Mystery knives

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by not2sharp, Sep 12, 2020.

  1. not2sharp

    not2sharp Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 1999
    With Halloween swiftly approaching, I though that it would be fun to look at those knives that we seldom talk about. Show me knives that we will forever know little or nothing about. They will remain forever in mystery because they are unmarked, or if marked, were made in such small quantities that little or no information survives.

    This is a particularly interesting area, because it forces us to evaluate the knife at face value. There is no maker’s name, or fad steel type To help us along, nor any articles or YouTube reviews. It is just you and the unknown knife-like object on the table.

    There are plenty of knives like this out there. Some were made by servicemen, their families, or simply hobby enthusiast who worked out of a small home shop. Some have been made by very talented machinist, who simply had no interest in producing knives commercially and only made a few for their close friends. while others are just junk made by someone who had a little time to kill. The only thing they share in common is that we know nothing about them. They will forever remain a mystery.

    So show us your pictures and tell us what it was about the knife that first attracted your attention.

    Last edited: Sep 12, 2020
    MayHemAndHaw and bucksway like this.
  2. flatblackcapo

    flatblackcapo Part time maker, very very part time Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 25, 2012
    Here's one that falls into that " junk made by someone that had a little time to kill " .
  3. KenHash


    Sep 11, 2014
    Looks a bit like a Chinese Guan Dao blade.
  4. not2sharp

    not2sharp Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 1999
    Amature knives.JPG

    It is interesting that many of the knives I come across have the clip treatment as knife Flatblackcapo posted. Perhaps too many of them were watching Hollywood Simbad movies.

    Here are a couple of different ones. The top knife is very solid and heavy and has thick brass scales.

    GB940Rookie and Smiling like this.
  5. not2sharp

    not2sharp Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 1999
    mystery knives.jpg

    And some have been made with some skill.

    GB940Rookie, scdub and Smiling like this.
  6. not2sharp

    not2sharp Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 1999
    theater knives.jpg

    Here are a few more with that same clip treatment.

    bucksway, Smiling and oldmanwilly like this.
  7. not2sharp

    not2sharp Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 1999

    Here is an example with an interesting back story.

    It is marked:
    J. L. Lane

    Mr.Lane was a high school teacher in Nebraska. He taught a Machine Shop class for many years and early on he made this knife as an example of what they were capable of producing in the shop. The knife is said to have been on display at the school for many years, until Mr. Lane's retirement; and was then eventually sold by his estate.

    I have no way of verifying the story. But, it is a good story and a good knife.

  8. not2sharp

    not2sharp Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 1999
    Unmarked Cal Style bowie.jpg

    Here is a nicely done California San Fran style bowie, which is also completely unmarked.


    I doubt that I am the only one buying these knives, so go ahead and share some of your favorites with us.
    Steve Mizic, Lee D, scdub and 2 others like this.
  9. PiercedBill

    PiercedBill Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 15, 2014
    Steve Mizic likes this.
  10. not2sharp

    not2sharp Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 1999
  11. not2sharp

    not2sharp Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 1999
    L.B. Atkins 1994.jpg

    Here is another mystery knife. The owner's name appears on the knife, but not the maker's.

    There are generally 5 types of knives that end up in this category for me:
    1) Amateur made knives, including theater made knives
    2) Professionally made knives, made by machinist who are not dedicated to knife making
    3) Knife makers who failed before they could gather any recognition
    4) Knives made by professional knife makers who simply forgot/neglected to apply their stamp
    5) Ethnographic knives from areas which do not mark the knives in ways that are legible to us.

    arrowhd, Lee D and oldmanwilly like this.
  12. afishhunter

    afishhunter Basic Member Basic Member

    Oct 21, 2014
    I gave it away maybe 10 years ago, but I had a vintage 1950's/1960's medium stockman with only a "MADE IN USA" tang stamp.
    Not that it really mattered then, or matters now, but I was unable to determine which of the dozen or so potential manufacturers was responsible for it.
    However, I strongly suspect it was one of the Schrade companies. With Imperial and Camillus being the top suspects.
  13. eveled

    eveled Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 11, 2016
    Great knife great story. If you could figure out which school and what years he taught.
    it would be interesting to try to track down some of his students and ask them.

    It also could have been one of the schools that made knives for the troops at the beginning of ww2. Which would also be a sub group of your #1) group Amateur knives.

    The California San Fran Bowie in post 8 is simply beautiful, reminds me a lot of an early Randall. Interesting sheath it has.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2020
    cbach8tw likes this.
  14. not2sharp

    not2sharp Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 1999
    Made in the USA was a Sear’s brand. It was used on knives made by the usual suspects.

  15. JPD1998

    JPD1998 Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 18, 2004
    I bought this knife 20 years ago at a local knife shop in Rhinebeck NY.
    It's about the size of a paring knife and came with a hand sewn leather sheath.
    The shop owner told me it was made by a Culinary Institute student and forged from a motorcycle chain.

    W. Anderson, arrowhd, Lee D and 7 others like this.
  16. Tomasicek


    Sep 13, 2020
  17. afishhunter

    afishhunter Basic Member Basic Member

    Oct 21, 2014
    I thought the no name "Made in USA" were sold at Western Auto, Firestone, Goodyear, Goodrich, feed lots, and places like Farm and Fleet.
    Sears had Craftsman, and Ted Williams branded items.
    I forget who Montgomery Wards and W.T. Grant had endorsing their sporting goods.
  18. jfk1110

    jfk1110 Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 9, 2013
    It's a funky folder! That's really the name. There were a few people/makers who produced them. Best bet is to enlarge the makers mark on it and search it!! Good luck and cool knife! Enjoy it!!

  19. Tomasicek


    Sep 13, 2020
    Thanks I will try
  20. Omnius


    Apr 17, 2020
    I think this is my most mysterious and forgotten knife that googling didn't help much with identifying. I recently found it while doing some basement cleaning.
    It is one of the first knives I had as a small kid. Other than the blade it has cap lifter, small fork, spike, and some kind of hook. I'm trying to fix it and it worked for the blade so far, but after many years in the basement they are dirty or rusted so much they can't be opened without pliers.
    Other than this bird logo it has no stamp, name, steel type, engraving or anything like that anywhere.
    It is 30+ years old and probably soviet or chinese production, back then here it couldn't have been anything western, at least for cheap price and easily available. I remember many kids had folders similiar to this and other cheap knives even OTFs, street vendors had cardboard boxes full of them and they cost around the same as 2-3 2L sodas.


    ZhangHua, Lee D, Kabancheck and 2 others like this.

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