So far sales of my book have been refreshing. One never knows how a book on as narrow a topic as Clandestine Knives will be received. I have already shipped copies to New Zealand, Scotland, the Netherlands and France. Thank you all for your support and especially those who paid the big bucks for overseas postage. The next volume, on X-daggers and Shanghai daggers, is progresssing rapidly, since now I know the process for getting a book in print. It will be more reading and close to 200 pages long, maybe more. There will still be plenty of photos of all those fabulouus "fake" bayonet conversions in my collection and in other collections. I have written about what I see as two possible paths to the final design of the First Pattern Wilkinson. Yes there will be outcies from some people, that's Okay I accept that there are strong opinions one way or another. The only people who know the 100% actual proof are all dead. We are left to sort it out from historical truths and some lesser, but intriguing, tales. It has been a challenge sorting it all out. I think those of you who own Metford-Fairbairns, like this beautiful example, will be happy.
The good news is the books are here. A friend and I went to Rochester, NY to pick them up. Cost was $35 in gas and $40 for lunch at a great little Japanese restaurant. So I saved over $225 in shipping costs. More good news is the copies look great. The bad news is the oveseas postage for the book is going to be $30. That is a real kickk in the butt! So please take that into account if you decide to order a copy. Sales within the USA are still $55 including shipping.
Happy days, the proof copy arrived on monday. All I can say is it is super! The printing company did a splendid job keeping the colors bright and accurate. The text is clear and easy to read. I never counted the number of photos but it is over 160. Here are some of the rarest knives you will ever see, many full size (or larger) and in color. I have attached photos of the front and back cover of the proof copy. By the way this single copy cost me $75 plus shipping! I expect the balance of the books to be printed in a week to 10 days. Then I have to drive to Rochester, NY to pick them up. They quoted me $313 for shipping to my house!
I have a prospective list of 40+ buyers already. If you are seriously interested please email me with your mailing address. This first printing is going to be $55 shipped in the USA. Outside of the country, I will have to go to the post office and get a quote on shipping and charge $50 plus the actual shipping costs. I will be able to accept USPS money orders or paypal. Please make the paypal to "friends and family" so I don't get hit with the fee. Thanks to all of you who have patiently waited and supported my work.
Ladies and gentlemen I have placed the order for 50 copies of my book on clandestine knives. Depending on how well it sells will determine whether I have any more printed. Each one of this first run will be signed and numbered by me, the author. It is soft cover, full color, hundreds of photos, 167 pages long. Costs have risen about 10% just since I first got a quote. Inflation and taxes and other misc. fees also kept piling up. About a dozen copies are already reserved for friends and family. If you are seriously interested they will be avail in about 2 weeks, or less. I am waiting right now for a proof copy. Email me at email@example.com to get on the list. I am going to have to charge $55 including shipping in the US in order to make any profit at all. I appreciate your support.
Boy it must be the end times. My computer is running slower than constipated dog poop on a frigid Maine winter's day. I have rebooted twice and finally it has come to life. This makes it scary when you go to file something like a book you have been working on for years and it says the "program is not responding!" WHAT!! It finally filed and saved but it sure makes me nervous. I've saved it in several places including removable drives.
On another topic I had to add in an additional page to the covert knives book and that was causing all sorts of gastric distress. While not every maker of modern knives is listed in this book, those left out are in the next volume on full-size daggers. While I was waiting for my book to "save" I took a few more photos for the added page. That would seem a simple task, the problem is: "Where the heck did I store that knife?" Here is a photo of the overflow from one box while in the process of playing seek and find.
I finally did find the knife I wanted, in the very bottom of course. Its amazing how much time can be consumed with simple tasks. Taking photos is always a pain. Seems like there is always too much light, shadows, not enough light, shadows, glare off steel, reflections of me in the blade, etc. Wow, how do proffessionals do this? For those who wonder, The book is coming, honestly.
I am also back working on the book I wrote five years ago on X-Daggers, Shanghai Daggers, First Patterns etc. The wait has been terrible but it has allowed me to collect additional data and knives to make it even better. It is very controversial; with quotes from many sources including veterans, credible authors, Wm. Cassidy, curators of military museums, Arms specialists, knife makers, etc. A lot of never before in print ground work went into this volume! It will change the way some people look at the history and evolution of the FS knife.
Okay you sharp eyed sleuths. Which dagger in the photo is a "fake" made by Paul MacDonald of Glasgow? No Ron you cannot play because you will say they are all fakes. LOL. Pick one knife from the top or bottom row. There is only one. Have fun. You may want to blow the image up to see them better.
Among these daggers are some from: England, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, California, Belgium, & Scotland. Several of them are in replacement sheaths. Sorry the photo is a little fuzzy. I was very happy to be able to get one of Paul's X-daggers conversions. His work is tops.
The question often arises about the suitability and durability of the F~S as a combat knife. Were the WW-II F~S a fragile and undependable knife? Yes and No. At one time I believed the FS was the ultimate fighting knife. I have since outgrown that view, and setting aside the romance, looked at them a bit more realistically.
A man who is a skilled knife fighter, knife maker, and X-Special Forces soldier once corrected me. He said “there is no such thing as a knife fight, there is only a killing.” Another person once wisely opined that whatever knife you have in your hand can be, perhaps must be, a fighting knife. If I were forced to make a choice I would now crown the Bowie as the best format for a fighting knife. I would name the F~S as the most effective "killing" knife. An entire book could be written to explain why I say this but let it suffice to say that a skilled knifer will understand the difference in techniques used in defence and offense as compared to those specially honed for killing.
To return to the original question of breakage, the narrowness of the F~S blade that makes it such an effective killing knife is also its source of weakness. The F~S was not alone in its reputation for failing at a critical moment. The USMC stiletto also had a lot of problems with blades breaking. The blades are only about 1/2 the thickness of the Wilkinson FS. In addition, the handles of the USMC Stiletto were fragile. The USMC had a superior handle shape with flattened oval profile (Just what W. E. Fairbairn wanted) but the handle material was brittle and only got worse with age. Today it is hard to find one that has not disintegrated. We have one USMC Stiletto in our collection in pretty good condition and another one with both sides of the guard broken, shortened to almost nothing, and a broken and re-tipped blade.
Perhaps some of the best made WW-II daggers were the OSS stiletto, but some of the early ones had soft blades. The later ones have a brinnell mark in the blade just below the guard to verify the hardness of the blades.
Any dagger is inherently a poor cutting knife so it is very important to be able to slide the blade between the ribs rather than get it stuck cross-wise. Therefore orientation of the knife in the user’s hand was important. We hear stories of Commandos who either jammed their thumbnails on the guard, or failed to make a lethal strike, because in the dark of night they oriented their knives incorrectly. The thumb plays a major role in orienting the blade so it lies flat-wise in the hand. One option is my favorite guard i requested on my Parkinson knives that have a thumb relief ground into both sides of the guard similar to the guards on some of the X-daggers, or the thumbprint idea used in the famous “Black Devil’s” V-42 Stiletto. V-42s had fragile tips. We own one that had the blade broken trying to pry open a door. The blade was replaced with a British one.
Other than the First Pattern F~S my all-time favorite stiletto is the Case V-42. This knife had a thick, needle-tipped, hollow-ground blade. It also had a wide leather-backed guard and a thumb pad ground into the ricasso. None of the reproduction V-42 have come close to matching the excellence of the originals. Apparently no one wants to grind that narrow of a blade with four hollow grinds. It is an awesome knife, the likes of which we'll probably never see produced again. How is it that with all of the technology available today no one will make an accurate reproduction? The closest replica was one made by Case Knife Co. for the American Historical Society around the 1980s.
Getting back to the F~S issue, most of the broken ones I have seen were broken near the tip, rather than at the tang. Despite the tang’s scrawny dimensions and apparent weakness all of the broken knives in my collection are broken at the tip. Now, this may be because any that broke at the tang were either thrown away, or were returned for replacement of the blade.
Urban Legend has it that some of the knives with broken blades were sent back to the manufacturer to be refurbished with a new blade. This was done on a regular exchange basis. Many later post-war production knives have also suffered bent or broken tips, mostly from abuse. Throwing the knives, or using them to pry with, was, and still is, a sure recipe for disaster. I have seen some war-time knives bent at the guard, again probably from some bored soldier trying to stick it into a tree.
Just when you think you’ve seen it all something new shows up. I jumped at the chance to buy a somewhat run-down Tom Beasley knife from a dealer at a very good price. In the photos he posted there were two dark stains across the blade about ¼ inch below the guard. When it arrived I tried to use some acetone and swabs to clean off the “stain.” Imagine my dismay and surprise to find out the stain was the residue left by silver soldering the blade back together! The black stains were created by the hardened flux. Whomever made the repair was a skilled metal worker. How had this postwar knife suffered a catastrophic failure such as this? I didn’t have a clue. The only thing I can imagine is someone accidentally stepping on the blade at just the wrong spot. The knife was found in an old Vets tool box. I can imagine his anguish at having such a valuable knife broken and, even with the skillful repair, the constant reminder the marks would always leave him of some momentary error that caused the irreversible damage.
This story serves to remind us of the importance of practicing responsible stewardship when in the possession of valuable historical artifacts. We are never the real owners, of these objects, only the temporary keepers of such treasures. It behooves us to treat them well and pass them along to the next generation in as good condition as possible.
I have come to the conclusion (again) that the only way to get my books printed is to go the self-publishing route. I am in contact with a printer about 90 miles from here. It looks like to make any profit at all softbound books will be approximately $45 shipped CONUS. (As a friend advised me, the final price will be based on any changes in my costs. With the unpredictable costs of inflation I will keep the price as affordable as possible.)
This Book on clandestine knives will be 165 pages in full color and 8.5 x 11 inches in size. It is heavily loaded with photos, some full page and a lot of close-ups. Black and white would be a lot cheaper but who would want to buy it? I don't think a book with this many original Clandestine knives could ever be put together again based on the size of my collection.
When I started to complain to my daughter that I couldn't seem to find any new daggers for sale, she said; "that's because you bought them all." Not quite true, but I have collected quite a few. The last few pages will illustrate some of the current day daggers which I felt were worthy of inclusion. Some items are probably WW-I. A couple are Vietnam era. Some are definitely custom one of a kind while others are more production based. It is a wonderful assortment of weapons used in covert operations. So I am going to try printing a few copies before too much longer and see how well they sell. For several days I have concentrated on editing and re-taking photos that were not good enough. This book is a real feast for the eyes.
Here are a few sample pages. I know what I look for in a book on knives, and that is photos of knives! In this book there are photos of thumb daggers, an original OSS crossbow bolt, garrote, hat pins, sleeve daggers, shivs etc. I promise you will not be disappointed.
Hopefully by the end of Summer they will be available for sale in limited quantities. Since I retired from teaching, and inflation came roaring to life, money is something we are learning to live without.
I can hardly believe that another Memorial Day has come and gone. It was a quiet one here in western NY. The TV news reports are all about the rising number of "Mass Shootings" and the rise of white Supremacy. Very little remembrance really for the lives lost in wars. The last mass shooter was Hispanic but what the heck he was probably a white supremacist at heart. I pray for healing for the folks in Texas.
So now we are being assaulted (again) from all sides about gun control. It is a battle that never ends. That dud in the White House says they should ban all 9mm handguns. To them everything over a .22 short is a high-powered caliber. How many times do we have to fight the battle for freedom from oppression by our own government? They say you should not be able to buy a rifle until you are 21 years old. But you can be drafted when you are 18. The same old double standard that has been going on for decades. I remember coming back from Vietnam and not being able to buy a beer in a bar. When I went to Vietnam to kill commies I was 19 years old. I could drink all the beer I wanted over there. I carried a 1911 handgun and a full-auto capable M-16 and had an AK-47, over there. How many times have our wars been started by, or expanded by, men who were never in the military, men who never served, men who bought their way out or who used college exemptions that the rest of us deplorables could not afford. Don't talk to me about white privilege, I know all about it and I'm a good old white boy. They use race and political party, gender and social position to divide us, but they don't really care about any of us. Our current administration just delivered 80 billion dollars of high tech weaponry to our enemy including thousands of full auto firearms. No accountability for that?
It galls me to see people like that "Paying tribute" to our fallen heroes. Does anyone really believe they care? It's all a photo-op, it's all about "optics" and poll numbers for them. Hundreds of thousands of men fought and died for the very freedoms the draft-dodging, marijuana smoking politicians want to stripfrom us. It's all about the old dude in the WH whose IQ is lower than his poll numbers, who greets the returning dead from Afghanistan and can't stop checking his watch, it's past his nap time. They use our survivor guilt, our compassion to create an image of caring that they themselves cannot legitimately pull off. It's all about hypocrisy to the max. We who served remember those who fell. We who came home whole remember those brothers and sisters who came home in bags or with limbs missing, minds fogged with PTSD, or worse. It makes me cringe to see creepy joe placing the wreath where brave men lie. We, the often-forgotten, honor them. I was 19 in these photos.
The loose hilt on the A&P dagger was driving me nuts. I also worried about the crack spreading. I decided to find or make a ferule for the pommel where it was clear one had been at one time. I tried all of my empty brass rifle cases but none of them were quite large enough. I dug through my garage full of junk and 40 years of collecting odds and ends. I was just about to give up when I found a bag of brass grommets used for tents and awnings. Sure enough, it was just the right inside diameter. Using a Dremel cut-off wheel I sliced off a piece the height I needed. I whipped up some epoxy and coated the inside of the tube and drove it on using a small tack hammer and piece of wooden doweling. It enhances the look of the hilt as well as strengthening it. Now when I pick it up the hilt does not want to spin around, which was extremely irritating, and it feels like a real fighting knife. I am sure the original ferule fell off when the hilt shrank.
Shrinkage is always a problem with wooden grips and depending on the type of wood and the climate it can be quite severe. Almost all of my Commando knives with wooden handles exhibit cracks near either, or both, ends. Today's knifemakers have the luxury of using stabilized woods, which help prevent, but does not always eliminate this problem. I have some very expensive fighting knives that have hilts made from Stabilized burl woods which have still suffered some shrinkage and resultant cracking.
You can find out more about me on the "Stories" pages. My hobbies have included training in Japanese martial arts, including Kenjutsu, many forms of knife fighting, long range rifles and tactical firearms. I have written several self published books on muzzle-loading firearms, knife-fighting and textbooks on gas engines and compressors. I am working diligently on my 400+ page F-S book.