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In the past few months I've gotten interested in the traditional knives I grew up with.  When I picture my childhood pocket knife I can see  a medium stockman like I was holding it now.  I had different ones and don't remember what patterns or brand but they were all similar.  Now thanks to the ease of serching due to the internet I see there are several companies who make the same patterns.  Stockman, congress, peanut, copperhead, etc.  I am a little curious about how this came to be.  Who started it?  Just a brief history lesson will do.  :)  I have gotten the feeling in the past few days since spending time here some of you  know the story well.  :)

If this type of question should be in a different forum please move it if you want.  I'm still getting aquainted with this place.

Jack

Tags: congress, jack, knife, patterns, peanut, stockman, trapper

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   Jack,

   WOW great question, yet what a can of worms :-)

   All the different patterns have different histories of origin.  For example (follow link) Barlow Knife History, Buck company (and a little about the buck 110).  Most every time though questions about patterns can be answered through using any/all of books by either Bernard Levine or by John E. Goins.  As well there is a virtual ton of information by Huston Price  and many others using any of "The Standard Knife Collector's Guide" (my personal most used volume is the Fifth Edition by Roy Ritchie and Ron Stewart).

 

   To answer your question briefly...there is no short answer, no one place to get it all...not even the internet.  Unfortunately throughout time we have let fact and fiction mingle, breed and produce many of the stories and even legends that we are all so familiar with (its the proverbial "grapevine" that we as humans use so often). 

 

   You should read four to six articles pertaining to the history of any given pattern, from those article you can generally get a pretty good idea of common fact vs. fictional parts...again though even that method has flaws.  For example the Bowie pattern has a rich, wild and adventurous history...unfortunately though most of it that we know and embrace is not based on historic fact but most typically from what we saw in the movie "The Iron Mistress" with Alan Ladd (a classic movie btw).  When the legend of the Bowie knife began it started with a knife fight on a Mississippi river sand bar.  Newspapers reported that Jim Bowie had gotten into a knife fight with a gentleman (I forget his name), and killed him with "A large butcher knife"  from that small beginning, grew the stories we now know.

 

   Many, many (ok almost all) things relating to the history of patterns can be summed up by saying that the invented pattern filled a specific need.  Knives are tools, not unlike todays flat head screwdriver or a hammer.  Certain characteristics of a blade make it better suited for a specific cutting task.  For example the big rounded tip of a skinning knife vs. a coping blade or even a sheepsfoot blade.  Yes the sheepsfoot or coping blade would still skin a deer, rabbit or anything else you were aiming to skin, but the long sweeping curve, that particular arc of the blade on a "skinner" makes it a far better and more efficient blade choice.  As for handle/overall shape think about comfort while preforming the task, is it curved or straight?  Ever try to stab an object with a straight handled knife vs. a curved handle knife? 

   As you can see this journey is just beginning.  The answers are out there Jack, just have to take them 1 pattern at a time and do as much research as you can to sort truth from fiction.

I was afraid I'd  get an answer like this.  You were supposed to say "Company A made a medium stockman.  It was so successful that people asked for a little one and a big one.  Then other companies copied it as a result of it's versatile  usability.  Same story for other models.

See how easy my answer was?  :)

Seriously, I may look into this in pieces as time goes on but not as a project to start.  I can imagine how incomplete some of the old records are.  Then again we get surprised at what we do find when we dig.  Of course I wouldn't be digging.  I'd be reading what the "diggers" wrote.

This will teach me to think before I ask a question about every little thought I have on the forum. :)  Thanks for your reply and the sources for me to check.  I'll look into it a little and see if it keeps my interest.  At least that will keep me away from the pages that sell knives. lol

Jack



National Knife Museum said:

   Jack,

   WOW great question, yet what a can of worms :-)

   All the different patterns have different histories of origin.  For example (follow link) Barlow Knife History, Buck company (and a little about the buck 110).  Most every time though questions about patterns can be answered through using any/all of books by either Bernard Levine or by John E. Goins.  As well there is a virtual ton of information by Huston Price  and many others using any of "The Standard Knife Collector's Guide" (my personal most used volume is the Fifth Edition by Roy Ritchie and Ron Stewart).

 

   To answer your question briefly...there is no short answer, no one place to get it all...not even the internet.  Unfortunately throughout time we have let fact and fiction mingle, breed and produce many of the stories and even legends that we are all so familiar with (its the proverbial "grapevine" that we as humans use so often). 

 

   You should read four to six articles pertaining to the history of any given pattern, from those article you can generally get a pretty good idea of common fact vs. fictional parts...again though even that method has flaws.  For example the Bowie pattern has a rich, wild and adventurous history...unfortunately though most of it that we know and embrace is not based on historic fact but most typically from what we saw in the movie "The Iron Mistress" with Alan Ladd (a classic movie btw).  When the legend of the Bowie knife began it started with a knife fight on a Mississippi river sand bar.  Newspapers reported that Jim Bowie had gotten into a knife fight with a gentleman (I forget his name), and killed him with "A large butcher knife"  from that small beginning, grew the stories we now know.

 

   Many, many (ok almost all) things relating to the history of patterns can be summed up by saying that the invented pattern filled a specific need.  Knives are tools, not unlike todays flat head screwdriver or a hammer.  Certain characteristics of a blade make it better suited for a specific cutting task.  For example the big rounded tip of a skinning knife vs. a coping blade or even a sheepsfoot blade.  Yes the sheepsfoot or coping blade would still skin a deer, rabbit or anything else you were aiming to skin, but the long sweeping curve, that particular arc of the blade on a "skinner" makes it a far better and more efficient blade choice.  As for handle/overall shape think about comfort while preforming the task, is it curved or straight?  Ever try to stab an object with a straight handled knife vs. a curved handle knife? 

   As you can see this journey is just beginning.  The answers are out there Jack, just have to take them 1 pattern at a time and do as much research as you can to sort truth from fiction.

Well here is some more reading... Jack, kind of along the lines you mentioned: http://www.iknifecollector.com/profiles/blogs/cattle-knife-stock-knife

Jack Haskins, Jr. said:

I was afraid I'd  get an answer like this.  You were supposed to say "Company A made a medium stockman.  It was so successful that people asked for a little one and a big one.  Then other companies copied it as a result of it's versatile  usability.  Same story for other models.


   Jack,

   Wish it were that simple...to a point it is.  Of course popular demand gave us varied sizes of each pattern but it had to start with a base model...it is the story of that base model you must search out. 

 

    That is a great link Steve (I use Levines books alot for reference), thanks for sharing. :-)

TY NKM! Here is another very short discussion on the origins of just a couple that I thought were interesting. Had to dig back into the archives for this one! : http://www.iknifecollector.com/group/earlyamericancutleryhistory/fo...

I think the person that has done the best to make SOME sense of the history of knife patterns is Barnard Levine. I'd be lost without his book. He has done some great research over the years.

Here's a link to his site - http://www.knife-expert.com/

Jack, don't be sorry for opening this can of worms. It's fascinating!! However I'd suggest starting with your favorite pattern. That makes it more fun and interesting. It also teaches you how to do research. You find a little nugget of info that spikes your curiosity and you chase down that rabbit trail. Then you chase another and another. Before long you have your history finished to the extent you're looking for. Then you choose another pattern and so on. Once you get the patterns done you'll want to do blade configurations, blade variations, handle styles and materials and on and on and on. Research is fascinating so don't be afraid of it. Embrace it! You'll build your own library of facts so you can always go back and find info and answer questions. Good luck!!

I agree, this can be an amazing discussion.  I love to hear about this kind of history

Well I can tell you where the Stockman originated. It began as a the cattle knife and its origins go back to the cattle boom in the United States shortly after the Civil War.  Cattlemen need a reliable folding knife that they could use for cattle work.

George Wostenholm (IXL)  of Sheffield, England came up with a large frame cigar pattern folder with a spear master and secondary sheepfoot blade at the top.  He also offered the same pattern in three blades adding  a pen, punch, or spay blade at the opposite end.   A third variation offered the Spear and sheepfoot on the top along with a punch and spay (sometimes a pen blade) on the top.  As the knives were made to order, there was some variety.  The most common however were two blade cattleknives and three blade version with a spay or punch added. So if you like Stockmans or cattle knives, thank George Wostenholm

The Patents for different knives show up from time to time, with info on the Inventor!! Surf the net...let us know what You find!

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