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Thread: Lets have a look at this one!!

  1. #1
    Super Moderator Dutchy357's Avatar
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    Question Lets have a look at this one!!

    Hi Guys

    This was listed recently on an internet auction site.


    BIG ANTIQUE HARRISON BROS HOWSON STAG SAILORS RIGGING ROPE KNIFE CIVIL WAR SPIKE


    DESCRIPTION

    NUMBER OF KNIVES : 1
    TANG STAMPS : HARRISON BROTHERS & HOWSON SHEFFIELD. SEE PICS.
    CLOSED LENGTH : 4 3/4 INCHES. 8 1/4 INCHES OVERALL WITH THE MAIN BLADE OPEN.
    PATTERN : UNIQUE HUGE TWO BLADE BRITISH WHALING, WHALER'S, BOATING, SAILING, YACHTING NAVAL NAVY SAILORS BOSUN RIGGING ROPE CLASP JACK KNIFE WITH TOP MOUNT MARLIN SPIKE. SEE PICS.
    CONDITION : VERY GOOD. SEE PICS.
    DAMAGE : WEAR, SCRATCHES AND PATINA ON THE BLADE. SMALL NICK AT THE VERY TIP. NORMAL WEAR ON THE HANDLES. NEEDS CLEANING. SEE PICS.
    AGE : CIVIL WAR ERA. I HAVE SEEN THIS KNIFE LISTED IN CIVIL WAR BOOKS. MY KNIFE BOOK SAYS THIS TYPE OF CONSTUCTION WAS PRIMARILY USED PRE 1860.
    COUNTRY OF ORIGIN : ENGLAND.
    HANDLES : BEAUTIFUL GENUINE STAG WITH INTEGRAL STEEL BOLSTERS, STEEL PINS AND INTEGRAL STEEL LINERS. SEE PICS.
    BLADE WEAR : HAS WEAR. SEE PICS.
    BLADE ETCH AND SHIELD : NO SHIELD. NO ETCH. SEE PICS.
    BLADE SNAP : TIGHT WITH PLAY AND GOOD SOLID SNAP. SPIKE SNAPS HARD.
    ADDITIONAL INFO : THIS IS PART OF MY PERSONAL COLLECTION THAT I WILL BE REDUCING OVER THE NEXT SEVERAL MONTHS. GREAT KNIFE FOR YOUR PERSONAL USE OR TO ADD TO YOUR COLLECTION.




    Now I would like to know:

    Is the listing accurate? If not why not. If so why so.

    Whats good about the listing?

    Whats bad about the listing?

    Who would bid on this knife?


    Have fun.

    Regards Dutchy
    Collector

    "Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws."
    Plato (427-347 BC)

    "In politics stupidity is not a handicap."
    Napoleon Bonaparte

    dutchy357@gmail.com

  2. #2
    Fun Police KnifeKnut's Avatar
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    Dutchy, mate...
    I'm no expert, but I think this one is a trick question ;-). The thing sure looks the part, and though not my cup of tea, I reckon she's solid!
    So:
    "Is the listing accurate? If not why not. If so why so." - seems the seller went to great lengths to accurately and honestly discribe the item. And a good clear photo (though only one
    "Whats bad about the listing?" - more photos would've been good
    "Who would bid on this knife?" - a collector of period folders or sailor's knives
    How did I do?
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  3. #3
    More Posts Than the Rabbit Proof Fence
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    I'm completely ignorant of this topic, but:
    * He says "see tang stamps" - the tang stamps are hidden.
    * I find it impossible to believe this knife is 150 years old. Looks more like 40.
    * I think sheath knives would be more typical of the era.

    I wouldn't trust the listing.

  4. #4
    Moderator Stewart Townsend's Avatar
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    I spoke to Dutchie about this knife when I was at his place so I will not say anything.
    Stewart Townsend
    Vice President
    Australian Knifemakers Guild

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    The swinging lanyard loop looks very 1940s or 50s, i know clasp knives existed at the time but i thought marlin spikes were still big individual pieces kept on deck.
    Is stag something suitable for a sailors knife? Does it take saltwater well?

  6. #6
    Forum Supporter Antonio_Luiz's Avatar
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    I very much doubt that it's Civil War. Stainless was in use from the early 20th but a lot of knives until the 60's were made with carbon steel because people found it easier to sharpen. Having a sharp blade to cleanly baton thru rope is more important than salt corrosion - users of these knives would not be adverse to a bit of TLC - no different to many chefs who are returning to carbon steel blades for the kitchen and for the same reasons

    I suspect it's from between the 2 WWs or as Ripley says post WW2. My only concern is the non-locking marlin spike - considerable force is needed to pry apart rope strands and undo knots so you don't want it closing on you.
    Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want

  7. #7
    Super Moderator Dutchy357's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Well Done!!

    Hi Guys

    Well, I am really impressed at the answers I have got from this question. It shows you guys are really thinking.

    I will need to answer this in three parts:
    What the knife is.
    Where I believe the listing is faulty.
    Answering the excellent points raised.

    For a start this is a lovely example of the knife.

    What the knife is!
    The knife is a British Admiralty Pattern 301 (AP301) knife made of course for the British Navy. The AP301 knife was designed in about 1910 and was in service at least as early as 1915. It was replaced from about 1938 with the Royal Navy (RN) pattern. Late in its production life (at least the early 1930's) the stag grips were replaced with alloy scales similar to the scales on the RN pattern clasp knife.

    Some of these knives also saw service with some British Army units.

    It is reasonable to assume that this pattern knife was also issued to Australian sailors during WW1, however I am looking for proof of this.

    Where I believe the listing is faulty!
    The description is very detailed and very accurately describes the physical characteristics of the knife. However, it describes the knife as Civil War. A very difficult feat for something that was not designed until 45 years after the end of the American Civil War. Also a very strange oversight for a dealer who has over 30,000 sales/purchases to his name.

    I have questioned this seller a couple of times in relation to provenance to the claims in his listings and have only ever got very vague replies from him.

    Answering the excellent points raised!
    There was more than one photograph with the listing. In fact there were 9. I only showed a single photo because I thought that was enough to identify the knife by. My error; I will include more in future.





    The Tang stamp. The tang on a fixed blade knife is the part that the scales are attached to, and therefore is not visible. On a folding knife the tang starts at the rear part of the edge where the Kick (the little knobby protrusion which controls the amount by which the blade closes and stops the blade touching the spring) starts and extends to the hole where the pivot pin goes. As such a good portion of the tang is exposed and this is where most makers stamp their knives.



    (Courtesy: All About Pocket Knives Web Site)


    As I said at the beginning, it is not in bad condition for a knife that is somewhere between 70-100 years old and was used in the service of its country.

    Is stag suitable for a sailors knife? It was probably the best they had at the time. As I mentioned they were moving towards alloy scales by the 1930's so they were looking for better materials.

    Marline Spikes have been a feature on some of the British Military Clasp knives from the Boer War on.

    The non locking marline spike is not a problem. No military clasp knife that I am aware of has a locking marline spike. The technique is to simply turn the clasp knife over so that you are levering the spike in to the open position where it comes firmly against the spring.

    In 1910, the specifications called for: Best cast steel hand forged sheep foot blade. Cast steel marline spike, properly tempered.
    Stainless steel was not used in Military Clasp knives until WW2.

    In closing, one thing I have noticed with many US sellers is that just about any clip point or even large knife is a bowie and many old knives are Civil War. This just highlights the significance of the warning Caveat Emptor (buyer beware) and why you need to study what you are collecting. Bernard Levine, an eminent US authority on knives has always given the advice "Buy the knife, Not the story!"

    This auction realised about 2-3 times what I thought the knife was worth. I leave the final word to a US colleague of mine with whom I frequently discuss military knives: "shame on someone who spends almost $300 on a pocket knife based on an eBay dealer's "expert" opinion"

    Well done guys! All in all some very good questions were raised.

    I acknowledge Ron Flooks excellent book "British and Commonwealth Military Knives" as my main reference.

    Regards Dutchy
    Last edited by Dutchy357; 29-11-2011 at 12:14. Reason: typo
    Collector

    "Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws."
    Plato (427-347 BC)

    "In politics stupidity is not a handicap."
    Napoleon Bonaparte

    dutchy357@gmail.com

  8. #8
    Forum Supporter Antonio_Luiz's Avatar
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    OK - I rated this thread as requested

    Military knives are not my main area of interest, but nonetheless I find this sort of discussion educational. A few years ago I bought a sterling silver hallmarked cake knife that was advertised as 19th century. When I received the knife and examined the hallmarks I disputed the age (hallmark = early 20th). The seller was adamant that she was the 'expert' but was willing for the knife to be returned for refund. As the price was low I couldn't be bothered returning it, but no matter how many eBay sales the seller has, mistakes can be made. It is the deliberately misleading that I have trouble with.
    Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want

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    So my guess on age was only 100% out. This is a nice round starting point. I really enjoy these posts, dutchy.

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    Yeah that was interesting and informative, when do we play again!

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