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Queen Button Lock Knives: Review and Variations

Dan Lago & Frederick Fisher

March 2015

Queen Button Locks are single blade knives that open manually with a nail nick and normal backspring pressure, but have a spring loaded pin that engages an opening in the base of the blade, locking it open. The small button on the bolster at the base of the blade has to be pushed to unlock and close the blade. The Queen Historical Documents site includes a report for all the cataloged versions of the two patterns, mid-size (#410 B) and large (44 B) http://www.queencutlery.com/uploads/Button_Locks_Report_6-26-2014.pdf. As Steve Pieffer mentioned in an earlier post, the 410B is built off the regular #41 frame, “Copperhead” and the larger 44B is built off the traditional “Large Folding Hunter, #44 frame. All cataloged versions were offered only in Queen Steel with Chipped Bark Delrin , a relief Knife Q shield and nickel silver bolsters They did not have half stops. They can be viewed in Historical Documents Advertising material: http://www.queencutlery.com/1996-98.php )This design is shown in all four catalog pages we have for the Button Lock series, covering seven years

1993-1995 “Buttonlock Hunter”

1996-1997 “Buttonlock Hunter”

1998 “Buttonlock Hunter”

1999 “Buttonlock Fillet”

Production History

Our Catalog listing is missing 1985 and 1986, so it is possible these knives were offered before 1987, but 1987 to 2000 are the only years the knife was shown in catalog or price list. They were not offered in the 1984 price list, so the knives had a substantial production of 13-15 years with very few changes – even the very stable Chipped Bark series and the Rawhide Series had changes in patterns and handle materials compared to the Button Locks.

Variations:

One of us (FF) was advised to buy the new version Button Locks when they appeared by Mrs. Cecil Clark, Newport, KY (Cecil Clark Knives ,( http://www.clarkknives.com/Queen_bymfg_231-3-1.html) as early as 1982. It seem that the earliest versions included a black staminawood handle and distinctive slanted nickel silver bolsters ( See Figure 1). The larger version showed a blade etch with #5170. Our version is an example of abusive sharpening, but some nicer versions with sheath are sometimes seen for sale. The smaller Copperhead version does not show any blade etch and is hardly ever seen for sale. (See Figure 2 for both versions). These knives were not cataloged to our knowledge (unless in 1985-1986). The success of the Chipped Bark line might have led to the adoption of the less expensive Delrin handle and catalogging these knives up through 2000..

. Though not cataloged, there are examples of a 410B version done in brown staminawood with nickel silver bolsters and an incised Q knife shield in the period 1993-1994 ( See figure 3)

These knives are tang stamp dated to the same period when the more common Chipped Bark version knife was still cataloged. These knives are occasionally seen for sale and often show signs of hard use and sharpening. They have sold for less than $30 in our experience. These might have been a Special Factory Order and no large 44Bs in this style have been identified to date.

Review

Button locks remain an interesting part of Queen's history. These were one of the innovations that proved successful in the market and lasted near 15 years in production, until Queen shifted toward the current emphasis on smaller editions of different knives and changing handle materials. Button Lock knives would have been less expensive to make and sell compared to the other locking knives Queen offered during this time (Both Rawhides and Hawk Series), but they did lock and used the same Queen Steel, so they could have competed on price as everyday carry knives. Most of them offered for sale now do show signs of hard use.

Like a number of locking knives in the 1980s they developed a reputation for not wanting to close up securely on opening. While the factory staff at the time reported getting a number of these back for service, there was usually nothing mechanically wrong with them. The solution was the pocket lint, and dried material from daily use ( apple, orange juice, fingernail pieces,plain dirt – use your imagination ) had to be occasionally cleaned out. A lesson most knife users actually have to come to grips with. If kept reasonably clean, these knives gave reasonable service – the reason they are not easy to find today – in our opinion most of them have been “used-up.”.

If any of you have more to add to this story, especially in the early history of this series, or other Button Lock variations, please add it to this beginning. Thank you!

Tags: Button, Cutlery, Knives, Lock, Queen

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Replies to This Discussion

Here is "new in the box" button lock i bought this week. The plastic the knife was wrapped in has "button lock" printed on it. The blade says it is 1992. I have a small one and a slant bolster on the way, also "new in box"
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Here is pic of knife, i thought both pics were in first post. This is the big 44B
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Jon,

That is one pristine beauty!  Cannot wait to see them side by side! 

Two more showed up today in the mail. Both are perfect unsharpened knives. I like em!

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WOW and WOW!  You have fallen into the push button rose garden!!!

Just found an old piece of copy for a Queen Cutlery ad, shows in 1994, the brown staminawood buttonlocks, with flat bolsters were a special factory order by Smoky Mountain Knife Works (SMKW).  They have not appeared in Queen Catalogs (those were almost all "Chipped bark delrin") but these more recent versions have been easier to find.

Dan  

Nice Dan!  Now I need to keep my eyes open !

Here's a picture of mine....mint through-out with perfect lock-up.  Don Neiman

This is a nice version and one of the most frequently seen, despite being offered for only a few years  --Yours is in beautiful condition Thanks for sharing.  The little 410 in this early series is a hard one to find.

i wish thay were steal here

Well, I think most of them are -- But the price has gone up.  The thing I find most interesting it that the two versions most common in this discussion were available only two years each - 85-=86 for the black slanted bolster, and 93-94 for the brown flat bolster.  The chip Bark delrin versions were offered for many more years but are very hard to find -  The big 44B was only for a few years, and yet that is seen much more than the 410B the copperhead version -  I'd live to find one of those little guys.  LOOK, LOOK. KEEP LOOKING. maybe nobody else will know what it is -- they have not been on this site.

elbin bunnell sr said:

i wish thay were steal here

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