Books and magazines are an essential tool for any collectors, though some are better than others,  and the books and publications given below all form part of my library, though there are few more to add.    I also have several ring binders full of various articles collected over the year, but there are too many to mention individually. 

In providing this listing I have to admit to copying the idea of someone else but my listing although covering some similar books also includes other subject matter.  I am also using a star system for scoring the books.   It is however worth adding that even where I have given book a low score every book has its place in a reference library, there are things to learn even from books that have fakes or are poorly researched. 

*        Poor, has fake knives and incorrect information

**       Has place on the bookshelf, but there are better sources of information. 

***      OK publication with some useful information

****     Recommended 

*****   Highly recommended, a must for any collector


KNIFE - see   Published monthly.  Successor to Knife World . Although not always having an article on military or antique knives this in my opinion is one of the best all round knife magazines available.    It and Knife World have  been an invaluable resource over the years in respect of military and antique knives. *****

The Armourer.  Published in the UK monthly.    This is a general militaria and military history magazine.    It encompasses the old Classic Arms and Militaria magazine.    Personally I have found it a poor substitute for that magazine, many articles being very broad in their treatment of the subject. ***.  Unfortuntely this magazine has ceased publication.

Journal of The Antique Bowie Knife Association.    You need to be a member of the ABKA to get this but if you have s serious interest in Bowie Knives it is a must.  Published 2 to 4 times year with articles on members finds etc.  *****


Bowie and Antique Knives:

The Bowie Knife by Norm Flayderman.    An encyclopaedic study of the Bowie Knife.  Extensively illustrated with some amazing knives with an in depth study of the bowie and its history.  Unfortunately its out of print. *****

The Antique Bowie Knife Book by Moss, Voyles and Adams. Fully illustrated again with some amazing knives but no real supporting text on the history of the Bowie Knife.    Highly recommended but second hand copies are not cheap.  *****

A Sure Defence The Bowie Knife in America by  Worthen and  Zalesky.  Published by the Historic Arkansas Museum as a catalogue of the Bowie Exhibition held by the Museum.   Again some amazing bowies.  I have only marked this down because the grey text does not make for an easy read. ****

Knifemakers of Old San Francisco by Bernard Levine.   Good study of the knives made in this city.   Would have been a great book if done in colour.   ****

Classic Bowie Knives by Robert Abels.  One of the early books on bowies from the collection of Robert Abels.  Black and white images.  Although now overtaken by more modern bowie publications done in colour still remains a useful reference book.  ***

The Heritage of English Knives by David Hayden Wright.    David passed away before the book was published thus when the manuscript was sent for publication it was poorly edited.  However has some really nice antique knives.   ***

Sheffield Exhibition Knives by Claussen, Watts and McMickle.   Some of the best Sheffield knives shown in a book.  *****

Joseph Rodgers & Sons Exhibition Knives - The Sameul Setian Collection by Abel Domenech.   A book showing the very best of Joseph Rodgers knives.   *****

Art of the Switchblade by Neal Punchard and Dan Fuller.   Antique switchblades (Flick knives) from various countries with some amazing examples of early and rare English pieces. *****

California’s Best - Old West Art and Antiques by Brad and Brian Whitherell.  This is not a knife book but has a section of California/San Francisco knives.  Illustrates some of the best known examples of these knives.   *****  

I*XL means I Excel by William R Williamson.    Small booklet covering the history and knives of George Wostenholm.  Images are black and white but really useful reference.  ****

Confederate Bowie Knives by Melton, Phillips and Sexton.    Superb book covering bowies used by the Confederates during the American Civil War. All knives shown in colour, the essential guide to these knives.  *****

The Knife Behind the Curtain by Dale Larson.    The story of the Edwin Forrest Boiwe Knife and its link to James Bowie.   A massive tome and the story of one knife!    A real in depth study with a mass of research into the bowie knife that may or may not have been a knife owned by James Bowie.   The book is not an easy read but, and some of it is a bit repetitive, you will learn more about the bowie story than in many other books.  I think the repetition lets the book down a little. ****   

James Bowie and the Sandbar Fight - Books I and II by James L Baston Jr.    Part 1 looks at the story of the Sandbar fight which created the legend of the bowie knife, covers all the witness statements etc.   Part 2 looks at the Edwin Forest knife, so covers  some of the ground covered by the previous book.   Part 1 of the  book is illustrated with knives made by the author rather than knives of the period and there are some layout issues with the text.    ***

Military Knives:

Fighting Knives by Frederick J Stephens.   A general study of the subject with some very good sections on ROBBINS, Clandestine Items and the Ibberson Gravity Knife.   ****

A Primer of Military Knives (Parts 1 and 2) by Gordon Hughes and Barry Jenkins.   Part 1 was I believe the first ever book in the UK to cover the subject.  Was an invaluable resource in my early days of collecting.   Although a bit dated now both Parts are still a useful reference.   ***

A Primer of German Military Knives of the Two Words Wars by Gordon Hughes.   Useful reference, although other books (see below) have now expanded the number of known variants.  ***

German Combat Knives 1914-1945 by Christian Mery.   Excellent study of the subject with some really nice period images of knives in wear.  *****

Knives of War by Hughes, Jenkins and Buerlein.  This draws into one volume the contents of the Primers of Military Knives with a small amount of additional material.   Useful if you do not have the Primers.  ****

Allied Military Fighting Knives by Robert Buerlein.    Some interesting F-S knives many of which came from a very good collection in the UK and which was dispersed many years ago.  ***

Military Knives - A Reference Book.   A compendium of articles from Knife World by authors such as  Silvey, Trzaska.   Good source of information if you do not have access to the original articles. ***

Knives of the United States Military in World War 2 by Mike Silvey.     Excellent photographic study of mainly US knives but includes knives from the UK and Australia.   *****

The Best of US Military Knives by M.H.Cole ( edited by Mike Silvey)   A compilation of Coles 4 books which Mike has edited into one volume.  ****

The Military Knife and Bayonet by Homer Brett.   Knives and bayonets from around the world, many examples of which are rarely seen by collectors.  *****

Commando Dagger by Leroy Thompson.  General study of the subject, though some knives are incorrectly described.  ***

Fairbairn-Sykes Commando Dagger by Leroy Thompson  (Osprey Series book).   A general study of the FS knife and its impact and use.   However some of the knives illustrated are fakes and the myth of Bruce Hand and John Paisley is also repeated. *** 

The Earliest Commando Knives, and  Clandestine Edged Weapons by Dr William Windrum.    Based on the articles published in Knife World, illustrations are small and not great quality but the subject matter is poorly researched with many fakes and incorrect information.  *    

OSS Weapons by Dr John Brunner.     The definitive book on OSS Weapons based on the actual records to be found in the US National Archives.  A excellent study of the subject with details of the Fair Sword, Smatchet etc along with other weapons and equipment. *****

Clandestine Warfare by Melton, Ladd and Mason.    A general study of the subject, not a great deal in terms of knives and what there is, is not always correct. **

French Military Knives and Bayonets by Christian Mery.  The sub title indicate that this covers items from 1940 onwards but it actually has a chapter on World War 1.  Some excellent images of knives in wear along with detail of French F-S knives both commercial and issue.  The translation into English is a little confusing in places.   ****

The Complete Book of US Military Pocket Knives. by Mike Silvey.    As to be expected with Mike’s books some excellent photography and knives including some rare variants. *****

Knives of the United States Military in Vietnam by Mike Silvey.  As always well illustrated with excellent specimens of the knives used in Vietnam.   *****

SOG Knives by Mike Silvey.   Some repetition from the above book but another great book from Mike.   Only marked down due to some info already being in the earlier book. ****

Wilkinsons and the FS Fighting Knife (2nd Edition) by Robert Wilkinson-Latham.    I am eternally grateful to Robert for all the help he gave me, his book paving the way for a lot of my research.  As the title says this is about Wilkinsons and the FS knife so the contents are limited, and we now know from further research that some information in it is incorrect.    But the book should be on any FS collectors bookshelf   ****

The First Commando Knives by Professor Kelly Yeaton.     The story of the Shanghai knives illustrating some of the early knives made in Shanghai and its links with Fairbairn.   Book is semi spoilt by reliance on testimony of the likes of Bill Pilkington whose military career has been subsequently exposed as a fraud.  ***

US and Allied Military Knives World War 2 by Bill Walters.  A massive tome running to some 676  pages.    All the knives, most being mint or near mint examples, are illustrated in colour.  Each has  small descriptive text.  I was privileged to be associated with this book.  Its not cheap but a superb book. *****

US and Allied Military Knives M3’s and M4’s by Bill Walters.   Like the previous book all knives in fully colour and mint examples.  It shows all the known variants of these two knives.    If you are into M3 fighting knives its the book for you. *****

The Fairbairn Sykes Fighting Knife by Wolfgang Peter-Michel.   Has coverage if Fairbairn and Sykes along with introduction to the  three basic patterns of FS.  Chapters on handle variations and sheaths but little in the way of new information.  Published by Schiffer and thus of high quality but expensive for what it is.  ****

Collector’s Guide to the Fairbairn Sykes Fighting Knife by Alan Locken.   Now years out of print but a good basic introduction to FS knives.   Some nice drawings . ***

Clandestine Knives of World War 2 by David Wm Decker.   (Note I do not own this book but have been lent a copy).   Well produced in terms of the colour photograph  but one could summarise this book by saying it is in many respects just a. colour rehash of Windrum's work.    It unfortunately is full of fakes, unsupported statements and a lack of research. The author seems to have accepted every story he has been told, but a good story is not provenance.    Repeats the same old myths about knives by A&P, Bruce Hand  etc.  Gave it one star due to the photos.*

Military Clasp Knives by Kevin Coleman.    Printed in a limited edition, hardback A4 format.     Covers  knives of Australia, Britain, Canada and India from the second Boer War to the present.   A generally good effort at what is really a mamoth subject area, and thus there are few omissions some understandable others not with knives missing that are actually well documented in other books.   Despite these minor criticisms the only book on the subject, so recommended.   ****

Reference Books on Makers:

Tweedale’s Directory of Sheffield Cutlery Manufacturers 2nd Edition.    The definitive guide to the Sheffield Cutlery industry an absolutely essential reference source.  *****

Goin’s Encyclopaedia of Cutlery Markings.  Listing of markings to be found on Bowies, butcher knives, hunting knives, pocket knives, and straight razors.  Useful reference but information on some marks is restricted to just the mark with no details of the city, country etc.    ***

German Knife and Sword Makers by J.Anthony Carter edited by John Walters.     Anthony Carter passed away before he could complete what would have been Part 2 of his earlier book.  But John Walters has done a great job in editing and completing the project.   The definitive guide to German makers.  *****

Australian and New Zealand Cutlers and Cutlery 1788 - 1988 by Keith and Joan Spencer.      Very well researched, and sadly Keith passed away just as the book was ready for publication.   The definitive guide to Australian and NZ makers and it puts to bed the myth that Alcock and Pierce made knives.   *****​


At Close Quarters by David Armstrong.    The story of Col.  Hector Grant Taylor.    Although not knife related Grant Taylor is sometimes associated with Fairbairn and Sykes and their shooting methods.  The story is really well researched and told but one of its major strengths is the debunking of the Bill Pilkington story, that of a man who claimed to have worked with Fairbairn and Sykes, served in SOE etc.   Also a man who fooled many to the point where he is quoted in several books. *****

The Legend of W.E.Fairbairn, Gentleman and Warrior, The Shanghai years by Peter Robins with Nicholas Tyler, edited by Paul Child. The story of Fairbairn’s life in Shanghai.    An interesting read but has the irritating issue of the author claiming copyright to many of the images which are clearly not his.   ***

No Queensbury Rules.  Fairbairn and Sykes Fathers of Modern Close Combat 1940 -1942.   by Paul Child and Nicholas Tyler.    Effectively the follow-on from the above book, however it is let down by many factors, some due I believe to production problems.   Some sections are superfluous to the main story and there are errors in respect of certain facts.  The title is also misleading (1940 – 1942) when it covers a lot of earlier stuff especially about Sykes life.  There are fake knives shown as original and the book also relies on some discredited sources i.e. Bill PIlkington and Peter Mason.  I hope the planned Part 3 of the story is better. **

The World’s First SWAT Team, W.E.Fairbairn and the Shanghai Municipal Police Reserve Unit by Leroy Thompson.     I some respects a similar story to that told in The Legend of W.E.Fairbairn,  Repeats the myth of Sykes being a WW1 sniper and also has some fake Shanghai knives.    But good general read about Shanghai during Fairbairn’s days. ***

Official Assassin by Peter Mason.    Supposedly Mason's biography as an SAS soldier and secret agent.    Not specifically knife related but he includes some of his so called agents knives (including Bruce Hand and  John Paisley) and personalities such as W.E. Fairbairn, E. A.Sykes and Grant Taylor.   The book is completely unreliable, you can drive a horse and cart through many of the so called facts (e.g.wrong dates), yet many believe in its contents.  It has however been discredited by Nigel West.   There has also been claims that Mason's book was banned by the UK  Government, this is complete rubbish, it was not banned.    The book is not even really worth a single star *.  

Officially Deniable by Captain Peter Mason and Zoe.      I borrowed this book from a friend and glad I did not spend my money on a copy.   Again although not knife related it has few images of knives and is a sort of follow on from his previous book.    The book is however total garbage and from a knife perspective 99% of those shown are fake.   As above not really even worth a single star or spending any money on.

Agent Zoe by Captain Peter Mason and Zoe.   Supposedly the story of Preudence Mason's life as an agent called Zoe.   Like the previous books its  pure garbage,   has some knife stuff but again they are fakes.   Not worthy of any star rating.