This page is for general discussion, notes on fakes, items of interest and other areas of interest to Military and Antique knives.
20th Nov 2023
A sad day when I heard yesterday that The Armourer magazine has ceased publishing. Although I only occassionally bought it , it was the only general Military History and Militaria magazine available in the UK. Though I personally think it was mistake when they combined it with Classic Arms and Militaria magazine. But I guess commercial consideration i.e. money has led to the descission to stop publishing. It is a real shame though as it gave lots of other deatils such as acution and militaria fair dates.
8th Nov 2023
It never ceases to amaze me how certain people can tell me I am wrong when the evidence is clear. A case in point, one person who I have clearly fallen out with due to his poorly researched writings claimed that my assertion that the FS knives marked with what appeared to be a broad arrow L were infact mis-stamped broad arrow T was wrong and that they are an L. Yet more recently he shows a knife that is clearly a T but then fails to correct his earlier statement. We can all get things wrong at times but when the truth is revealed should at least have the guts to correct our mistake.
Regarding my note below there have now been further instances of post war SOE style lock knives with makers marks been sold as Commando Lock knives. THEY ARE NOT. They have nothing to do with the military, they were not issued or used by the Commandos any such descriptions are total fake. Added to that I have also seen unmarked Joseph Rodgers style knife listed as Auxiliary Unit Knife. The only version issued to the Aux Unit were marked. Joseph Rodgers, if they are unmarked or hav emarks by other makers they are not Aux Unit knives. If the well known dealer wh osted that item bothered to do his reading or resh he should have known this.
Further. to my notes of the 9th Feb and the 13th April it seems some of my words are not noted by others . In the 9th Feb I noted the SOE style lock knives with makers marks be sold as SOE, now within the last few weeks we have marked examples being sold as Commando Lock knives - they are not they are simply post wark commercial knives.
Regarding potentiall inflated prices, a further example of the rare FS variation was this week sold for £3000 on the hammer, so we now have a range of prices going downward from £9000 to £4400 and now £3000. I wonder how the original buyer feels about that potential loss!
4th July 2023
Having recently watched the auction of the David Hayden Wright collection I was somewhat stunned to read on a Facebook page a diatribe from an obviously unhappy overseas bidder about the additional charges he faced. Not only that he moaned about problems with importing Ivory into his country and seemed to place most of the blame on the bidding platform he used for not making this all clear. It would be impossible for such platforms to list every possible law etc and any bidder you would have thought would make their own checks on charges etc. But to plead ignorance on the Ivory issue was just amazing. Every collector knows (or at least should do) that ivory is an emotive issue and one with lots of regulation. To then moan about it after the event really takes the prize - certainly someone who had their head buried in the sand.
But on the subject of the same auction along with another that has recently come to my attention why are auction houses not aware of the laws. One had switchblades in it which are illegal to sell in the UK, the items then had to be withdrawn, another had a piece described as a WW2 push dagger. again illegal to sell as such items need to be over 100 years old to be legally sold. Again the item was withdrawn. But they should never had been liste din the first place!
13th April 2023
Not that long ago someone paid in the order of £9000 for rare FS variation, a similar one was auctioned last week for £4400 on the hammer. In the first case we must assume there was a bidding war between at least two people but in the second case that war did not occur. So is the first person sitting on a potential loss of nearly £5000 or was the second winner just lucky that there was no real competition.
The whole danger of inflated auction prices is that they can totally skew the market and what people think things are worth.
20th February 2023
A couple of diverse issues in this blog:
Different values. I am sometimes surprised at the prices placed on some knives depending where they are for sale internationally. A piece in question was a British WW1 piece advertised in the USA at over $2500. Yet in the UK the same knife would market for in the region of £700. Rarity in one country does not mean the same in another but is such a price difference justified when one could easily import such a piece.
I have deliberately avoided looking at the website of our upset author but a friend pointed something out to me. He wrote it was pity we could not have worked together but that statement really takes a prize. Although we completely disagree on what are fakes I have supplied him with information on certain knives, identifying items where he did not know what they were, even gave him guidance on my experience on various publishing routes yet I never got not a single piece of information back. Needless to say I shall think twice about offering support in the future.
9th February 2023
Why do dealers and auction houses not do their research. I have today found two knives being offered for sale being described as SOE lock knives. Although they follow the same pattern as the single blade SOE lock knife they are clearly not SOE as they are both marked with the makers name. The original SOE knives were NOT marked.
16th Jan 2023
Have I every had a negative book review, well yes, did it annoy me well up to a point, did I loose any sleep over it - no. As an author it is part for the course and if you cannot accept that do not write at all, you just have to take it on the chin. And if you expect everyone to agree with your conclusion or statements you are living in a fools paradise.
However some are obviously made of much thinner skin. As a response to a negative review a recent author wrote what I can only describe as a diatribe on his blog that was not only petulant but darn right rude and offensive. It contained false accusations against the reviewer, errors in fact and one claim where the writer could not possibly have full knowledge of the facts.
So to paraphrase an old saying - if you can't stand the negative reviews, then get out of writing books.
10th Jan 2023
DO YOUR RESEARCH - STORIES AND KNIFE COLLECTING
I am alway mystified when people support the authenticity of a knife by relying on a story, a story that by a simple piece of research can be shown not to be possibly true.
Here are a couple of examples taken from published works the two seemingly being linked by a very similar story.
In William Windrum’s book Clandestine Edged Weapons when discussing the so called Earl of Suffolk Knife he wrote “When the Earl’s cousin Adderly Howard gave it to his niece’s husband”. Well here in lays a problem to be the Earls cousin this person would have had to have been the offspring of the Earl’s uncle. However the Earl’s uncle James Knyvett Estcourt Howard only had two daughters neither of whom were called Adderly and consequently there there is no Adderly Howard in the family.
Another more recent author when again discussing the Suffolk knife said “This unique dagger was passed down the Earl’s brother who was posted to the Home Guard.. Eventually his brother passed it down to his daughter, the Earl’s niece, Prudence Fitzalan Howard”. Besides the slight change in the story does such a person exist in the Howard family? The Earl had two brothers Cecil John, and Greville Reginald but Cecil John had no children, and Greville had only one daughter Caroline. Again no person of the supposed recipient exists in the Howard family as the Earl did not have a niece called Prudence.
These facts about the Howard family are easily researched from online resources i.e. The peerage.com.
Another area that catches people out is the dating of markings. Items of reputed WW2 vintage being marked Gieves and Hawkes when in fact Gieves did not acquire Hawkes until 1974. A fact easily confirmed from the firms website.
The authors who wrote about these items and their stories may well have believed them to be true but some simple research would have proved otherwise.
21st November 2022
THE MORAL DIMENSION!
Someone once wrote that they did not as a matter of honour point fingers at fakes in another persons collection. Well to a point I can understand that but when the items are blatant fakes and are being pushed as originals either in sales or in writings do you stand by and let this happen, is it right that such items should be allowed to continue to circulate on the market or in references. The extent of the damage that can be done by such things was all to evident in the art market where many fakes have fooled the experts and buyers for years and in many cases costing the buyer many thousands of pounds in lost money when they tried to resell what they though was valuable painting.
Although one must be 110% sure of your ground before outing an item as fake I believe there is a duty to identify such items before they do everlasting harm to both collecting and history.
19th October 2022
Further to my previous blog although I have still not seen the book I have had a number of of questions from a buyer about the book and some of its claims.
The questions based on the book are linked to some of my previous writings and have questioned my stance on the John Paisley, Bruce Hand and A &P story when the book identifies them as genuine. People can believe what they want but that still does not make the knives genuine or the stories true. All I will say is that there is a complete lack of supporting evidence anywhere to show that these existed as knife makers. My article in Knife World Magazine Feb 2015 explores this subject in depth.
There is also a complete lack of any logical explanation from the believers as to how the knives of these alleged makers are in 99.9% of all cases only found in North America. How come no UK collectors have ever come across a Paisley knife or collectors in Australia a Hand knife. It beggars belief that that we are expected to believe that they all mysteriously found their way overseas without any pieces remaining in their own country. If you link this to the fact that certain names are associated with the appearance of the knives in collectors circles the issue of their authenticity becomes even more marked.
Some other areas stand out and both show a lack of research to support the claims made, there is seemingly a total misunderstanding that because someone had knives with their name on them did not mean they made knives. The term Cutler does not necessarily mean they were a manufacturer just that they sold knives.
My correspondent tells me the book comments that:
Marshall Glasgow. ( J & I Marshall). Book states they made custom tailored uniforms. Marshall were not and never were Military tailors. This is clear from their entries in the trade directories.
Joseph Starkey, Listed as perhaps the maker of the original prototype Medford Fairbairns. Despite what we may think about the authenticity of such knives Joseph Starkey was not and never were a manufacturing cutler. Although they sold swords they never made any edged weapons.
Alcock and Pierce. Book apparently supports the position that A&P made knives due to a 1942 advert that says ‘sheath knives - as pioneered by us’. The advert does not say they made knives, indeed Keith Spencer in his major work on Australian and New Zealand cutlers clearly states that they did not make knives.
30th Sept 2022
A Strange Tale
For those of you who subscribe to KNIFE magazine you will know Bruce Voyles ‘Bruce on the Loose’ column. In his column Bruce tells of the many ups and downs of the Knife business, friends he has made and sometimes lost, dodgy dealings, questions you should or should not ask about a knife, variations in collecting themes etc. Well here is one of the strangest but true story I have yet encountered and one which is unlike anything Bruce has written about.
A collector with whom I have often and sometimes publicly disagreed on the authenticity of certain knives recently announced the publication of their first book. I put my name down for one but when it came time to pay he would not sell me one on the basis that I might trash it on some forum - his words. What however makes his stance even more odd is that when it suits his position he quotes some of my information and observations on his website. So I cannot be all bad!
Personally I have never avoided buying any knife book, even it contains just 10% of useful information or does have fakes it still has a place on the bookshelf as it forms part of the learning and knowledge process. I have also never declined a book sale on the basis I might get a bad review and cannot think of any author who would. As a writer one is always open to critique, if you cannot accept that you shouldn’t be writing or setting yourself up as a source of information.
Some poorly researched books have done untold damage to the field of collecting listing fake knives as genuine, falling for the tales of Walter Mitty characters, putting out stories about makers who just did not exist, all of which has led novice and indeed some advance collectors down the path of some wrong and expensive purchases. Such knives and associated stories continue to circulate and will likely do so for many years to come ready to fool a new batch of collectors. So any book on the subject should be open to review, critical or otherwise. Any full review, if I had the opportunity, would be my honest opinion and one based on experience, knowledge and research which is just as it should be, but I accept that other opinions may differ from mine.
However I have not seen the book so cannot review it, but I have been told it repeats the myth of knives made by the likes of Bruce Hand and John Paisley. However I would place a bet that there is probably not one single shred of new evidence to support their existence in the book. If I am wrong I will buy the author a pint.
The finished book may in overall terms be very good but the author in pre-judging what any review may say has a very strange way of showing confidence in his own writings! Though as they say in Yorkshire there’s nowt so queer as folk.
Akin to the above on a recent Antique Roadshow one of their experts valued a Wilkinson double logo nickel finish 2nd Pattern at £5000! The item was brought in by a man whose father was in SOE. He had his fathers original ISRB (cover name for SOE) pass and his note book in which recorded the price he paid for it from Wilkinsons. Because of the SOE link the expert somehow managed to give it provenance to E.A.Sykes, when there was none, and thus gave it the ridiculous valuation. If there was direct provenance to Sykes the valuation may have been more realistic but there wasn’t any.
Is the market for military knives over heated? That may seem strange question from someone who is a collector and thus you would assume any rise in prices is to my advantage. But I am as aware as many of the pitfalls of collecting when things suddenly go out of fashion or whose values are impacted on by other events such as changes to legislation.
One collector I know said to me when paying what I thought were high prices for some ordinary 3rd Pattern FS knives he did so because it was an investment. That may be true to some extent but just look at what happened to antique bowie prices some years ago they crashed and only a few are now picking up to levels they achieved before. The antique market is full of objects that have fallen out favour and thus prices dropped the classic example are brown furniture and silver some of the later now only achieving scrap value. I cannot predict if and when this might happen to military knives, but as I said to the collector buy because you like the item, any financial gain is a bonus.
There has been discussion on some forums regarding the application of the Offensive Weapons Act 2019 to things like WW1 knuckle knives. The 2019 Act does NOT overturn the 1988 Act antique defence and items that are over 100 years old can still be bought and sold. We have this in writing from the Home Office.
A number of people including some auction houses are saying you cannot send knives in the post - this is untrue and not what the law says.
What you must do is have a system in place to check the buyers age and a system that verifies this when item is delivered. In this respect Royal Mail offer an age verification service. Your parcel must also be marked to show it contains a bladed article.
On the Home Office website if you search Offensive Weapons there is a page:
Guns, knives, swords and other offensive weapons: UK border control. This page initially did not mention the fact of the 100 years rule, after I complained it has now been corrected. I also have complained about the wording that implied all weapons were banned from import, which is not the case. The Home Office have agreed to correct this.