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Larry Brandstetter 1850 Sheffield Bowie Provenance

Some time back, I picked up a reproduction 1850 Sheffield Bowie built by Larry Brandstetter which I wrote up in a previous post.  Luckily, the individual I got the knife from was able to give me Mr Brandstetter’s name but couldn’t offer a lot more info.  A search of the internet didn’t turn up a whole lot more information.   All I really knew for certain was that this was one of the finest handcrafted knives I’ve been lucky enough to possess.

Larry Brandstetter 1850 Sheffield Bowie

The workmanship and attention to detail on the knife was impeccable.  The only identifying markings on the knife were on the ricasso.  It was marked with the makers initials and what I recently had confirmed, the serial #007.

Half Horse, Half Alligator Pommel
Nickel Silver Frog Clip

I bring this up for anyone interested in Larry Brandstetter and his knives as the amount of info about him is sparse at best for a knifemaker of his skill level.  The knife sold last week and I had the privilege of putting it in the hands of a personal friend of  Larry Brandstetter. He graciously shared a few details about the knife and Larry.  Here are a couple of excerpts from our email exchange you might find of interest.

“I just ordered and paid for the Brandstetter 1850 Sheffield Bowie.  Larry was a close personal friend of mine.  I have one small boot knife he made (not marked-way before he became known for his Sheffield Bowies).  I always wanted one of his Bowies but at the time could not come up with the money.  I used to go to his basement shop and watch him work on his bowies while we shot the breeze.  He and I were members of the same muzzle loading gun club and shot together monthly for years.  He also made some beautiful flintlocks.  I was at his funeral.  We had talked on the phone just a couple of weeks before his untimely death. I will treasure this knife and all the memories I have of my dear friend.  For your future reference, the number stamped on the piece is indeed the serial number.  I may have even watched him work on this piece.  Larry and I did knife making at the same time, though mine never achieved the craftsman ship of his.  I went on to scrimshaw and from time to time would supply Larry with ivory for use on his knives.  He did all the castings on knife and sheath himself.  The rifle he built for himself was a German Jager with swamped barrel, stock adorned with whale ivory and silver fittings.  On the cheekpiece was an ivory Prussian eagle with silver shield and silver wire inlay.  On the sliding wood patch box were two carved ivory cherubs holding a scroll which stated (in German) “All your skill is of no avail if an angel urinates in your touch hole.”  I miss him greatly and have searched for one of his Bowies for years.  I’ve finally found one.  Thank you very much.  Thank you for the writeup on the piece.  I can tell you are a fan of quality knives.  Larry would have been proud.”

In a later exchange after he received the knife he sent me the following info:

“…..I believe the hilt is made of linen micarta. ……… I remember him making a knife with micarta because I commented that for not much more the guy could have had genuine ivory. He was polishing out the blade in his shop at the time. Could have been this knife. Larry also did some folders and one lovely push dagger. This bowie has certainly brought back some wonderful memories.”

I had to think about the comment regarding ivory costing only slightly more then micarta.  Then I realized that 30+ years ago he was probably right!

It doesn’t happen very often but it just really feels great being able to put someone together with a knife or gun that had personal meaning to them like this.   While I enjoyed my brief ownership of this knife, putting it in the hands of a personal friend of the makers is a great feeling.    Many thanks for sharing this personal information with all of us.

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Gorgeous 72 GEC upgrade

Had an ‘old timer’ forward a picture of a 72 GEC that he dressed up bit.  Not sure how it was originally finished, but it’s now wearing a beautiful pair of interior Ivory handles.  A Tidioute in Ivory is indeed a rare bird.

GEC 72 Ivory Custom
GEC 72 Ivory Custom
GEC 72 Ivory Custom
GEC 72 Ivory Custom

Gorgeous knife and a great job of upgrading.   The pins are finished flush and the general fit and finish look outstanding.  We used to see “production” knives like this come out of GEC fairly regularly.  Those were the days, eh?  Thanks for sharing!!!


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GEC Lockback Pix from Switzerland

And yet another photo I’ve had sitting in my mailbox that I’ve meant to share.  This is from a customer in Switzerland of a recent GEC Lockback he purchased and a couple of sheaths that he crafted to carry them.

GEC Lockback
GEC Lockback

I really like the nice even patina on that blade!!!  Once again, thanks for sharing the photo with us!!

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Impressive Display of GEC 42 Lockback Traders

Here’s another photo I wanted to share.  VERY impressive collection of GEC 42 Lockbacks.

“Hi Greg,

I told you I’d send a photo of the 421114LBs when I got a display case big enough to hold all 52 of them.  A 2′ X 2′ and not much room to spare.  Any how the photo is attached and most all of the knives came trough you, so thanks again.”  …….no thanks necessary.  Thank you for sharing!!!

GEC 42 Lockback Traders

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Case Museum Display Knife

Had a friend forward some pictures from the Case Museum of a display knife I thought you all might enjoy.   It’s a pretty impressive piece. The email accompanying the pix read as follows…..

“.……..Case/Zippo museum and store in Bradford PA. I took pictures of their new Case Trapper display knife. It is 24″ closed. I noticed the bone handles are four pieces on each side and overlapped in the center. Really darn knife job. The image is of blade grinders on the stone wheels and it wasn’t that long ago it was still being done. ….. It went from quarry made stone wheels, man made wheels in floor, mechanical concave and flat grinders machines to cnc and now robotic cnc……”

Case Museum Display Trapper
Case Museum Display Trapper


case6Many thanks for sharing this with us!!!

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Fallkniven HK9 Cowry X Review

Not too long ago I mentioned a customer had purchased one of the Fallkniven HK9 Cowry X knives.  I made a point of mentioning it because not only is it at the upper range in price for a ‘production’ knife, but the Cowry X steel in a Damascus is something we don’t run across on a regular basis.  The information I found left me pretty impressed and curious whether it was really all it claimed to be and was the Fallkniven HK9 Cowry X really worth the money.  If you care to read my initial comments, here’s a link to that post:  Fallkniven HK9Cx Wow!

Our friend Dave from Knife Leather Traditions was the customer and he’s been gracious enough to allow me share some of his emails to me regarding his impression so far.  For those of you that have communicated with Dave by email, you know it’s always fun to ‘read him’ as he does a fantastic job putting his thoughts into words.  I’ve posted some of his emails with only a minimal amount of editing of some info that might be of a personal nature.  There will be additional installments, so to start it off , here  ya go and thanks for sharing Dave!!

Fallkniven HK9 Cx Damascus

Fallkniven HK9 CX
Fallkniven HK9 Cx Damascus

“……… all started with a “Clean out and organize the garage” project early last month.
I spent a solid week going through every shelf and container, sorting, cleaning, organizing.  I had a trash pile, a keeper pile, and a take to the local swap meet pile.  At the end of the week the biggest pile went down to the local swap meet and I came home with $200 and pocket change, proving once again that anything will sell if it is priced cheap enough.
Then it was the guns and ammunition that I no longer use or “need”.  That cleaned out a ton of space and brought in a few more dollars I didn’t have previously. 
After that you tried out the Fallkniven U2, which reminded me of how much I enjoy the three Fallknivens you got for me and how superior they are to anything I had in knives.  I looked in the knife cabinet and decided I would really rather go with quality rather than quantity, and that was where the HK9cx came in as well as the U2……”

Two Days Later………

“It is here!!
I didn’t expect it until tomorrow so I never checked the mail until after afternoon.

This knife is so incredible, in so many ways, I don’t know where to begin.  I will try to put down my initial thoughts on it either later tonight or tomorrow, but all I can say right now is that it is even more than I expected.  This knife has to be taken in hand to be fully appreciated.  The balance and “feel” is amazing.
It would be a total shame not to use and enjoy such a knife, which I fully intend to do.

Even if one could not afford the HK9cx, the HK9 in 3g steel would be one heck of a working knife and a knife that would last a lifetime.  I will add more later but I just wanted to let you know it is here and I am more than impressed.”

Two HOURS later……

You are right.  I have been carrying it and handling it all evening and it just gets better.  I too am glad they did not try to make a $2.00 whore out of it with paint and pimping.  It is as it should be, an honest working knife for someone who appreciates such a thing.   There is so much to say about this knife I really don’t know where to begin.  The only sad thing is: why didn’t you and I have such a knife available when we were both in the hunting stage of our lives?  Wouldn’t it be fun to use it on game?  Even so, it is going to be one heck of an all around camp and trail knife.  I can’t wait to take it out.
When I first held this knife I was reminded of a favorite knife I got back in 1966 or so, just after I got out of the Army and was working on the old Milwaukee Road out of Montevideo, MN.  I got the knife from Eddie Bauer, back when Eddie Bauer sold real outdoor equipment and when you wanted “the best” you got out the Eddie Bauer catalog.  The best goose down parka I ever owned came from Eddie Bauer at the time.
Anyway, the knife was a part of a series made especially for Eddie Bauer by Gerber, again, back when Gerber was producing first class knives using some really good tool steels.  Al Mar was working at Gerber then, before he went on his own, and I used to correspond with Al, a gentleman of the first order and a really swell guy.  I always wanted to meet him but unfortunately never got the chance.  The knife had a 3/16″ thick blade, like the HK9, and also like the HK9 was ground to a fine working edge.  I don’t recall the blade steel but I do remember it was very hard, took and held a beautiful edge.  It was a substantial knife and made to be used.  Had a Stag handle and a butt cap.  Perhaps you remember the series.  The sheath was one of the best and well designed leather sheaths I have ever seen.  Just one heck of a knife.  I used that knife in the woods a lot and really enjoyed it.  For one reason or another I let it go and I always wished I had it back.  The HK9 reminds me of that favorite knife and brings back a lot of good memories.
This is just one very incredible knife!!  I don’t know what else to say………… 
Did you happen to notice that you can see the strip of Cowry X steel sandwiched in the center of the blade along the spine and tang?  It is quite thin but adequate for the edge, pretty much no matter how you sharpen it.  Interesting to be able to see it.  And as you know, it is shaving sharp right out of the box!”

Two Days Later…..

I am impressed with the sheath.  Probably the first thing I tend to look at in a sheath knife.
Very well made for a “factory” sheath.  Good quality, heavy leather, well designed, and the knife locks in solid with no danger of falling out.  I find it very serviceable and I am not intending on replacing it.  I just finished sealing and burnishing the raw edges and will put my usual wax finish on it, but other than proper hand stitching I could not improve on it too much.  For me that is saying a lot.  I am very pleased with this sheath.

At first I thought the knife was “heavy”, but in use and practice it is not.  Instead it is very well balanced so that only wrist action, combined with the natural balance and weight of the knife, does the work with a minimum of additional effort.  The knife practically works by itself so to speak.  A lot of thought and design went into it no doubt.

I tend to choke up on my sheath knives when slicing or fine cutting, laying my thumb and forefinger on either side of the blade just ahead of the guard, as in holding a chef knife.  This puts the end of the handle on the HK9 right up against the heel of my hand, just where it should be.  Therefore, the handle is correct, even for my size large hands.  The knife just seems to lay naturally in the hand and seems comfortable in any position held.  An extension of my hand rather than a separate object.  Pretty impressive really.

I am having a lot of fun with this…………..”

I have no doubt we’ll hear again from Dave.  I’m particularly interested to hear what he has to say about the quality of the blade steel once he gets a chance to really use the knife in the field.  The Fallkniven HK9 Cowry X has a great reputation but it’s always good to get some feedback from someone you know and trust with first hand experience.  Thanks again Dave!

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What’s a Split Spring?

Had a friend forward a great photo of some different types of Split Springs.  We talk about them from time to time.  People ask if a knife has a split spring, but rarely do we get to see what we’re talking about!  Here ya go and thanks again for sharing!!  That’s a penny on the right center side of the photo for reference.

Split Springs

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Everybody likes a bargain

I was just uploading some new/old stock in the store and realized there are some great bargains that are getting overlooked and some opportunities missed.   Every now and then, I’ll  see items that puzzle me as to why no one has picked up on them.  What really stood out this morning are the number of Genuine and older Natural Stag GEC’s that are available.  Not just my inventory, but around the internet.

One of the reasons I’m surprised so many are still offered for sale is the fact that rarely does GEC use “Genuine” stag anymore.  Most of the releases the past couple of years have been the “Natural”  or “Burnt” stag.    Genuine is cut from the ’round’ usually resulting in a better quality or match side to side while the Natural comes from the slabs (supposedly unburnt) and Burnt is torched to enhance the color.

When we first saw the Natural come out in 2011, the 530411 Natural Stags were actually cheaper then the same knife in Burnt Stag.  Today, the Natural Stag is considerably more expensive then Burnt.  I’m guessing they saw the consumer accept the Natural over Genuine without any problem so the prices quickly crept up but was kept below pricing for Genuine.  Considering the Genuine Stag is infrequently run anymore, it would seem that would enhance the collectibility and demand.

It’s always interesting to try and figure out the trends in this business, but …..don’t think I’ll live long enough to do it!  Always seems about the time you see a trend shaping up, the next trend is coming at you.  For the collector it always comes back to collecting what you like and forget about appreciation.  If prices drop or rise, it doesn’t matter, but there are still deals to be found!

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Very Neat Cattaraugus “Display Knife”!!

Had a very good friend of the knife industry forward this neat pic of a Cattaraugus Steak Knife.  Guess I should note this isn’t just your run of the mill ‘steak knife’  This was a display model measuring 2 FEET long.  Now, that’s a serious steak knife by any standard!!  (I have it on good authority this may have been a special factory order for Paul Bunyan.  It was a particularly cold winter, food was short and his ox Babe….well, anyway…)

“The blade image of the Catt. display knife is sitting on the green
protector on top of the former NYS Governor’s & President Teddy
Roosevelt’s large round table where he would meet with other important
dignitaries while in Cattaraugus Village.”  Pretty neat connection to the past and many thanks for sharing!!!  Sorry, I should have also added that this unique piece:

“Now resides in The American Museum of Cutlery, Cattaraugus NY“.

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