second contract of $85,000.00 for 50,000 bayonets places the price at $1.70 per unit. No mention is made of the price difference in the two contracts that we could find. We can only point out that the smaller contract in most instances observed afforded less economy. Victory Plastics had one contract for $225,000.00 total. Using that figure and the remainder of the 300,000 total production, 150,000, we can find the price was $1.50 per bayonet from them, again economy in numbers. Of the bayonets we have observed we come up with the three contract or NORD numbers stamped on them listed above. Doing the math it all adds up. To lend additional credence to the above facts we note that the Parris - Dunn Corporation had two contracts with the Navy for rifles. The first contract, NXOS 10993, let on 8/1942 and completed on 10/1942 was for $903,000 while the second contract, NORD 808 was let on 2/1943 and completed on 6/1943 for $481,000.00 both to total $1,384,000.00 for U.S.N. Mark 1 Dummy Training Rifles. The first contract for 190,000 pieces would come out to $4.75 per item while the second contract for 110,000 rifles figures out to $4.37 each. We see the same economy in numbers as in the bayonet contracts but in reverse. The reason being the wood used in the second contract was of a lower grade, as the company could not obtain the required gum in the specifications. Add to that, Al Hardin quotes a Navy Ordnance Recorder dated November 26, 1945 classifying these arms to surplus status. Disposal records for the rifle, bayonet and scabbard list the price at $7.15 complete. Note that the rifle at $4.75, the bayonet at $1.70 and the scabbard at $0.75 total out to $7.20 per set. Coincidence you say, we think not. We know that 300,000 were declared surplus at war’s end. Armed with the above information we feel certain the numbers produced were 300,000 of each; rifle, bayonet and scabbard. As a side note we find that the Army Ordnance Department also purchased rifles from Parris - Dunn on contract number 271ORD 1938 for a total of $166,000.00 starting 7/1942 and completed on 11/1942. We have not read of this in any references to date. Brophy states that the rifles without the U.S.N. markings on the butt plate are commercial items. With this new information at hand perhaps this former statement is not exactly accurate. If so it would place the Army contract rifles in a much rarer category then their Navy counterparts. From the numbers we would conclude that 35,000 rifles were purchased by the Army or slightly more then ten percent of the Navy purchase. From the authors viewpoint the Army model rifle would be correct for display with an M1905 bayonet. The tough part would be to find Army provenance of a rifle as opposed to a commercial manufactured item. Fellow SABC member Gary Cunningham has in his collection one marked Victory Trainer / 1942 which we feel is the Army model. It does not contain the patented firing mechanism but does have a working bolt as opposed to the typical locked commercial piece. As the M1 Garand=s were fed into the system it would have placed many of the M1903 rifles back into circulation. Add to this the production of the M1903A3 and we would find that the need for dummy training rifles would have slowed in the face of all this. As the Navy had a long standing tradition of using Dummy rifles dating back to WW I, and still does to this day, we can’t really say they were pulled out of the system until the end of the war when they were declared surplus. Several letters sent to the current Parris Mfg. Co. on history have gone unanswered.
Beckwith Mfg. Co. and Victory Plastics were very familiar with government contracts having produced scabbards for a few years already, but this was the first Ordnance contract for Pro-phy-lac-tic Brush. Unknown to many P.B. Co was a large maker of toothbrushes. The Pro-phy-lac-tic Brush Company dates as far back as 1843, when Englishman Albert Critchlow, a horn button maker, moved to Haydenville, Massachusetts. The small company changed owners and partners several times before becoming the Florence Manufacturing Company in 1866. This is the date the company officially uses as its inception included on the letterhead stationary they used for official business. The company was experimenting with a new substance they called Florence Compound, which was a crude, brittle plastic made from resin, wood fibers and shellac. This early plastic was used in manufacturing buttons, jewelry cases, revolver cases and, its most successful products, daguerreotype cases. As the then new photographs slowly started to take over Florence Manufacturing needed another outlet for there compound. By installing a few bristles into a block of the compound a hairbrush was created. From that point on all types of brushes and plastics were experimented with and put to use. In 1884 they entered what was to become their largest line, the toothbrush. We must remember back at the time that toothbrushes had not yet been mass created and even Dentistry was in its earliest stages. The problem ahead was to now create a market for this strange new object. And create a market they did. In 1924 the Florence Manufacturing Company changed their name to the Pro-phy-lac-tic Brush Company, it had become their largest line of products.
Pro Brush, as we shall call them, was assigned CAGE Code 82780 for further reference. Today they are a subsidiary of Warner Lambert Co., CAGE Code 82559 and to our knowledge still producing tooth brushes albeit not in the Northampton location which was closed down after the war. In 1942 the Navy approached Pro Brush to work in collaboration on the new idea. The toothbrush maker took on the job and what we know today as the USN Mark 1 bayonet is the end result. A very simple, quick and efficient way of molding was developed to allow for high-speed production. The bayonet blade with the metal insert was produced at a rate of two every four minutes using a two-cavity compression mold. At that speed they far exceeded the rate attainable with steel forged components. It would take ten times that amount of time just to temper a steel blade.
To reach this speed the Bakelite Company sends precut blanks of their resin board to the bayonet manufacturer for molding. After the pieces come from the mold and cool the only work needed on them is to trim the edges, the end gate and any sprue vents. While speaking on this topic we are reminded of other similar plastic uses, the military mess kit knives, machete handles, and even the machine gun elevating levers. Many printers changed over to Bakelite Resin Boards to allow the then standard linotype material to be used in the war effort. Molded resin board had been around since 1932 and was really in its infancy. Necessity really is the mother of invention and with the war effort on, all types of new uses were being found. The trick to the increased strength over regular plastic was the use of small fibers. Today we see this typically in fiberglass products and more recently replacing iron re-bar in concrete. The non fiber Resinox was tested and declined by the Army in 1941 for mess kit knife handles, much too fragile in drop tests shattering from a six foot drop. The added fiber did add strength for its intended limited uses. While the blade is made from two pieces of resin board the guards are made from three layers. The handles on the other hand are made from diced or shredded resin cut to the size of the U.S. Standard Number 6-screen mesh. This allows for the heated material to achieve a proper temperature, consistently, for good molding.
As for the bayonets themselves they look much like the standard M1905 from which the design was taken. Blade lengths are 15 3/4 inches long, 1 inch wide and 15/64 inch thick. The fuller was left out from the molding process as an unnecessary step, strength was not an issue nor was weight as the bayonet weights in at less the 3/4 of a pound. The real strength of the bayonet lies in the three-piece steel core. Spot welded together the two outer sections form the tang supports while the center core supports the handle components and the opposite end runs for about two inches into the blade for additional support. All the observed bayonets have the reverse ricasso marked U.S.N. / MARK 1 while the obverse side reveals the manufacturer and the contract number mentioned above. One bayonet owned by a fellow member which came from the display board in the lobby of the Northampton Pro Brush Company plant does not have the contract number on the ricasso nor does it have the P.B. Co. in fancy script stamping. Removing the grip we find a small P.B. Co under it. This is the only one we have heard of in this configuration and it is consistent with it being a prototype or display piece not intended for the Navy. Perhaps others like it are out there? The three-ply guard is attached to the blade by two steel rivets much the same as the M1905 brother. Looking down into the undercut slot one can see the components and the spot welds holding the steel core part together. The grips are similar to the M1905 but also include the birds head pommel again to eliminate the use of steel. All the metal parts are Parkerized but with a very light coating. Many have lost this thin coat from handling and exhibit only a faded color today. Internal attaching parts are essentially copies of the M1905 pieces and in some cases are interchangeable. This bayonet was designed for quick production from start to finish. While the blades could be sharpened, to a certain extent, they were supplied blunt. All the blades this author has observed have been black but a fellow S.A.B.C. member, Al Siebel, owns a powder blue blade. Al reports the bayonet is marked in the customary way by Pro Brush with the above noted contract number NXSO17249 on the ricasso putting it in the first contract. The blue plastic material is much softer then the hard black Bakelite allowing the blade to flex and bend to avoid wounding were the blade to be used in sparing. This is the only one we have ever heard of with such a blade. The actual plastic material used is unknown.
Many believe the U.S.N. Mark 1 scabbard is not correct mated with the M1905 bayonet while others feel it is a perfectly suitable wartime match up. Technically they are not a correct match but without a doubt they were mated during the war. With 300,000 perfectly suitable scabbards available it would be foolhardy to think not a one was used in combat. Swiped by Marines and Army personal while in shipboard transport, you bet. Traded by sailors for AJap@ or ANazi@ artifacts, for sure. Just using common sense we wouldn’t suggest a beat up old M1905 in a mint scabbard were a match any more then a beat up old scabbard mated to a perfect bayonet. But a well-aged M1905 in a well-aged and battered scabbard may just have Ahit the beach@ on a combat ready trooper more then once. We wouldn’t arbitrarily dismiss the match up as Awrong@ without a little investigation first. We also believe the reason most of the Mark 1 scabbards found today are in very good or better shape is due to the use they did sustain. Locked up in ship armories and state side use they were at the least better cared for and less used then the majority of combat used bayonets. They should be in better shape. Last but not least we have observed U.S.N. Mark 1 scabbards cut down to M7 length with a crimped throat not the usual bent tabs. This throat crimping was only performed during the phase where the Beckwith Company during World War Two was reducing M3 scabbards to M7 length.
A further letter was discovered while searching through the National Archives which brings some additional light to the project. The letter dated October 27, 1943 was from J.F. Millea, Production Manager at Victory Plastics to Lt. A. M. Johnson, BuOrd. They wanted to advise the Navy that they were running out of "Instruction Sheets for Aligning and Attaching Mark 1 Plastic Bayonets" and were requesting 2,000 more to be sent. This is the first time we have heard of an instruction sheet associated with this bayonet. If any fellow member were in receipt of one we would love to see a copy of it.
The last remaining correspondence we could find was for replacement of broken parts. The Navy requested from Pro Brush a price for additional molded blades and guards using the broken parts as the base product. It seems breakage was a problem from the start. Pro Brush responded that they would charge $1.10 for blades and guards in lots of 7500 or more. The guards would be shredded and remolded but the blades would need to be stripped if the metal inserts were to be retained. We have observed several bayonets over the years with metal guards in place of the standard plastic parts. This we would suggest was in answer to the breakage problem with training. For drill and ceremony it would seem unlikely to break the parts unless dropped, with actual training it would snap the plastic guard with ease.
In any event the plastic bayonet eased the strain of production during the buildup and allowed training to continue in the Navy and throughout the NROTC programs in high schools and colleges around the country. Immediately given to surplus at the end of the war they served a short time and are but a footnote in the overall history of the bayonet. We have always liked them for what they are and thought it was time to share the history of them.
The author would like to thank those who have provided pieces of information and clues over the years to finally put this puzzle together. Carter Rila and Alec Tulkoff who supplied letters and locations in the National Archives for us to search. Pat Osbourne, archivist at the National Archives who searched out those ill arranged Navy S79-4 files for us. Gary Cunningham for proof reading the unfinished manuscript and adding to it. Greg Robinson for bringing up the subject several years ago on his unmarked Pro-phy-lac-tic Brush Co. bayonet. Bill Porter and Al Siebel on the blue plastic bayonet and John Spangler for urging the author to write. Finally, to those young boys who were on both ends of the plastic bayonet, making them and using them.
Click on thumbnails for full size photos.
Cover of Bakelite Review magazine, April 1943.
Photo from Bakelite Review showing components prior to molding
Photo from Bakelite Review showing shredded resin board and mess kit knives and molding boards.
Portion of blueprint found at National Archives showing redesign of bayonet locking slot.
Close up of typical Beckwith markings
Close up of typical Pro Brush marking from the May 1943 contract
Typical marking on USN Mark 1 scabbard made for the plastic bayonets
Top view of handle showing triple layer construction
Bottom view of handle showing triple layer construction and locking catch button
Full view of hilt
Typical marking of USN on Pro Brush made bayonet
Close up of rare unmarked Pro Brush bayonet from Greg Robinson
Patent drawing of the Parris - Dunn Dummy Training Rifle
The old Pro Brush building in Northampton circa 1900
A Short Month Again
We seem to be making a habit of these short updates all summer. We can tell you that it is not a lack of information or feedback, just a lack of time. We are still working on the Fake, Fantasy, Repro page so if you have anything you would like to include or see covered please let us know. We have a huge pile of old knives and ads from many years so far to include and truly thank all of you who have sent in various pieces to photo or scan. We think it will be a fine place to check out when it is finished.
All the best
This month we are opening a new feature we have been working on for months. It is called the Reproduction Page and will feature reproduction, fake and fantasy knives and bayonets from years past and the current offerings. Reproductions have been with us for years, this is not something that is new to the collecting community. When they are marked as such they present little if any problems. Most companies making the items try in some ways to alter the item so as not to fool the collector. We find the problem when the items hit the secondary market. There are many folks out there among us who would do just about anything for the all mighty dollar. Somewhere along the items life it will have been altered to present itself as an original. With shabby workmanship this is usually easy to spot even for the novice. With premium workmanship even the expert will be fooled. In most cases the items fall somewhere in between and we are thankful for this. A fine craftsman can make a knife better then the originals but through careful study, something most of the thieves are lacking, we can spot the differences. We purposely did not point out many of the secrets to the knives and bayonets listed here just for this reason, why make it easy for them. We did post many photos of the fakes to compare with. In some of the pages we have common items that can be encountered at just about any show you would attend and some of the rare items, even as far as reproductions go. It is a work in progress that we will try our best to keep updated with new information and photos as items come along. Also for the record we do buy reproductions when the price is right and it appeals to us, nothing wrong with that as long as they are represented properly.
USMC Hospital Corps Knife
Here is a strange one…. This knife was pointed out to us by our good friend Stan Tranquillo at the recent Allentown, Forks of the Delaware show. Stan led us to the table of Andrew Berkowitz to see an HCK but with a twist. Andrew is a Militaria seller who had a table set up at the show with many outstanding items. The HCK was under the table not for sale so we had missed it during the first go around. He was gracious enough to let us examine it and take multiple photographs of it. Upon inspection it is clear that the knife had not been altered in any way, it was purposely made this way. We inspected the knife quite thoroughly and can see in the process of building it the steel was bent at the factory. It was then finished quite nicely and had the handle installed. We have not observed one in this pattern before and were delighted to handle it. The question as to why it was made remains a mystery. We looked through all of our notes and copies of correspondence from the USMC we have on it but this did not yield a clue. If you have any thoughts on this we would love to hear from you. While we are at it, if you are looking for any top quality webbing, uniforms, kits, knives, paper items or just about anything military give Andrew a call at 845-223-9653 or contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org for some what he has. Awesome stuff in great condition.
The Ontario Knife company has recently created a few Iraqi Freedom Commemorative M9’s for retail sale. Our good friend Bill Porter obtained the bayonets and shot us off a few photos of the new items. Normally we would expect to see commemoratives following the war but these are a bit different. They use the typical Ontario M9 blade but are constructed with the experimental M9 ergonomic grips Ontario had produced for the bayonet trials held by the Marine Corps. Quite unique to see this in any knife or bayonet. The scabbard also has the webbing made for the MOLLE gear not your typical M9 setup. These are actually fairly rare bayonets that have been converted into commemoratives. Here are a few photos for your viewing pleasure. The M9’s are currently available at Brigade Quartermasters 1-800-338-4327.
Great Knives for Sale
Our good friend Mike Silvey recently put out a list of items for sale. As you well know Mike is the author of several books on military knives. Many of the knives on his list are pictured in the books he has produced. It is an awesome list with many very rare knives for sale. Contact Mike at email@example.com or 530-644-4590 for a copy of this great sale.
More Peloza Knives
The Peloza Brothers are at it again. They recently sent us a knife made up as an M3 using and M7 blade as the base. This knife is a user model leaving the blade in the Parkerized state instead of the high polish they would normally give the knife. The brass on the guard and the pommel is also chemically darkened to prevent reflection. It carries the traditional leather washer handle and the super leather scabbard. Anyone interested in a Peloza knife should contact these guys, this is a working knife at a working price that would also look great in your collection. Our hat is off to the brothers, Mike and Vince. Contact them at VRHP@aol.com for a price and a knife.
We recently received a copy of the May 1953 National Geographic Magazine from our friend Bob Wilhide in Alabama. It contains an article written by General Curtis LeMay Commander of the Strategic Air Command. The article is about the USAF Survival school training currently being offered to students. It is a great article in itself but what makes it great to us is the photos and text on knives and machetes. The article shows several knives in use and being worn. It also mentions by name Major Burton T. Miller, the man responsible for obtaining and designing some of these knives. As you may remember it was Major Miller who selected the Boker 155 and designed the pouch type sheath for it, a Boker is shown with the scabbard in one of the photos! While the article is not solely on knives it an a very entertaining and imformative article that should be had by anyone interested in early Air Force Survival Knives.
As the faithful follower of this column knows we love books. Well we have found a great site that specializes in books on blades, much like we do here. Run by Rick and Patt Wagner it is http://www.qualitybladebooks.com and they have some nice selections. We have obtained books from Rick in the past and can say it was a pleasant experience. They are a great source for the student of the blade.
A Fitting Tribute to Our Veterans
The Third Infantry Regiment at Fort Myer has the responsibility for providing ceremonial units and honor guards for state occasions, White House social functions, public celebrations and interments at Arlington National Cemetery and standing a very formal sentry watch at the Tombs of the Unknowns. A plated M6 is part of the uniform attached to the M14 rifle. The tomb has been patrolled continuously, 24/7, since 1930. During the recent hurricane Isabel the guards stood their posts. They simply didn’t want to be known as the guys who couldn’t stand a little wind while their fellow soldiers were being shot at in Iraq and legions before them braved storms and typhoons all over the globe. There is an e-mail circulating around the Internet that embellishes the story quite a bit but it has some truth to it. The men certainly did their duty as they had been trained to do and that needs no embellishment, certainly from us. Thanks to our good friend Dick Boyd for point it out to us.
A Vietnam Altered Conetta
We received an e-mail recently from an Mr. Mark Warren about a knife his uncle made while in Vietnam. Below is the e-mail:
My uncle did a few tours in Viet-Nam. Early on he was a machinist and later in the 0200 field (an interrogator, I think). He has a K-Bar, a Conetta, that he rebuilt. It has the leather handle re-contoured and tapered stainless steel pommel. I think he polished the blades.
He sold the K-Bars for $20.00 each. I believe he said that he would make them in brass also.
The way to identify them is this:
a. He would find a knife with a nicely shaped blade.
b. He would use a Rockwell hardness tester to be sure it was 57-58 RC.
c. The work he did was simple, but well done.
d. Look for the hardness test dimple on the blade just forward of the finger guard.
I don't recall if the knife I saw had a new stainless finger guard or not, I think it did.
I would be interested to know if anyone has run into one of my uncle's knives. (I'd really like to get one).
You know Mark we would love to see one also! If anyone has a line on one of these please let us know. If any additional information is known please pass it along, we would love to I/D a Vietnam era Mark 2!
Is TR Still Here With Us?
"The one absolute certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, or preventing al possibility of it’s continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities. We have but one flag. We must also learn one language and that language is English!"
Hackman / Moran knives
It is a matter of record that the Master Bill Moran sold Hackman knives during the Vietnam years to fellows who couldn’t wait for one of his hand forged knives to be delivered. Bill being the craftsman that he is selected the Hackman product because it was a fine knife for the price. Bill also produced his own scabbards to go with the knives. This has long been a mystery to us just what this scabbard looks like. Perhaps many know of it but we have asked a few folks and no one seems to know or remember. We even asked Bill a few years ago what that scabbard looked like but he said it was just a "leather scabbard" and really didn’t remember any details about it. Recently our good friend John Gibson turned up a really fine Hackman knife with a very different scabbard on it. Could this be one of the elusive Moran scabbards made during Vietnam? If any one has any detail please let us know! Thank You in advance
In the Desert
We hear from our good friend John Jacobi who is presently stationed over in the big sandbox on the opposite side of the globe. He tells us that the USAF is using the Benchmade 9050 knives in many of their survival kits, CSAR kits and of all places in the Fire Department Rescue kits! This is great to hear that a good knife is placed in the hands of our men. Now wouldn’t it be nice if any citizen could have this "right" to carry the knife of their choice. After all it is only a tool. Take Care John… and keep your head down!
In the "life is sweet department" we hear from our good friend Bill Wright about a knife he just located. According to Bill:
I have recently purchased a fine WWII hand made dagger. I will enclose pictures. The other knife I refer to belongs to Bob Blanchette in Fla. Tell me what you think???
The blade of my knife measures 8 3/8'' from tip to cross guard, 13 1/4'' from tip to end of pommel. The blade is 1 3/16'' wide at the bottom, it measures .173" thick. The S guard is 3/16" thick. There is a 1/16" thick steel spacer at end of handle next to S guard. Aluminum pommel. Striped (different shades of brown) Micarta for the handle. The blade is not flat ground to the central ridge. It is convex ground.
There are two of these knives. I have compared them (pictures only) and feel they are made by the same maker. The only difference is in the rounding of the pommel. One is squared off and one is rounded, but the same pommel, handle shape and type of handle material. I have compared my knife to my 2 Taylor Huff knuckle knives. There are many features the same, in the grind of the blade (the fact that both blades are convex ground to center-line), shape of the tang and ricasso, thickness of blade (about .009 difference in thickness from knuckle knife). One of the biggest things is the SHEATH. No mistaken it. It can't be for a knuckle knife because it is too short.
The owner of the other knife told me a couple of years ago that he felt his knife was made by Taylor Huff. I didn't discount the possibility but one never knows. If you have Cole's book 4 look at the pictures of the sheath p.3. The other knife has a sheath made similar to sheath on p.4
After comparing many things I feel this knife was made by Taylor Huff. Your thoughts…
Well Bill we also think it is a Taylor Huff made piece from the photos and the description. We do know that Mr. Huff tried several versions before deciding on the knuckle knife we all know and love. The fact that Mr. Huff Patented his knife and scabbard verifies that he was the maker of the knives and it was his scabbard pattern. Isn’t it great that after 60 years oddities like this can still surface. Sweet…
The Fairsword by Sandberg
Our good friend Dale Sandberg of Eight Dollar Mountain Foundry set us a few photos of a next product he is making. Based on the WW II era Fairsword by Col. Fairbairn these are fearsome weapons. Dale is making them in two sizes and in two finishes. The smaller one is 8 ½ inches long while the larger piece has a blade length of 11 ½ inches. The blades are made fro 3/16 inch carbon steel and the handle wood is Manzanita, a hardwood from the local Oregon woods of Dales foundry. We can not say enough good about this man, Dale is an ace. If you are looking for a handsome knife on a budget or just want to add an EDMF knife to your collection check out Dales web site at http://www.edmfknives.com for his full series. We endorse the man and his products completely.
U.S. / M.S.I marked Mark 2’s
We have recently spoken with three folks concerning these knives. To date we still have no idea who they are or were, if they were actual military purchase or commercial sales. Still too many questions with too few answers to suit us. One fellow sent us an e-mail that led to a bulletin board posting, the following from "gunbarrel":
The only "MSI" knife makers I could find were:
Mughal Sons International
Mughalsons International, Wazirabad, Pakistan
Manufacturers, Exporters of all Kind of Knives, Swords.
The website is no longer active. LOL, you reckon they are Pakistan's "finest"? :-D
So there we have a thread to tug on a bit to see where it leads us in this adventure. These knives are not that old, from the 1980’s and 1990’s so we would guess that someone knows who these fellows are. Do you??
Last but not least we have a photo sent to us by our good friend Frank Maiorano. We have received a bit of information on these but are still looking for more. We all know the information written up by Mr. Cole in his book but we are looking for the real info on it. It is also this months mystery knife. Check it out.
The Charge of the Light Brigade
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
We have just re-read this work at the behest of our daughter. We attended a book fair with her over the weekend and toured the campus library. Could have spent hours in there but we still had more books for sale to look at. One section of that library held the classic in a beautiful reading room. Tennyson was selected off the shelf and we were surprised at how much of it we could still recite. Worth a read again, brings back memories of younger days.
Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!
"Charge for the guns!" he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Their's not to make reply,
Their's not to reason why,
Their's but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.
Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turn'd in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel'd from the sabre stroke
Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.
When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made,
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred.
"If we are wrong [about Iraq], we will have destroyed a threat that, at its least, is responsible for inhuman carnage and suffering. That is something I am confident history will forgive. But if our critics are wrong, if we are right ... and we do not act, then we will have hesitated in the face of this menace when we should have given leadership. That is something history will not forgive."
--Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair
"This country has nothing to fear from the crooked man who fails. We put him in jail. It is the crooked man who succeeds who is a threat to this country."
Provenance or Lack Thereof
We receive numerous queries asking for an opinion on various knives listed in auctions. Many times they are very easy to classify as the real thing or a reproduction. Perhaps the hardest to prove is the journey the knife was involved in. Many scabbards are marked to large battles and often the knives are also inscribed. A trooper’s name may be carved in or that of a sweetheart is often drawn in the leather. These items are much more difficult to prove. While we often admonish not to buy the story sometimes the story is what makes the knife. A theatre knife is one such piece that is difficult to attribute to a specific place or time. Even the ordinary USMC fighting / Utility knife can double in value with the proper provenance. So we get to the point, what exactly is provenance? Provenance is fact, not an opinion, supposition or a feeling. These are emotions and have not business in the provenance field. Although there are exceptions to this rule we will explore later it is a very hard and fast rule. The trouble usually starts in online auctions from the feedback we most often receive. A seller will state that the object for sale was at a specific place in time. How can the seller prove this? Well unless he was there and carried the piece it is a very hard thing to prove. Even then we have often been told that a certain knife or other piece of equipment was carried at Guadalcanal when we know for fact it was not even invented at the time. Again in those cases it is rather easy to point out such mistakes through rudimentary research in books or records. A knife that was not made until 1974 could not have been worn during the siege of Khe Sanh regardless of what the seller states or was told by the previous owner.
Provenance can take many forms and we often see them listed at various auctions. Signed certificates, catalog or book pages, sales receipts, names of the previous owners, articles mentioning the knife (many of which we have written often accompany listings) and even appraisal forms are sometimes seen. All of this is to ease the potential bidder as to the originality of the offered piece. It may also offer valuable information on the piece that the prospective bidder did not know, usually naming an expert in the field. Many of the unscrupulous sellers lurking in the shadows will often go to extreme lengths to add provenance to an item listing many facts about the items gleamed from the readily available books on the subject. It is easy to buy a $20.00 book to enhance a knife from $20.00 to $400.00. We mention online auctions but this exists in any gun or knife show you will visit this year. Fakes and reproductions abound and with some skillful work the knife can appreciate overnight. Even a WW II era knife that is a collectible in its own right can appreciate by showing ownership to an elite unit or a well-known personality. A mint condition M3 is a very collectible knife, but if Audie Murphy owned the knife is will appreciate at least 20 times its value. That same knife can double in value by the inclusion of a patch from the First Special Service Force and a stock photo showing a Brave wearing an M3. The photo may have come from the National Archives for $15.00 and the patch from another auction, neither of which is directly attributable to the knife but being placed in a grouping will add quickly to the value. In all the cases above we again admonish to buy the knife not the story.
There is no proof to any of these scenarios, a fool and his money are soon parted.
This leads us to the question of how do we indeed establish that the provenance is real? The biggest mistake is bidding on an object that is listed with provenance without actually seeing the provenance first. In most cases we seen the various excuses as to why the seller will not show the provenance until the auction is over and then only to the winning bidder. We have e-mailed a few of these listings asking questions about the provenance while stipulating we would NOT be bidding, we are just a researcher trying to gain knowledge on the specific item. In a few cases the seller would gladly acknowledge our efforts and comply with the request, but in an overwhelming number of the cases the request is outright denied or never answered. Some folks have written back that they know of our work and are glad to be of assistance in any way, these we accept at face value as a fellow collector but still not as proof of fact. The provenance can then be examined and used for verification. If the seller will not show the provenance prior to your bid, we just wouldn’t bid, it just isn’t worth the sting that is almost sure to come. Provenance must also specifically mention the item that is being bid on. This seems almost elementary but you might not believe the amount of items we have seen that aren’t mentioned in the supposed provenance. This just isn’t valid provenance. Look out for key words "believe", "supposed", "like", "I was told" and "my uncle". These are leading words that are very easy for the seller to use as fact or proof yet they don’t hold water in a fact-finding mission. "My uncle carried one just like it" isn’t provenance on that specific piece; in fact it isn’t provenance on anything at all. "I believe this to be one of the few remaining examples used by the FSSF". We read an outstanding post on this subject that we will present here for all to read. "The Key Word here is "believes." That word enables a rhetorical argument of fact based on a feeling, substantially different than "knows" or "knowing". A person can "believe" in the Easter Bunny, despite knowing the logical implausibility of such a creature. Beware." Keith, wherever you are that is a masterpiece.
Another often-used provenance is prior ownership. Often an item will be listed or sold as coming from the "blank" collection. We have owned and sold thousands of knives over the years, so what does it prove if it came from the Frank Trzaska collection? We have stated it before that we buy fakes, frauds and reproductions when they are cheap, dirt-cheap and we have sold many of them to other collectors stated as such. Just because the item supposedly came from a known collector does not make it what the seller is stating it is. We have seen our name used in auctions by people we have never met, spoken with, e-mailed or had any interaction with, repeatedly. We have seen our articles reproduced and featured in auctions on pieces that we know are wrong. We have seen names listed on items that are experts in their fields but are not in the knife business at all. These are just some of the tricks used by sellers pushing a sale at all costs. Another one is a certificate of authenticity that is a photocopy of an original. How many times can the original be copied and used over and over again. NEVER accept a copy of a letter or certificate as proof that this particular item is the item in question. Even if the story is the dog ate the original, don’t buy it. Now just what can we accept as proof….
As we stated provenance is fact. We can state with fact that a WW II era Kabar was part of the Marines Corps gear during the invasion of Okinawa, we can also state with fact that the same knife could not have hit the beach on the initial wave at Guadalcanal, it wasn’t invented yet. These are facts. A signed and notarized letter from the veteran that the particular knife in question accompanied him during his travels is great provenance if the knife is of the correct era. A veterans DD214 stating where he had been is also likely to add to the value. A signed and notarized letter from an acknowledged expert in the field can state that a knife is of the proper era adding to it’s worth. A hand made but unmarked knife can be validated by an expert in the field by stating it is built to the same specifications as other known models from the same maker. This can turn a $50.00 theatre type knife into a $5,000.00 knife made by a well-known personality such as M.H. Cole. Appraisals can also add value to a knife, again only if made by a respected expert in the field, signed and notarized, photocopies are nothing more that paper with ink on them in this category. Photos of the person carrying the knife along with letter to the effect can quickly add value and provenance to a plain common knife. As you can see we have used the notary in several of the above scenarios but it is a common mistake to think the notary is the end all to fact. In fact the notary just proves the signature is of the correct individual, not that the story is true so just because the paper is notarized does not make the story it tells true. So keep it in mind when you see the perforated paper that it isn’t proof in itself.
These are just a few examples of the common sting of provenance and the proof of fact one should expect when buying an attributed knife. There are others for sure, we are only pointing out a few that we commonly see and are asked about. Know before you bid when you are trying to buy the story.
The German Army has placed an order for 15,000 of the new one hand opening knives from Victorinox. Deliveries were to begin in April of 2003 for general issue to all hands. The main blade contains a locking mechanism that is a very good idea. It was tested by the US for adoption on the common MIL-K knife back during WW II but deemed unnecessary at the time, pity they didn’t see the usefulness at the time. It was kept on the screwdriver blade of the TL-29 which is a very good idea allowing extra pressure to be exerted without fear of the blade folding on ones fingers. The one handed opening is based on the simple Spyderco design of a hole on the blade with the humped back design. The knife was developed at the request of the German Army, which specifically requested a blade with single-handed operation. Cool knife.
AN AMERICAN VISITS FRANCE
While we know it is only a internet urban legend we found it humorous enough to pass along…
An elderly American absent mindedly arrived at French customs at Paris airport and fumbled for his passport. "You have been to France before Monsieur?", the customs officer asked sarcastically. The ancient Yank admitted that he had been to France before. "Then you should know enough to have your passport ready for inspection", snapped the irate official.
The American said that the last time he came to France he did not have to show his passport. "Impossible, old man. You Americans always have to show your passports on arrival in France. "The old American gave the Frenchman a long hard look. "I assure you, young man, that when I came ashore on Omaha Beach in Normandy on D Day in 1944, there was no Frenchman on the beach asking to see my passport!"
-- Author Unknown
We often hear of a knife having an NSN as proof of issue. Well it could be fact but doesn’t always make it so. It merely means it is in the system and available to anyone who chooses to order it.
The NATO Codification System (NCS) has been in place since the mid-1950s. It provides standards for the use of a common stock identification system throughout the NATO alliance. Countries that participate in the NCS follow common standards and techniques to assign NSNs to items of supply in their defense inventory. The National Codification Bureau (NCB) within each country centrally assigns their national NSNs. The assignment of an NSN fixes the identity of each distinctive item of supply. All NSNs are uniform in composition, length, and structure. Each is represented by a 13-digit number, which can be divided into 3 unique parts:
The first four digits are the NATO Supply Classification (NSC) code, which relates the item to the group and class of similar items (generally 1005 or 1095 for knives and bayonets). The next two digits indicate the assigning NCB code (each country has its own two-digit NCB code - the United States uses "00" and "01") the final seven digits are assigned sequentially and have no inherent significance. However, this number relates to one and only one item of supply within the codifying country.
A National NSN is 11 digits long, virtually the same number minus the two-digit NCB code.
Probably more then you wanted to know about the NSN.
"I know it's hard on America. And in some small corner of this vast country ... there's a guy getting on with his life perfectly happily, minding his own business, saying to you, the political leaders of this country, 'Why me, and why us, and why America?' And the only answer is because destiny put you in this place in history, in this moment in time, and the task is yours to do."
--Prime Minister Tony Blair addressing a joint session of Congress.
The Crash Axe
Who can tell us anything about the AAF crash axe? We have found one marked like so:
"TEST FOR 20,000 VOLTS 42D9331 on one side. The other is marked: THE RULETA CO. INC. NEW YORK. NY U.S.A."
Just who is or was Ruleta? How many were produced? Who designed them? We want to tell the story but need some info.
New Aircrew Survival KnifeWell it became official, beginning in April 2004, Army aviation crews will have a new tool to help them survive in case of an aircraft accident. Aviation crews will use the new aircrew survival egress knife (ASEK) to assist in safely exiting an aircraft, including cutting seatbelts or other restraints. The old Jet Pilots Survival knife is moving on into history with the adoption of the new knife. Several knives were in on the testing and bidding procedure but there could only be one winner. The Ontario Knife Company was selected to supply the knives based on the design they submitted. We are currently in contact with Ontario and hope to handle and test one of these knives soon. The new knife is expected to be fielded as part of the new "Air Warrior System", which aims to improve the life-support equipment pilots and crew members wear and carry with them when flying in training or combat missions. Eventually it will be given to every aircrew member who gets a survival vest. If it is anything like the JPK it will see much wider distribution via the five finger discounts and trading community while in the field. We wouldn’t expect anything less from our warriors!
Thank Heaven! At last the trumpets peal
Before our strength gives way.
For King or for the Commonweal--
No matter which they say,
The first dry rattle of new-drawn steel
Changes the world to-day!
Rudyard Kipling, Edgehill Fight
Crozier Tech Knives
Since we ran the article on Knives and Schools in the April 2003 issue of Knife World we have received a lot of feedback on the topic but very little on additional knives known to have come from Crozier. Well we just received an e-mail from our good friend Tommy Knox which is a possible. Tommy is primarily a Civil War and Bowie collector but also picks up other military knives when they appeal to him. Shown here are the photos that he e-mailed to us. A nice Theatre type knife that would almost go unnoticed except for a few markings which makes it rather curious to us. The blade is engraved TECH HIGH with the name BILLY TAWATER also residing there. Now a quick search has show the Tawater name to be very popular in the Dallas area, where the knife was picked up by the way at a local estate sale. So we have a local name in a local estate sale with the Tech High engraving, this all puts a lot of clues on the table and produces a fairly convincing story. But it is all circumstantial at this time. Do we have any readers who are local to Dallas? The Crozier Tech Archives are housed in the Dallas Public library. Wouldn’t it be great to place old Billy Tawater in the Crozier Tech school circa the early 1940’s? The knife itself does not follow the descriptions given for the known knives but it does generate our interest. Anyone…?
We think that it took a lot of guts for an American President to fly into enemy territory in time of war. Don’t think for a minute that had it been known the bad guys would have hesitated a second to pull the trigger on a surface to air missile. What it boils down to is that we have a Commander in Chief who sincerely cares enough about the men and women in combat that he is willing to risk his own life to go to them and let them know they are appreciated. We will never forget the day that a sitting President of the United States flew into the heart of a war zone just to say thank you.
M1 Garand Converted Knife
Here is a good one we had not seen before turned up by our good friend Stan Tranquillo. Stan is a great hunter and continually turns up some great items. This is a converted M1905 Garand bayonet converted into a hunting knife for or by the R.S. Elliott Arms Company. These knives may have been spotted many time before but this is the first example we have seen with the decal still afixed. The R. S. Elliott Arms Company was a local company based in Kansas City Mo. Which dealt in the sporting arms business. This is a prime example of a reasonably priced knife available from surplus goods. Many were converted by different companies over the years as the availability of the items was large, the demand for quality items were high and the prices could be kept to a minimum. This is a great example is excellent condition. Wish it had the scabbard so we could also identify it. Thanks Stan for sharing it with us, and keep up the great work!
Return to Index Page