Antique And Vintage Switchblades, Automatic & Pocket Knives And Books

Mike Chapman - public domain

Mike Chapman – public domain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This post is about antique & vintage knives and books about the knife collecting hobby.

How can you not appreciate beautiful antique switchblades?  Pocket knives too.

I have never really been a passionte collector since I was a kid.  I do have a collection of LPs and even CDs from the 50s thru about 2005, and I have coins that I collected, but really the collections were put together when I was young.  And knives from when I was a kid.

My mother collected everything.  And I mean everything.

She passed away in November 2011 and I have gone thru her various collections trying to decide what to do with them.  My sister is like “sell everything”.

I see the history in things and I helped mom collect a lot of things.

Going thru her collections has got me thinking….. maybe I need to collect something.  Have a hobby.

So–the things I like and would like to collect include antique guns, cars, motorcycles–mostly choppers but even race bikes and drag bikes, Rat Rods & Rat Bikes and…

But I decided that I am going to start with knives.

Antique switchblades and automatics.  From the 50s and earlier.  European and American, although maybe some Japanese.  Pocket knives too.

Do you have or collect antique knives?  Or do you know someone who does??  Do you want to sell any???

Leave me a comment here or Tweet me at the Twitter thing @zenDR

I stole (borrowed) this list from a site I have enjoyed:

I aspire to collect knives with markings like these

From Italy:  Maniago, Frosolone, Campobasso, Guido Fiani, Flli Di Iorio, Pisciitelli, Coricama, Mauser, Ethan 1953, Panamex, Black Beauty, Raimondo, Folgore, E. Miltenberg Inc, Cutlery Angeli, Venenzia, Latama, etc.

From Germany:  Germany, Solingen, Korn’s Patent, HK&S, Leather Trend, Edward Zinn, Bontgen & Sabins, Bonsa, D.B.G.M., D.R.G.M., FA Koch, Springer, Springer König, Herder, Henckels, Hubertus, Halali, Weltersbach, Weidmannsheil, Voss Cut Co., R. C. Kruschke, Northwestern, etc.

From America:  Korn’s Patent, Criterion Quality, Press Button Knife Company, Case XX, Ka-Bar, Schrade, Presto, etc.

From France:  Guerre Fils, Paris, France, Cartiller de Luc, Pradel, Eclair, Manufrance, etc.

From England:  Lingard & Peacroft Sheffield, Bunting, Wragg, Sheffield, Urwin & Rogers

I bought a couple of blades over the February 26-27 weekend and will post pics as soon as I receive them.

I bid on one sweet sterling silver pocket knife (yes, I know.  Not a switchblade, but boy was it nice) but got way outbid.  The bids were in the $80 range when I jumped in and eventually the knife went for over $300.  Too rich for me.

I found my Grandpa’s old “Scout” pocket knife.  These things were as common as could be back then (1930 and 40s).  Every man carried a knife in his pocket.  Cut string and boxes, fishing and hunting, camping, carving, cutting an apple…etc.  Now I don’t think you find a knife in too many pockets.  Or in purses or briefcases.

My mom always carried a Victronix in her purse and bought quite a few for me.  I have my old Scout too plus a fixed blade scouting knife from the 60s.  It’s a Case XX (see above Switchblade “wanted” list).

Grandpa’s Scout is an Imperial knife from Providence Rhode Island.  There were a lot of different companies that made Scouts.  I don’t know that any are really worth all that much, but I have seen some advertised as “extremely rare Scout(s)” with big price tags.

According to the bible Goins’ Encyclopedia of Cutlery Markings, Grandpa’s Imperial Scout was made in Providence sometime between 1935 and 1945 because the marking is on the master blade only.  This book has everything.  If you are interested in knives or if you have a knife you want to learn about buy the book or go to your local library and check it out.

One was from a company named Iroquois, so if you have that one let me know.  I would be interested in buying it!

Another folder.  This from Rite Edge.  It looks like a switchblade and when it came in the mail that’s what I thought it was.  I pushed and pulled everything that looked or felt like a button or a slide.  Then I pulled the blade up and uttered a loud “duh…”

Big knife, 6″ closed and some 11.5″ open.  Heavy in the hand,, it feels solid.  I need to take a better picture.

Here is another inexpensive knife.  This time an Italian Milano switchblade.  Stainless steel blades with Italian Milano marked on the tang of the blade.  It is in a black mesh bag and a box.

This is my little folder from Iroquois.

It is a 2 blade folder, 3″ closed and 4.5″ open.  The tang of the large blade is marked Iroquois Made in the U.S.A.  The Goins’ book shows it was made between 1920 and 1940.

The little Iroquois is N.O.S., new old stock.  Meaning it landed in a storeroom or box or shop corner when still new until it was found fecently.  It has never been used but has some surface rust on the blades.  I spent $25 for this little beauty.  The pics don’t do it justice.

March 26th:

Some of my purchases since I started this post:

You can tell it’s the real thing by the engraving on the end, or metal ‘bolster’.  The R with the arrow-line thru it is their old logo and insignia at the time Russell made this knife.  Could have been later 1800s thru maybe 1920.  The other thing to look at if you want to identify real knives vs fakes is the engraving on the end of the knife blade, which is called the “tang”.

There is a book called Goins’ Encyclopedia of Cutlery Markings.  It’s the bible when it comes to trying to determine markings on our knife blade, tang or bolster.  Most knife makers (and all of the good ones) marked their knives.  Some extensively and many very uniquely and artistically!

That’s it for today.  You can leave questions or comments here if you want to.  Or contact me at Twitter.  @zenDR  I’m not an expert but I will help and I can hook you up with folks who are experts.

July 23rd:

Thanks for all the Twitter follows and Blog watchers and comments/suggestions.  There are so many good folks out there.

Here are some of the switchblades I have picked up since this post began.

I also collect Barlows.  Traditional Barlows are the knife style that Tom Sawyer carried and dreamed of when the boys saw one in a store windows.  Because the book was so popular a knife maker, Russell, came up with an idea and put an advertisement poster in store windows all over America inviting boys to join a Whittlers Club and to buy a Russell Barlow.  They sold gazillions of Barlows and made them immensely popular.

I also collect oca-Cola advertisement knives and Military knives.  Right now my oldest is a Civil War Navy knife , a rope cutter and my newest is an army knife from Vietnam.  I really enjoy knives, I buy way too masny and need to focus on one type.  Or two mebbe??

Coke knives:

Civil War Navy knife.  This blade is also from Russell:

lf you are in Califonia you can attend the auctions the State holds are buy knives (and other goodies!) confiscated at our airpirts from flying passengers.  It is surprising how many folks forget that they are carrying an illegal knife and then forget to pick them up.

The State has to do something with them so they auction them off, usually in lots of 50-150 but some might be auctioned individually.

Find out about the auctions by subscribing to their newsletter here.

Not in California?  I bet your State, or local airport also has auctions for confiscated items.  Google it and find out.



  1. I have the same knife as the third one when I did research on it it told me it was a 1940 rostfrei German switchblade it says rostfrei on the blade which in German it means stainless steal is it worth anything

    • Depending on the shape of the knife, whether you have the cellophane cover and box, smoothness of the action etc, perhaps $225 to the right buyer maybe a little more.

  2. bill pogue says:

    i have a rather large and unusual switchblade collection. valued at $50-100k. if you are interested in a collection of this quality, please contact me. i will not break up the high-end units. maybe the low-end if they all go at once. bill

    • I am interested. For something that significant I would probably need to get a friend to go in with me.

      If you could give me some idea of what your top end (number of knives, types of knives and quality) and the same for the low end. What is the total number of knives. You must have been collecting for quite awhile.

      I’m looking for multiple Civil War Veterans knives or One Armed man knives if you have those, especially multiple knives.

      Photos would help. Have you had the collection valued and by who? Anything in writing?

      Thanks Lee

      My collection is probably in the 10k range but I have a larger antique folding knife collection.

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