If you’ve been around folding knives for many years you’ve no doubt seen some of the vintage metal handle knives. And if you grew up in the 1950’s or 60’s you most likely owned a couple as well. Rather then the traditional bone or wood handles, the scales were fashioned from metal panels. This greatly simplified and reduced the production cost.
The metal handle most frequently had a ‘jigged bone’ type of pattern worked into it. Recently, a friend forwarded some interesting photos of some of the old dies that were used to create these handles. The dies of these two Imperial Knives are probably familiar to most all of us as these were really common patterns that we’ll still see regularly at shows and flea markets. It would be interesting to know just how many of these patterns were run over the years.
These dies were used to stamp out the covers for the knives. No need for bolsters, wood/bone panels or concerns over spun pins. Just a slick metal sleeve to finish things off.
It’s interesting to note the die stamp indicating the proper orientation on the handle as well as the date.
It wasn’t’ that many years ago that you would see a display box sitting on the counter at your local hardware store with a variety of handle and color options. The main attraction was price. I don’t have it anymore but I remember having a medium size ‘scout’ style knife with the metal handles. The discussion I recall was how tough a knife it was being all “STEEL”. No chipping or cracking!!!! And considering all the games of Stretch and Mumblety-Peg we played, that was a consideration!
Here are a couple more contemporary metal handle knives. Some of the releases tended to get a bit more interesting with different designs and patterns in the handles. These two examples are a bit newer consisting of just a flat panel attached without a liner.
Thanks to our friend for sharing the pix of the dies with us. It’s always interesting to see how things get made.
I got a box of the GEC 99 Wall Street knives in today with American Chestnut handles. This is one of the first GEC 440C knives we’ve seen in a while. Nice looking knife with a brushed finish on the bolsters.
In the last ten years I know I’ve purchased and disposed of numerous Knife Collections. When I say knife collections, I’m referring to groups of at least 15-20 pieces. Some ran well over 100 pieces. Until the last few years, most of the knife collections I bought were primarily made up of GEC knives.
I tended to stay away from collections comprised of random assortment of knives ranging from Rough Riders to Randall’s and everything in between. The main reason I had avoided those collections was that they fell outside of most of my customers interests. Great Eastern Cutlery had sucked most of the air out of the room and many of the new GEC collectors were recovering Case, Queen, Schatt & Morgan collectors focusing on the new GEC’s.
In the last year or so, the number of new releases from GEC has dropped off and their ‘allocation’ method of distribution combined with their SFO program really changed the landscape. The days of getting all the knives needed to fill customer demand are gone. As a result, I made a minor shift in the business plan and started getting more interested in acquiring ‘non-GEC’ collections.
It makes life a lot more interesting as I’m often venturing into unknown territory. Here’s a good example of a head scratcher when it comes to bidding on a knife collection.’
From Top left clockwise, there is a “Tell” German Scout Knife, a vintage Winchester Muskrat, a Jack Knife Ben ranchers knife and a vintage Empire, Winsted CT. Mix 10 similar knives in with a group of GEC’s and pre-1965 Case knives and you’ve just blown the better part of the day figuring out exactly what you’ve got. It can be time consuming, often frustrating but also a lot of fun. The challenge comes into play when someone reminds you you’re doing this to make a living and not necessarily ‘have fun’. Reality can suck.
On the upside, every now and then there are true treasures to be found. Like mining for gold, all it takes is the occasional bit of ‘color’ to keep you coming back for more. In the last couple of weeks I listed several knives that I felt were real finds.
Western Knife Co Lever Lock
As a result, it’s brought in a number of new collectors to the storefront looking for more of this type of item. There are also a few GEC collectors getting bored and starting to look at different collectibles. If you’re thinking of selling your collection or just getting rid of your odds and ends, let me know. I’m willing to look at most anything but prefer to stay with higher quality collectibles.
On a side note, I’ve had some problems with the USPS of late. Tracking information has been somewhat spotty in actually following a packages progress. Packages have traveled from the midwest to the East Coast and back to the West Coast for delivery. Some packages hit the distribution center in Chicago where tracking seems to fall into a black hole. Worse, a customer recently lost a knife with tracking info showing it supposedly had been delivered.
What makes this particular incident frustrating is that the post office uses Geo Tags which shows the exact physical location when a delivered package is scanned at your door. In this case, the PO said there was a substitute mail delivery person that day that they couldn’t identify.(?) Second, the package wasn’t actually ‘scanned’ at the delivery location but a ‘note’ was made the package was delivered.(???) And somehow the info on the ‘note’ was added to the tracking info showing the package as delivered. (?????) I’m calling BS on this one.
After several phone calls on the part of the customer he was told he could file a complaint with the Inspector General but it was ‘doubtful’ anything would come from the complaint. I strongly encouraged him to file the complaint anyway. If any of you have worked for the Federal Government you all know the last thing any department head wants is an IG investigation. While it probably won’t find his knife, I’m hoping it puts some heat anyone that may have misappropriated it.
The really sad thing about the situation is that insurance wouldn’t have made any difference as the Post Office is standing their ground that the package was delivered. Likewise a claim filed with PayPal would have the same outcome.
I wish I could offer up a solution to avoid situations like this but short of requesting a signature for deliveries… That’s not something I want to do as I know how difficult it can be for me to always be available to sign for packages and I’ve had customers specifically tell me NOT to request a signature for deliveries to them. I may however, add “signature requested” as an option when you place an order. It adds about $2.50 to the cost of an order delivered within the US. I’ll see.
Last year was the first year we headed to North Dakota for the Michael Odermann Memorial Scholarship Pheasant Hunt. Mike tragically died in a hunting accident a number of years ago. His family started the Memorial Pheasant Hunt to honor Mike and raise scholarship money for area students.
The whole event is truly a family affair. Mike’s parents, siblings, his kids, uncle/aunt, nephews, and nieces all play a role in making this event the success it is. It’s a pretty amazing family unit.
To give you a sense of the type of people make up this family, the evening we arrived for the banquet we were greeted by family members as soon as we walked in the door. The next morning we went out the ranch to get organized. My adult nephew was celebrating his birthday and when he walked in the door he was greeted by the Odermann’s singing happy birthday with a caramel roll and a candle in the middle of it. It’s almost impossible to be around this family without a smile on your face and feeling good about life in general.
Things kick off on Friday nite with a banquet, raffles and door prizes. The Memorial Pheasant Hunt started a few years ago with a handful of teams and expanded to 10 teams this year and the promise of one or two new teams joining in next year. I believe there were over a 100 people that showed up to participate in the banquet portion of things and needless to say, a good time was had by all!!
I know the auctions were really successful this year with folks opening up their wallets for a great cause. It felt great to have the Trestle Pine Buddy that our team donated bring in $700 at auction. The blade was engraved “Making Memories ~ 2018” which was a philosophy Mike lived by and this Memorial Hunt does a fabulous job passing that feeling on to all of us.
The Memorial Hunt consists of teams of 6 hunters that compete in a Pheasant hunt on Saturday morning following the banquet. There are a number of ways to end up in the money including bringing in the rooster with the longest tail feather, which I believe was worth $500! Prizes and winnings can run well over a $1000 but even at that, the competition couldn’t be more friendly with lots of good natured joking back and forth.
Our team once again had the privilege (and I do mean Privilege) of hunting on the Odermann Ranch with Mike’s dad (Jim) and Jim’s brother-in-law Charlie as guides and ‘transporters’. In other words, we had a guided hunt on private property in the middle of pheasant country.
The weather was gorgeous and the birds were plentiful. The fact that all of us didn’t limit out fell on our shooting ability (or I should say, lack thereof). We definitely had our chances but no one left disappointed. Our host was concerned we didn’t get more birds but we did our best to convince him all of us had an incredible time. To top everything off, 3 of us came home with 3 new hunting rifles we won worth close to $3000 AND, an invitation to another prime rib feed and trapshoot next spring. Personally, I ended up with a new Prairie Dog gun in the form of a new Browning X-Bolt Hells Canyon in 300 Win Mag. Maybe not….
I didn’t take any photos cleaning up birds with the Hess Bird and Trout, but it did get pressed into service. Great little knife and really handy to carry.
I have to keep pushing to get Jacob Odermann to share some pictures with us of his knife making projects. Jacob is relatively new to knife making but it sounds like he’s getting into it. It’s always fun to see someone’s work.
I could go on but by now you probably get the feeling we all had a fantastic time. Again. Everyone on our team feels privileged that we’ve gotten to know the Odermann family. Their son Mike’s philosophy of Making Memories is sure working for all of us!!
This morning I listed a few of the knives from the new collections recently acquired. It’s a bit of an eclectic group of knives with a mixture of GEC’s (new and old stock) and a few rather nice non-GEC knives.
One of the nicest pieces is a 1980’s vintage Al Mar “Fang”. I’ve handled Al Mar knives in the past and was always impressed with the quality. The Fang is a real gem and rather difficult to find.
I used one of the Hess Bird & Trout knives a couple of weeks ago on a trip up north and while they’re not practical for 98% of my needs, I really like the feel of them for ‘detail’ work. This is rather strange as I’m not a big fan of the smaller traditional folders. The short handle of the traditional folder gets lost in my hand while the Bird & Trout knives offer a bit more handle for me to hang onto. This weekend I’m heading to North Dakota for some pheasant hunting and I’m hoping to get to use that Hess on some birds.
There are more knives in these new collections to be listed but it’s going to be a while before I can get to them. We have a funeral out of town this week and then it’s a road trip for the weekend. I’ll trickle them onto the website as I can.
Sorry, I hit the “Publish” button before I was done. Regarding the gun show this past weekend…… It was a slow show that wasn’t heavily attended. While a few local customers did make it in there were a lot of familiar faces that didn’t.
I’m not quite sure what caused the low attendance as this is typically a really good show for most exhibitors. The weather wasn’t conducive to working in the yard or field so I’m not sure where folks were holed up. And the people that did come in were reluctant to open up their wallets. That was pretty much the consensus with all of the exhibitors.
The upside to a slow show is you get the opportunity to spend some time visiting with people about everything from knives, guns and politics. One of the people I visited with was an 11 year girl and her father who are expat’s living in Denmark. She had been looking at the knife displays and when I approached her and said “hi” she commenced to explaining to me how many of the knives in my cases would be illegal in Denmark and much of Europe. It was pretty interesting to visit with her and both she and her dad were pretty well versed on the law. She left with a smile and a ‘legal’ Swiss Army Knife to take home with her. I love talking with these kids and encouraging their interest in knives.
As I said, we have a funeral to attend yet this week and then we head west, so I’m not sure I’ll get the usual Friday blog post up. Anything interesting comes up I’ll squeeze it in. Otherwise, I’ll try to get a few pictures of the hunt to share with you next week.
Almost forgot to mention the Gun Show this weekend at the National Guard Armory in Fergus Falls, MN!! This is always a good Gun Show and I hope some of the locals can drop by for a visit.
It’s a good weekend for a Gun Show as the weather definitely hasn’t been Fall ‘like’. Thursday morning we woke up to a 3″ coating of new snow. Parts of North Dakota had up to 17″. This is way to early for measurable snow, even up here.
This past week I also picked up a nice group of knives in a couple of collections. I have the Gun Show this weekend and a hunting trip later next week so it’s going to be a while before I can get any of them up. There are also some more #14 Boys knives on their way from GEC that I’ll get listed in the next few days.
Again, hope to see a few of you in Fergus Falls this weekend!!
I had just a few notes to add regarding my most recent field trip and and as miserable as it is outside today, this is a good time to reflect on nicer days! We have gone from summer directly into late fall up here and I’m not really ready for it.
On the recent field trip I had and opportunity to use one of the Blackjack knives and was pleased with its overall performance. I also did a little more experimenting with the Baddest Bee Fire Fuses.
Don’t get the idea that the Fire Fuses are strictly for the prepper or regular camper crowd. If you have a wood burning fireplace or just enjoy a fire in a backyard fire ring the Fire Fuse is a handy and effective fire starting aid. They’re particularly handy when combined with some fatwood.
Before I went on the last field trip I took a couple of the fatwood sticks and drilled a 3/8″ hole in side of the stick. When I was ready to light a fire, I shaved a rooster tail on the fatwood and inserted about a 1″ length of Fire fuse.
A brief note, if you drill a hole try to save the shavings from the drilling and save them in a small zip lock. Those shavings make great fire starting aids.
The whole purpose of drilling the hole rather then just wedging the Fuse into the rooster tail was to make for a more secure ‘attachment’. I light the Fire Fuse with a Fire Steel on a solid surface and then move it under my kindling. This is much easier then placing the fatwood stick and then trying to ignite the fire fuse.
The Fatwood and Fire Fuse combo will burn for 3-4 minutes which will usually get your kindling ignited even if you don’t split it particularly fine. This combination is really effective if you’re in damp conditions.
Over the years we’ve gotten pretty good at cooking over an open fire and have worked up a few recipes that are quick, easy, filling and taste good. Now, before you choke and gag at the following picture, let me tell you this is one of our favorites AND it tastes a whole lot better then it looks.
It’s a combination of cooked hamburger/onions and Cream of Chicken Soup. Simmer it for a few minutes and mix or serve over cooked long grain and wild rice. Add a little salt and pepper and enjoy. If you really want to get efficient, prepare your hamburger/onion/cream of chicken soup mixture at home and freeze it in a zip lock. I use Uncle Ben’s minute rice so that’s easily cooked in camp. You can warm up the hamburger in the zip lock bag in a pan of boiling water then serve it over the cooked rice. That’s about as easy as it gets.
On an entirely different note, I’m glad we went on the field trip a week ago as we hit the leaf colors at their peak.
Just a few weeks earlier we were starting to see the leaves starting to change, the blueberries were finishing up and the Choke Cherries were at their peak.
We ate the blueberries as we picked them but if you’re familiar with Choke Cherries, you don’t eat them without some prep. Personally, the best way to serve the Choke Cherries is in the form of Jelly or Syrup over pancakes. Both the Jelly and Syrup are easy to make and bBelieve me, it’s well worth the effort.
So that’s how we finished up the trips north. Good eats while we were there and when we got home. Not a bad way to end the season.
The boats are out of the lake and we’re wrapping things up for winter. Next weekend I have a gun show in Fergus Falls, MN and the following week we go to North Dakota pheasant hunting for a few days. Then in another month I can start bitching about the cold weather. It’s been a good year so far.
I finally got a Blackjack 124 into the field this week and actually go to use one a bit. There are lots of ways to ‘review’ a knife and for me, getting it out on a field trip beats sitting in the office looking at it.
It’s a midsize, fixed blade knife with the capability of doing a good job on small ‘projects’ and totally capable of heavier duty tasks including large game dressing. The fit and finish are flawless.
The first thing I appreciated was the generous handle which gave me plenty to hang onto. On lighter duties like kitchen detail, a small diameter, shorter handle is fine. For heavier duty (which the 124 is capable of) I want a knife that gives me something to hang onto.
In addition, the ricasso between the front of the guard and the sharpened edge gives me plenty of room to get my index finger in position to give better control for more delicate work. So often the larger knives don’t leave enough room to manuever.
I really liked the profile of the blade. The thickness of the blade near the guard provides plenty of strength for a little prying and twisting. As you move toward the tip there’s a noticeable thinning of the blade giving you the ability to make finer cuts. While I didn’t split any firewood with it, I have no doubt it would work fine on smaller pieces. I’d prefer to use a knife with a longer blade that carries that thickness farther down the blade for any serious batoning.
For a knife this length, it has a nice heft to it with the balance point behind the guard, just behind the first finger on the handle. It felt really comfortable with the weight shifted into my hand. The feeling of control was centered in my hand, not out in front of it.
On smaller belt knives like the Trestle Pine Buddy, I’m not a fan of the sheath retaining straps. They just seem to get in the way. The sheath of the 124 has a strap and it holds the knife firmly in place. In fact the first few times the strap was snapped shut, it was a bit of a chore to pull it over far enough to get it to snap. After a weekend of taking the knife in and out of the sheath and re-snapping the strap, it got easier to snap without losing its tight retention. When it’s snapped in, the 124 doesn’t move….at all.
Convex ground edges are the rule on most of the Bark Rivers as well as the Blackjacks. I’m a huge fan of the convex grind and the Blackjack 124 is typical of convex edges. They like to cut. The edge bites in and just wants to keep on going. I didn’t use the knife enough to take the edge off but my experience with the Bark River A2 Steel makes me confident the Blackjack will perform similarly. It holds an excellent edge and doesn’t require a machine shop setup to dress the blade.
Over the years, I’ve had an opportunity to pick out what I feel are the best fixed blade knives for my personal uses. I’ve added and deleted according to my needs and likes. This will give you an idea of my regulars. I’ll admit I’ve got a few more that go in and out of rotation, but these are my current regular ‘go to’ knives. There’s a mixture of blade steels including 1095, A2, Maxamet, S4V, Laminated VG10, each having their own merits.
I had four days to cut, chop, split, slice and just get a feel of the Blackjack 124. In brief, I like it. A lot. It’s definitely going into the current rotation and fits that mid range size perfectly. If you use a knife in the field and want one that works and looks good, I highly recommend the Blackjack 124.
I won’t be shipping any orders until late next week as I’ve got one more window of opportunity to make a late season field trip up North. Fall is coming on and it’s a great time of the year to get out camping and enjoy the leaf color and maybe get a chance to see some wildlife.
A couple of years ago we had the opportunity to see 5 moose and a couple of timber wolves. The number of summer visitors is down and the woodland critters seem more willing to come out in the open. It’s just a great time of year to be outdoors.
On my earlier field trip, I had the opportunity to try out a few new and old products. One knife I didn’t get a chance to put to use is the Blackjack Model 125 and this time around I’ll give it a try. I think its really important to be able to talk about the knives I’m selling from first hand experience. The all look great in the display case, but do they actually work.
As in the past, the store will be open and orders accepted, but they will NOT ship until next Friday or Saturday. Depends on how much fun I’m having!!!