Knives: Think it’s Easy to Spot a Fantasy Knife?

 

Photo From Flikr

Old Weapons

 

During the Third Reich, millions of fancy dress daggers were ordered and distributed to the party faithful.

Coming in a variety of patterns, with various motifs and designs, these daggers have become popular collector’s items.

By the way, there are lots of dagger fakes around! However, that is not my story today.

Pocket Knives from the Third Reich

 

Photo From Flikr

Nazi Knives

If you attend many gun shows, swap meets or weapon extravaganzas, you are sure to see a variety of Nazi pocket knives.  Some have swastikas, Third Reich emblems, the Nazi eagle – or even Hitler’s likeness and/or autograph!

The only problem is that the Nazi’s never ordered pocket knives! Someone decided that if there was a market for fancy Nazi daggers, surely there would be those who would want to collect Nazi pocket knives!

A Fantasy Knife  Example

This is a twist on the ‘fantasy knife’ idea I mentioned yesterday.  Instead of the knife being a total fabrication, pocket folders were created as companions to the “real” Nazi daggers.

These fantasy pocket knives were created in the 1970’s for the swap

 

Photo From Flikr

Nazi Knife

 

meet trade. This should give you some idea of the care you need to take at  swap meets!

 

Most of these fantasy pocket knives were produced by Parker Cutlery of Tennessee.

Where These Knives are Now

These pocket knives are now available at estate sales and in antique stores.  This is why it is so hard to eliminate fantasy knives; if the pros in antique stores are fooled (or turn a blind-eye to them), what chance do you or I have?

If you don’t know your knife seller, know your history — before you buy a commemorative knife!

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* Before I get into trouble:  I’m not implying that all pocket knives from this era are fakes. Individuals may have produced Nazi knives – to fit in or to show their admiration for Hitler.

However, if a seller has several similar pocket knives and says they were produced for the Nazi’s, it didn’t happen.

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Full Disclosure: I don’t sell knives any more.  Because they have been popular, I left these articles online.

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This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

Knives: How are Knives Faked?

There are 3 types of faked knives: counterfeits, re-worked knives and fantasy knives!

Counterfeits

 

Bowie needed an extra horse to carry all the knives he's 'said' to have owned!

Bowie needed an extra horse to carry all the knives he's 'said' to have owned!

 

These are created by consciously copying quality knife brands for gain. Usually, they use the original’s name on the knock-off knife.

Counterfeiting shows in (1) the quality of  the materials used. Obviously, the idea is to use cheap materials and sell it for the high prices the originals command.

(2) The quality of the workmanship. If there are gaps or gapes in the way the knife is constructed, it is probably a fake.

(3) Pay particular attention to the markings. If you know a knife is made in the US and the knife states it was made in Taiwan, Korea or India, it is probably a fake!

Re-works – A Gray Zone

Sometimes a genuine old knife has been reworked. It might be as small as replacing a rivet or a bigger change — replacing a broken blade.

This may be an acceptable change if: the restored or replaced part is using authentic parts or using parts from that era and the seller reveals the change.

If the seller does not mention any changes made – this is outright fraud!

A much more troublesome area is when a cheap brand name is ground off and the knife is re-stamped with a more expensive brand name.

It’s important to study the evolution of lettering styles over the years in knives.  If the lettering does not fit the era of its construction, it’s probably a fake!

Fantasy Knives

These are knives for the gullible! They can’t be called counterfeits because the knife never existed!

These are knives that someone has created with the intention of tying it to a historical event or era.

Here’s an example.  A seller might offer a knife from the doomed ship, Arizona, from World War II (Pearl Harbor bombing by the Japanese).

Unless you know that the US government issued a knife with “Arizona” on its case to the sailors of this ship, pass this “treasure” by and don’t buy the story!

Finally

You really need to know your history before buying artifacts and knives from someone you don’t know.

Remember, if the knife does not work (and never did work) — it’s a fake.  Before knives became collectibles, they were used by their purchasers.

This may seem hard-nosed, but I assume all knives are fakes until proven otherwise!

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Next Time: An interesting story about “fantasy knives” that still fools some buyers!

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This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

Published in: on March 2, 2009 at 12:21 am  Comments Off on Knives: How are Knives Faked?  
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Knives: Can You Spot a Fake?

 

Not a Fake!

Not a Fake!

 

Faking knives in America really started in the 1950’s, as the idea of knife collecting started to take off in the US!  In case you think you’ve never seen any — there are table-fulls of fakes at gun shows, swaps and flea markets!

Show sponsors can’t figure out how to stop the practice. All you can do is protect yourself by learning as much as you can on the subject!

The most important thing you can  do is:  avoid buying a knife until you learn how to spot a fake.

Where Are Fakes Made?

Fakes are rarely made in the country of the original. The Germans and Japanese produce fakes of old American knives. You need to know what the “American style” of knife making is so you can tell when you are seeing a German or Japanese copy.

Fakes have a long history. London brands were copied by Sheffield knife makers in the 1600 and 1700’s.  By the 1800’s, Germans created pseudo-British knives for sale in America.

Now, German companies manufacture fakes of American knives; Italians make fakes for German and American companies!

Japanese offers fake collectibles because, world-wide, there is a demand for them. Pakistani companies copy the Japanese fakes and the Chinese copy everyone!

To top this all off, everyone copies the Swiss Army knives!  How can person catch fakes? It seems almost impossible! It sounds as if there are more faked knives than real ones!

Things to Watch

There are a few things to watch.  (1) Look at workmanship. If things do not work smoothly, if parts do not  fit together well (Are there any gaps or parts that do not fit together smoothly?), then it is most likely a fake.

(2) Does it work as a knife?  Unbelievably, sellers offer collectable knives that don’t work!  Keep in mind, knives  — even collectibles — were ALWAYS constructed for use!

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Next time: There are 3 types of faked knives: counterfeits, re-worked knives and fantasy knives! Learn about each type!

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Full Disclosure: I no longer sell Gerber knives and multi-tools on my site.  I’ve left these articles up because they have been popular and informational.

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This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

Published in: on February 28, 2009 at 4:38 pm  Comments (1)  
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What are 3 Important Factors in Buying a Knife?

A knife is a very personal purchase. It’s something I would never buy for another person.

 

Form Follows Function in Knives

Form Follows Function in Knives

 

If well-chosen, it becomes part of a person.  However, a poor knife choice soon joins others in the “junk drawer”  — never to see daylight  again.

“Cute-Ability” vs. Function

Before making your first decision — avoid making a knife choice on its “cute-ability” factor.  Impulse purchases, based on eye-appeal, are usually poor choices in the long-term.

Remember, that’s why manufacturers create so many styles and looks. If you choose by looks, you have eliminated choosing by function (what you need the knife to do).  Function is the basic reason you have decided to buy a knife.

What Do You Need a Knife to Do?

You may need a knife for several reasons. Make a list and decide which is the most important. For example: You may need a knife many times a day to help you repair things or cut twine, rope, etc. In another example, you might want a knife when you are fishing — to cut line or fillet fish.

In the first example, you will probably want a pocket knife, because you  need it available constantly. In the second example, a fixed-blade knife in your fishing toolbox may meet your needs.

By zeroing in on your most critical need, it helps you determine …

Fixed-Blade or Pocket Knife?

This is a significant decision — and not just because it eliminates looking at about 1/2 of the knives in a store.  What are you most comfortable with — something sheathed and attached to your belt or a smaller tool in your pocket?

Pick out several. Try walking and sitting  down with samples of each type.  If the sheath is uncomfortable, move it on the belt and/or  try another style.

Does the pocket knife feel comfortable? Is it easy to use?  Does it feel like a large rock in your pocket?  How about one of the newer clips that attach the knife to a front or back pocket?

Finally

I believe selecting a knife has gotten much harder in the last couple of decades.  We have literally gotten to the point where there are too many choices.

There are so many gorgeous items (attractive to the eye), that I have a hard time remembering why I’m looking at knives. Maybe you have that problem too?

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This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

Published in: on February 18, 2009 at 10:03 pm  Comments (1)  
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How Knives Are Changing

There was a time when one could learn the names of 6 or 10 knives, and be set for life. Over the next 40+ years, you would not expect much to change in the knife world.

If you have looked around lately, you realize those days are long gone.

All those ‘Rambo’ Wanna-Be Knives 

Drop Point Skinning Blade

Drop Point Skinning Blade

 

 

Remember when we drooled over the “cool” factor of Rambo-styled knives? Now, emergency medical technicians, the military and police routinely use those knives because they offer job-specific tools, such as seat-belt cutters, safety blade tips and wire cutters.

It seems that “if you can dream it, you can make it” in the world of knives. Individual craftsmen keep pushing the envelope of invention and technology continues to provide more techniques and materials.

Hunting Knives

The era of specialization has hit hunting knives, as well as most other types of knives. MDH’s* favorite pocket knife looks like an arcane memento from the past.

Although made of stainless steel, his knife wouldn’t know what a knife lock was! It was made in the day when honing one’s knife was a ritual that a man passed on to his son.

Now we have hunting knives specific to each task: gut-hook knives for field dressing and small, sharp knives for caping deer  – as well as other close work.

Specific AND Generalized Knives

Actually, you can have knives both ways: very specific tools or generalized instruments. Some knives labeled hunting and camping knives can do everything from food preparation to skinning and butchering wild game.

Most of the hunters I know have  about a dozen knives – but tend to use 2 or 3 faves.  Once folks find a tool that feels good and works well, they tend to find more uses for that tool.

Safety Has Become More Important

Twenty years ago,  blades had slip joints or basic locking mechanisms. Now, most knives come with high-tech locks, plus other safety features to avoid lock failure.

Who would have ever thought we would have knives with replaceable blades? Or locking sheaths? Or knives that keep their edge for years?

The Future of Knives

The future looks very rosy. Sportsmen and women are willing to pay for innovation. The prices charged for knives as collectibles seem to increase every week.

With knives, people have learned that “you get what you pay for.”  As more people try crafting their own knives, they have come to appreciate the craftsmanship of both the very old and the very new.

Knives and You

If you have thought about collecting knives, prices will probably never be lower. Jump in soon!

Because of the ever increasing improvements in today’s knives, you may be shocked by the huge variety of knives available to hunters and anglers.

My problem is that I’m afraid to buy today for fear that tomorrow they will improve it so much, I’ll have to have that one too. Maybe that is the definition of a “knife collector.”  Hmmmm.

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This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

Published in: on February 5, 2009 at 8:45 am  Comments (1)  
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Knife Round-Up: The Many Facets of Knives

At one time, I sold Gerber & Leatherman tools and did a series of informational articles about knives.  I was going to erase the group, however, they are read so often, I just left them up for my readers.

These articles are not about Gerber specifically, although I often use Gerber knives to illustrate the post.

Guess Who Collects Knives?

For about 5 weeks, I was carrying around a large (picture) book* of  knives – ancient and modern.  I had no idea how popular knives are!

I nearly dropped my teeth, however, when women would walk up to me and talk about their knife collections!

Maybe it’s just a Texas thing.

* The name of the book is in one or more of the articles.  I borrowed it from the Houston Public Library.

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This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

Knives: the Tanto, Drop Point & Sheepsfoot Blades

I don’t sell knives any more. However, this series has proven so popular, I’ve left the info on this site.  Therefore, the photos are not clickable.

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This is a series on knife blade types that appears occasionally. Today, the Tanto, Drop Point and Sheepsfoot Blades  are up for discussion.

Tanto Blade

The Tanto is based on an old Japanese Samurai design. It has a shallow grind on both sides of the single edge.  The American Tanto is fairly angular and has a chisel grind on one side of the edge.

Generally, the edge is parallel to the spine until it sharply angles about 45 degrees to a point.

tn_firestormserrated

Example of Tanto Blade

That leaves the point thick and incredibly strong.  This makes for great control in piercing and penetration.

It doesn’t hurt that the design LOOKS lethal and is very marketable because of its tactical persona. The military uses this design for some applications, bolstering its ‘Rambo’ looks.

Originally, the tanto was created to pierce armor. The main negative of this style of knife is that the cutting edge is secondary to the powerful thrust of the knife point.

Drop Point Blade

tn_freemanfolder

Example of Drop Point Knife

Most of MDH’s knives are drop points. It is one of the most popular styles because it does so many things well.

A shallow, convex curve lowers the point of the knife from the unsharpened spine. The deep belly, which  takes and keeps a sharp edge, rises up to meet the point. This increases tip strength.

The lowered point provides more control over the blade. This style is at home doing fine skinning, field dressing wild game, slicing  and even jointing.

Sheepsfoot Blade

ezoutyellow

Modified Sheepsfoot Blade

Slicing is the forte of the sheepsfoot blade. It is considered to be a better slicer than a clip point (Bowie knife).

This knife got its name from its likeness to the hoof of a sheep (Go figure).  The point is rounded and the blade is fairly straight. This specialized tool seems to slice best on a flat cutting area.

In recent years, this blade has become a favorite of first responders and emergency personnel.  The beauty of this folding knife is that it can be used to slice away a seat belt, without harming the injured.

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This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

Anatomy of a Fixed-Blade Knife

Knife salesmen/women love to fling around the jargon of their trade. It immediately puts THEM in the expert class — not you. Today just might be a good day to level-the-playing-field a bit. Our sub-title could be:

More Than You May Want to Know About a Knife

We’ll examine a fixed-blade knife today.

 

knife_giant

Anatomy of a Fixed Blade Knife!

 

1The Blade – The ‘business end’ of a knife.

2Handle – How you grip a knife.  The issue of a tang comes in here but I will save most of  this discussion for later.  One of the tang’s most important jobs is to give balance to a knife.

3Point or Tip of the knife. Its main function is to pierce or create a point of entry.

4The Edge – The cutting area of a knife that extends from the point to the blade heel.

5 The Grind – Where the blade starts to get thinner. The area across the blade that starts at the thinning of the spine and ends at the blade edge.

6Spine – The top of the knife, opposite of the blade edge. It is usually thicker than the edge.

7The Fuller – An indentation on many knives that reduces the weight of the knife.  The fuller does not reduce the structural integrity of the knife, however.

8The Ricasso –  The thick part of the blade that has no edge; where the handle and blade meet.

9 The Guard – This metal barrier protects the hand from injury.

10 The Butt – The end of the knife.

11 Hole for the Lanyard – A method for keeping the knife attached to the wrist, belt, etc.

The advantage of a fixed blade is that it is strong (single weapon from point to butt of knife). It has no moving parts and is easy to make.

In the 2nd entry, I mentioned the ‘tang.’ The tang is the part of the knife not usually seen. It is covered by the wood, plastic or other material of the handle.

To me, the tang is how I determine the value of the knife. A full tang indicates that the blade metal completely fills the handle (and can usually be seen above and below the handle material – as in the photo below). The full tang is indicated below by the first red dot, on the top edge of the handle. The other dots are not significant for this discussion.

 

fulltangknife

Full Tang Knife!

 

Knives with partial tangs (the metal of the blade extending part way into the handle and held in place by rivets or pins), may also be an excellent knife.

Of the partial tangs, I feel the ‘rat tail’ tang to be the weakest (the knife blade narrows in the handle, to look like a rat tail comb).

The ‘push tang’ is the one you do not want. The tang end extends less than 1/2 the way into the handle. The tang has been pushed in and rivets used to hold it in place.

The next time the salesperson throws a little jargon your way, you can throw a little back!

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This blog is a companion to my website: GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

 

Which one is Best – a Fixed-Blade or a Folding Knife?

 

Fixed Blade for Strength!

Fixed Blade for Strength!

 

I stopped selling knives a while back. However, this has been one of the most popular articles  on this site. The photos are not clickable.

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Folding and fixed blade knives each have unique capabilities and weaknesses. Only you can decide which best fits your situation. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each.

The first consideration is: What do you want/need this knife to do? How will it be used? Once this is clear in your mind, it is easier to evaluate the knives available.

Fixed Knife: Pros and Cons

The advantages of these knives are clear: They can be made in very large sizes, their design is simple – yet they are known for their potential strength. Because the blade is all one piece, from handle to blade tip, there are no moving parts and the knife is sturdy and long-lasting. They are also easy to keep clean.

Generally speaking, a fixed blade is twice the length of a folder (folded blade knife). Most fixed blade knives are sheathed (covered), for safety. Some fixed blades now come with an interchangeable blade!

In many cities, states and countries, fixed blades are banned (with or without a sheath). In certain locales, mores dictate that fixed blades are “socially unacceptable” (Only farm workers are exempted from this ban)!

Folding Knives: Pros and Cons

Folders are more discrete, the blade folds into the handle when not in use. Most of these tools are known as “pocket knives” – indicating their mode of transport. Urbanites prefer these; the general population is unaware that ‘you’re carrying.’

Folders must be well-constructed to be as tough as fixed blades. The most vulnerable parts of any folder  are – the blade pivot (axis pin) and the lock spring. Quality tells here; this is where most folding knives fail.

The lock spring must keep the knife in an an open position, as long as you need it, and then release the blade to return into its holder. The longer bladed knives are more likely to have a problem – there’s more leverage on the axis pin, especially if using the flat side of the blade.

Thus, there’s a limit to the length of a blade. The longer the blade, the longer the handle must be to accommodate it.

 

tn_hinderer

Folding Knife = Convenience!

One other problem, rarely mentioned: Pocket knives are a bit harder to clean. Fur, wood slivers, whatever are more likely to gather inside the handle and need to be removed.

Back to Our Question

Fixed blades are long-lasting, easy to clean, tough and strong. Folding blades are convenient, discrete and versatile.

You will probably finish your shopping expedition with one of each – one for the big jobs (fixed) and another in your pocket – for 1001 little jobs each day!

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This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

The 10 Commandments of Knife Use & Maintenance**

 

Golden Rules for Knives

Golden Rules for Knives

 

This topic is serious, the way I state it is not. I hope no one is offended.

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And the Lord gave unto Abraham 10 Mighty Rules of Knives.

(First) “Thou shalt not let thy blade go dull.” A dull blade is a dangerous blade. It takes more pressure to use a dull blade, and accidents often happen when your hand slips or you lose control of the blade.

(2nd) “Thou shalt not hand thy knife to another – blade first.” If it is a folding knife, pass it on in a folded position. Hold a fixed blade by it’s spine (top, unsharpened edge) with the blade away from you, allowing the receiver to take the knife by its handle.

(3rd) “Thou shalt not use a knife’s weakest point (the tip) as a pry-bar.” Buy a small ‘chisel point rescue’ for daily use, and keep your knife intact.

(4th) “Thou shalt take thy time to sharpen thy knife blade.”  Use the sharpening system as instructed by the directions that came with it. More knife blades are damaged by poor honing than use!

(5th) “Thou shalt keep thy knife as clean as thyself.”  Most of the time, knives traspass where our hands don’t want to go – acids, oils, dirt, etc. Three things that knives come most into contact with are – salt, blood and sweat. They are corrosive and damaging to the blade.

Wash a knife in mild soap, rinse and dry with a soft cloth. Always wash blades before food preparation. To avoid contamination with bacteria, knives should be washed after working with meat, and before using it on other foods.

(6th) “Thou shalt not leave thy knife in water or exposed to heat/sunlight for long periods of time.” As water is the universal solvent, it can unglue the handle, or other parts. Excessive heat can warp the knife.

(7th)  “Thou shalt not throw thy knife – even in fun.” More knife tips are broken by careless handling than  people can imagine. If you are playing a knife throwing game, get one specifically for it – don’t take a chance on your prized knife(s).

(8th) “Thou shalt not oil thy leather sheath.” The oil discolors the leather and sometimes causes thread failure. Best practices: saddle soap for cleaning and dubbing (a water-resistant shoe wax) to protect your investment.

(9th) “Thou shalt protect thy blades during temporary storage.”  Use a light touch when adding a coat of wax to the blade. High carbon blades may need a bit more – a thin layer of petroleum jelly before storage.

(10) “Thou shalt be tender in preparing thy knives for long-term storage.” Knives and sheaths should be placed in plastic bags separately. Use a vapor-protector (desiccant – think little bags placed in shoe boxes to protect leather) in the bag.

And Abraham took these Golden Rules for Knives down to the multitudes. And all was good.

MDH,* who advises God regularly 🙂 has an 11th – Thou shalt not use metal on metal (don’t cut meat in the frying pan – use a cutting board).

This one isn’t nearly as catchy as the first 10. But ‘He who wants to be obeyed – and rarely is’ asked me to add this one.

** This posting was inspired by: Knives: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Knives for Fighting, Hunting and Survival. Pat Farey; 2003; $24.95)

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This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com