I bought two knives from a dealer in Wisconsin. He is reputable and I have bought from him before. I expect the knives to show up in maybe five days. The tracking show them arriving in Rochester, NY. They sit there for a day are scanned four times and then I am shocked to find they have travelled to Long Island, NY. This is 350 miles east, far beyond where I live. I assume someone didn't load them in the right truck but surely they would be arriving soon as tracking showed they had left the Long Island Post Office. I could not have bbeen more wrong. Imagine my surprise and displeasure to find thy had just landed in Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston is over 800 miles south of me. The package is scanned 4 times before leaving for Rochester, NY. Well now we're getting somewhere. SIX DAYS LATE THE TRCKING SAYS IT IS OUT FOR DELIVERY. The mailman drops my mail but no package. I nearly attack him wanting to know where the hell my $800+ package is. He says it was too heavy so I left it on the truck. I'll drop it off in 40 minutes on my way back through. over an hour and a half later he does return with my "too heavy" package weighing in at 1 1/2 pounds. When I ask the dealer/seller about this he says oh that is not unusual. I've had packages show up 35 days late!! What the heck is going on? And we are supposed to trust our votes for president of the US to these buffoons?
Well I got an email from the publisher agreeing to make changes to the contract that are more amenable. Looks like we might have a deal and I am happy about that. Book will probably be ready sometime in the beginning of 2021! This is the one that will have all of the images of my Clandestine knives collectiona nd more than are shown on this website. As things develop i will keep you posted. Fingers crossed. The publisher said that it should be a "splendid book.'
Well, the publisher has approved my book, but. I just got a sample contract from them and it is not good. As I read it, (and confirmed by two other people) my royalties would be 7.5 to 10% max. Now I am not a greedy man but holy crap! I have spent literally years collecting information, researching and buying knives for 7.5%? Ebooks return even less money.
I am wide open to publishing suggestions, again. If you have had a good (or bad) experience with a publisher contact me. The book is 160 pages long 8 x 11, 40,000 words, about 300 full color photos in high resolution, with drawings and notes.
Since my last post I think the world has descended even further into the jaws of hell. The United States is divided as never before, probably not since the 1860s and the war over States Rights VS Federal power. BUT I don't want to talk about this or the damned Corona virus. I am sick of hearing excuses for destroying our economy and freedoms under the guise of a virus. So something positive is the best medicine i can think of.
I am in solid contact with a major publisher who is seriously interested in publishing my book on Clandestine Knives. I just got a contract to review. This is about 6 months after I had started communications and then talks went dead while the publisher was readjusting to the pandemic too. But it looks very promising, if I agree to the contract. I have yet to read it all the way through. I wanted to share this information with you though so you knew I was still actively searching for a publisher to get this material in print. My other two volumes will be my next focus. The volume on the early years is about 75% but I have to rewrite the Shanghai section since coming into contact with more of the knives including my own purchase. That story in itself is worthy of a movie! It has all the twists and turns of a dime store detective novel.
No, you are not experiencing double vision. That's what I first thought, but there are slight differences. The workmanship and detail are incredible. They are priceless links in the Commando knife story but for various reason they are not well suited for a combat role. I believe that Fairbairn was fully aware of their shortcomings as a fighting knife and had the temerity to rethink what changes were needed to best meet the commando's needs. In my other manuscript on the early years I go into detail on this process change and the missing links between the SMP daggers and the First Pattern daggers.
I apologize for the watermark but i know some people cannot resist copying my stuff and using it in their book so it ruins it for everyone else who just wants a copy for themselves.
Since establishing this website I have answered thousands of questions. Now I have a question and I am going to ask all of you to see if you can find an answer. I am now the owner of an original Shanghai SMP dagger. Several of them had the motto "Sic Transit Gloria Mundi" inlaid into the blades. NOW I know it means thus pass the glories of the world. I also have found out it was sometimes used during Papal coronations.
What I am looking for is any sort of link between it and the officers stationed in Shanghai, China. For example was it something of a fraternal order, or was it just a "neat"saying? I think there was more to it because it would not have been easy to inlet it into the bayonet blades. I want to see if anything can be found, to include in my book. If one of you finds an answer I'll credit you in the book. So, all of you Googlers get your googlefu working and see what you can find.
The view out of the front of an LCT as it drops its precious load of men at Omaha Beach on D-Day. For many young men this was their last view of life. This Memorial Day please remember those who have served, fought and died for the freedoms we so precariously hold onto right now.
It seems like every so often I have someone compelled to email me to "straighten me out" about some error in my thinking. Happened again about a week ago. I was excited to see I had an email from a friend and fellow collector. It came from this website contact page. As I opened it and started to read I was really disappointed. Obviously the man did not know who he was addressing, that we had communicated for years, and that I had bought some pretty expensive knives from him. The beauty and the curse of such communications is the anonymity it provides. You can be blunt, rude, chastising, just as easy as you can be friendly. I would rate this recent email as blunt. If you have read anything I have written you know my dislike of experts. You also know I have stated that every time I think I know the answer to a question on F-S knives another anomaly comes out of the woodwork. Here is the ricasso of a knife purchased from a seller in Australia.
His email to me started out like many others: "Since you seem to be an expert", or "you ought to know better", or how about...."I cannot believe you really think these knives are legitimate", etc, etc. Then follows: "I hate to be the one to tell you that your (Pick anyone of my bayonet conversions) is a fake but someone has to tell you the difference between reality and your fantasy world". I suppose I should feel honored that such friendly advice is offered so freely. It is so rewarding to have someone advise me that the $2,500 knife he is talking about is a fake. Of course this news is always followed by their validation of: "I have been collecting these knives for 30 or 40 years." This is one way of saying: "Therefore I know better than you." I bought my first F-S in 1978 and you know what, I am still finding unique knives and prototypes, which according to these other people, are simply more fakes.
Smooth Handled Fatman knife. Never existed according to the experts.
When asked how many of these fakes have they personally inspected the answer is usually none, or I get no reply. How do you know they are fakes?? No answer or because so and so said they are. This is similar to the expert's comments on what Shanghai daggers are legitimate, or not. How many have they handled? NONE. I have actually handled FIVE and I have even been permitted to take them apart. So I know how they are constructed, how they were converted from 1888 and 1903 bayonets. SO please do not tell me they cannot be made or that the bayonets cannot be converted. The ones I actually handled were made during the 1930s when Fairbairn, Sykes, Yeaton, Moore, etc. were stationed in Shanghai at the SMP. These are bonafide Shanghai daggers. Knives this rare sell for thousands of dollars. Take the price of a mint First Pattern, multiply it times 5, and you have an idea of how expensive they are. According to Wm.. Cassidy less than a dozen of the hi-grade daggers were made.
So I too have some small background in rare commando knives and WW-II conversions but I am not an expert and I am not going to email other people to straighten them out. I am happy to report the last person to contact me, and I, have restored a cordial relationship. The world of people sharing interest in these knives is small enough as it is. Even if you are an expert, it doesn't hurt to contact someone passively to share your knowledge. Make sure you are 100% right before you drop what you feel is a righteousness bomb on them. Now if they are obviously pedaling fakes for profit that is a different story altogether. Life is stressful enough, try to be kind. Stay safe and healthy during these days of lunacy. (And if your are interested I have a box of fakes to sell you!) JUST KIDDING.
A trinity of legitimate Yeaton Shanghai Daggers. The one on the right is soon to be mine by a trade.
I get a lot of emails asking what a knife is worth, in all sort of conditions from excavated to near pristine. The other week on Ebay I bought a fairly scarce Wilkinson Sword Co. Second Pattern "Button Hilt." I got it really cheap because some flaming moron used and electric grinder to try to sharpen it.Unfortunately this is not my first blog on a good knife nearly ruined.
First let me explain the F-S was never intended to be used like a Japanese Chef's knife. It will not slice paper-thin pieces of fish or vegetables. It was made to kill people! So the blade geometry is rather poor for holding razor sharp edges. The steep bevels that make it rugged also preclude it from taking a fine edge. It also means the blade does not, I REPEAT DOES NOT fit in the knife grinder on the back of your wife's damned electric can opener! If you even approach an electric grinder with an original WW-II F-S I hope the skies open up and a bolt of lightning flies up your... well I think you get the message. Here is the condition the blade was in, on both sides, when I bought it. I used to build custom rifles and my teacher told me "you never get rid of all of the scratches. You just try to make them as small as possible and all going in the same direction."
Some purists will probably feint when I start talking about abrasives and elbow grease to clean up the blade. This is when you have to decide when to, and when not to, try restorations. I suggest you buy a really ratty 3rd pattern for a few bucks and practice what I am going to show you. The supplies you will need are inexpensive and easily acquired. They are an assortment of wet/dry abrasives, a flat piece of thin wood, and a lubricant. I started on this knife with a 220 grit paper. Where you starts is determined by how deep the marks are. I finished off with old worn-out 400 grit paper. I used a tongue depressor for my "backer," and WD40 for my lubricant. (I took the following photos after I had already finished polishing the blade.)
Using the wooden backer is essential to keeping the blade's bevels flat, and the median ridge (line down the center of the blade) crisp and straight. You must also hold the abrasive flat on the blade and not rock it back and forth or you will round off the centerline, ruining the original factory profile. Use plenty of lubricant so the abrasive cuts better and lasts longer. As it wears down grab a new piece. I suggest running the abrasive paper at a 45 degree angle down the blade so that you are running across the ugly grind marks. Work each flat until you need to switch to a finer grade/grit paper. When in doubt start with a fine paper. If it is too fine it will not harm anything, just make the work go slower. If it is going way too slow, change to something more aggressive, then work back to finer paper as you progress. Here is my progress after about 1/2 hour with 220 grit paper. A lot of the grinder marks are still visible.
Next I switched to some fresh 400 grit for about another 20 minutes and then to some worn down 400 grit. All the time I kept the blade wet with WD40. Luckily the moron with the grinder mostly stayed away from the etched logos.
I should warn you that as you are removing the scratches you are also sharpening the blade. So be very careful or you may end up with a nasty cut. If the idiot who owned the knife before me had resorted to this method, instead of a grinder, he would have ended up with a very sharp knife without causing any damage. Here is where i finally decided to stop. I could have gone finer but remember we are trying to restore it to a near "original polish" not some mirror polish. Later, if you decide to, you can always go a little further. I decided I could live with this finish compared to how it looked on arrival.
Just be sure to practice on an old beater of a knife and if it doesn't seem to work out for you then do not ruin a better knife hoping you will perfect your skill. Leave that to the morons.
A NOTE: Do not try this technique on a truly relic condition knife because it will only ruin any value it had. For example this knife unearthed at the beaches of Dieppe.
My good friend in New Zealand asked me when i was going to do a new posting. I'm not sure what to write about. I am open to questions, suggestions, and your ideas. Not too long ago I let the Bowie bug bite me and I bought a second Larry Harley Battle Bowie. It is unique in that it is single edged as opposed to his more common double-edged version. I love Bowies and Harley's were some of the best, even though the design is not traditional. Some folks get all spastic when they see the handle with its heavily finger-grooved scales. No you cannot do florets or spinning pinwheels with one, like you might with a kerambit, but your opponent is not going to easily knock it out of your grip either. The single edged version is nice although less dramatic looking. The sheath is a little odd, perhaps setup for lacing to a backpack or some other gear. Type Bowie knife into ebay and see how many pieces of junk show up. I've tried "forged Bowie." mostly junk from Pakistan pops up. Tried "custom Bowie," and i got a lot of fantasy junk. Finding a good Bowie is difficult, not because there aren't plenty, just that too many ignorant sellers attach "Bowie" trying to attract more buyers. As much as I love Fairbairn-Sykes knives, the great hidden heresy is my love of Bowies. A Bowie with a 9 inch or longer clip point blade is an ideal fighting knife if properly balanced. Personally I find a ten inch blade works best for my hand size and build. Anything longer than 12 inches becomes unwieldy for me. So for now this is my posting and I'll get better photos of the pair of Harley Bowie I own in a day or two. Here are some photos of the new one from the sale. The grid is one inch squares.
Larry Harley Bowies became famous back during the Vietnam War era as gutsy Special Forces guys booked guided pig hunts using their knives to kill the hogs in a test their manhood.
You can find out more about me on the "Stories" pages. My hobbies have included training in Japanese martial arts, 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 gas engines and compressors. I am working diligently on my 400+ page F-S book.