Confusing Names Of Knives Make Confusion For All Of Us


So I really like older pocketknives such as:

  • Sailor's knife
  • Pruner and Cotton knife
  • Hawkbill knife

They tended to confuse me early, when I was even "dumber" than I am now.  They confused me because when they are closed they look so much alike.  The blades stick so far above the handle on all of them.  Now I can mostly tell them apart.

When they are open, the blades confused me because I didn't understand the differences in blade styles.  Now I mostly do.

With the help of a lot of research books that have pictures (!!!) I have increased my knowledge a bit.

Anyway, I think part of why I like these is the same reason I like Barlows.

They are large, working man's knives.  Sailors, farmers, hunters, soldiers. 

Some more of these types of knives will be in the next post.


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Tags: cotton, hawkbill, knives, pruner, sailors

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In Memoriam
Comment by Robert Burris on May 6, 2012 at 17:38

Thanks Lee, I'll bet the knife is English. One of the things I love about this place is the knife education I get. Please keep it up, theres room for even the advanded collector to learn more about our hobby.

Comment by Lee Saunders on May 6, 2012 at 17:30

I was looking thru some knives today to find a specific knife and found a knife I bought a few months ago that fits in this discussion.

Why?  Because the guy that sold it to me called it a "Navy Pruner".

Now, I may be easily bamboozled but I tend to think that sailor's in our good navy are probably not doing enough pruning to need a special knife made for them.

The knife was a pruner and I understand getting confused, but oOh my...

Comment by Lee Saunders on May 6, 2012 at 16:01

Ah!!  I confused you more?

Well, this knife was sold to me as a "Sailors" Knife" or a "Rope Knife" or a "Jack Knife" or a "Navy Knife".

As if that was not confusing enough he said it is Japanese.

It may be, but I have never seena Japnese knife this old looking like this one does.

And then there is the unique crown emblem on the tang.  Doesn't look Japanese.  Again I could be wrong.

So I am not sure, but I reule out Hawkbill easily as soon as I opened the knife.  And I ruled out Navy Knife, Sailors Knife etc  The Hawkbbill hads a beak shape and many Pruners doe too.  Some pruners are shaped more like this one.  The Navy or Sailors knife is squared off at the end.

It has a similar shape as the spey or pruning blade.  But I think this one is larger, I think it is the Cotton Sampler.  But it is just a guess because the blade is "similar", it's not right on.

That exhausts my knowledge trying to figure out the puzzle this knife presents.

Now if someone can help me with this crown emblem??

Comment by Jan Carter on May 6, 2012 at 15:39

So which one is this?  Doesnt appear to be a hawkbill or a pruner.  Too pointed to be a cotton sampler.  I am guessing sailor?

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