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.
I cannot believe I almost forgot it is Pearl Harbor Day! I have not had the TV on all day but they are probably still talking about fake news and impeachment. This is a tragic day even all of these years later when you consider how many thousands of men died needlessly because of the war brought on by the German, Italian and Japanese forces. We are living in days of insanity again and you have to wonder if there is a cure for whatever is wrong with people who are so laden with hate and anger.
Let us spare some time and prayer for those who have died in wars and those maniacs who are trying to start the next one here and abroad. God bless our servicemen, honor them wherever they are around the globe. Keep them safe and bring them home soon.
Finally I am getting a breather. The semester has ended and the 2020 one doesn't start until late in January. In the meantime I have a lot of writing to do as well as editing. The covert knife book is getting so nice I am going nuts wanting it to be finished. I am in contact with a potential publisher in England.
I have recently added about a half dozen new clandestine knives to my collection and hope to squeeze them into the book as well. Had it not been for this delay i might have forgotten to include the two small daggers that belonged to Peter and Prudence Mason. I had specifically asked for photos of them from the museum in England where they are on loan. It would have been a shame to miss putting them in the book. That is part of the problem, sometimes an overload of material is available and only me to sort it out. Then there are other places where the information just doesn't exist or is too deeply buried. If I lived in England this would be a lot easier to ferret out. One of my sources in England has died and the other has serious cancer and also fallen quiet.
Here is one of those recent additions. It is a Military Mission dagger with very dense ebony scale handles attached with brass pins. The ricasso is stamped "1" and "1941" in a crooked line of numbers. The blued blade has been carefully sharpened to a keen edge. The sheath is interesting in having a standard F-S type chape on a leather sheath with the center seam running down the front. This is the second knife in our collection with the 1941 date.
Just this morning I finished all of the paperwork for the college student grading so now its on to work revising my gas engine textbook and getting an ISBN number for it to please the college book store. Yes also to work on the covert daggers book. We're hoping the IT dept where my daughter works can salvage the stuff stored on her hard drive. Keep your fingers crossed. I'll post again before too long. Have a great weekend.
Yes I know I am about a day late on this one! I've been busy trust me. I am reading at least four books, working on the Covert Daggers book, doing a major revision of my Gas Engine book for the college, creating a new curriculum for the Spring 2020 semester, preparing for the students finals next week. Sometimes I don't even feel like booting up the computer. On the good news side the first pattern I have been paying on was finally paid off and arrived. It is a real beauty. Then we had a setback on my book when my daughter's computer crashed. Its not unrecoverable but we lost a lot of recent work she had done on it. So in a week my load will lighten up and I'll try to write a more valuable blog. So thanks for your patience and stop back next week.
This Veterans Day take time to reflect on the sacrifices made by men and women across the world who have served in the cause of freedom. Not only our own service men and women but those of our allies and all who gave time and lives to protect our liberty. It has become cliche', but freedom is not free. There are those in our own government and neighborhoods, who would deny us our Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. May our enemies, foreign and domestic, be rooted out and eradicated, so that liberty washes once again across our land. God Bless America.
Next time you see a veteran thank him for his service and mean it. Remember that they have been away from their families so that you can be at home safely with yours.
People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. George Orwell
Thank God these "Rough Men" are ours. God bless them.
It seems impossible to me that some greedy sellers are asking upwards of $300 - 400 for plain jane 3rd pattern knives. Even more incredible is some people are paying those prices. Now I expect the values of knives I bought 20 years ago to rise but seriously! I'd call it price gouging. Remember folks the combined manufacturer output of WW-II 3rd pattern knives was nearly a quarter million. Most of those made since the war have ranged in quality from Wilkinson's excellent war-time models to the absolutely awful ones out of Pakistan and China. Some post war years (and into the Korean war era) saw the production of a few well made knives. But, even the last production out of Wilkinson Sword was very marginal, with non-traditional shaped handles (said to me made in China) and blades buffed out like tableware or letter openers.
Beware, because many sellers are describing their knives (3rd pattern) as Wilkinson commando knives when there is no justification. They could be made by one of a dozen makers of varying quality. If it doesn't say "Wilkinson", it most likely is NOT a Wilkinson. If it has a coarsely ground blade and thin, flimsy guard you can be sure it is not a Wilkinson. Personally I would prefer a raggedy second pattern dagger any day to a pristine 3rd pattern. Its all a matter of preference but just don't get taken by some unscrupulous dealer on the famous auction site and pay twice what a knife is worth. Then there are out-and-out fakes like this one. I bought it just to get it off the market.
I can hardly believe it. Saturday one of my oldest friends passed away. This is really getting to be a bad habit. He was my life-long mentor, spiritual guide, a father figure, my abbot and friend. I had known him 60 years. He was the bagpiper at our wedding in 1970 and at my father's funeral. He married my daughter and her husband. I spent decades under his tutelage. He was 87 years old. Most of his life he taught high school Arts and Humanities and he was an accomplished artist, wood carver, and author. The ancient Scottish Highland traditions ran through his veins. He spoke several languages including Gaelic and was a true Renaissance man. I shall miss him. I hope he is in the Highlands playing his pipes and walking the moors. The photo is one I took this spring in Glen Finnan.
I hate it when the only news I have is bad news. My good friend, and knifemaker, Gary Bradburn (right in photo) has passed away. We met years ago as I was shopping for a quality tanto. Gary made some of the finest Shobu style tanto I ever saw. I am pleased to own several of them, purchased over the many years I knew him. His hamon were spectacular when other people were just starting to get a feel for them. One of the most incredible cuts i ever made was with a large Shobu he called a Hogosha. Gary was a big man, in stature and heart. He helped many an aspiring student to learn the art of knife making. I only met Gary one time in person but we kept up a running train of emails for a dozen years. We debated guns, religion, politics and edged weapons of all kinds. We shared photos, ideas, and tough topics like illness and death. We did not always agree but we always respected each others opinion and sometimes apologized for stepping over the line.
Gary was extremely proud of his knife work and his time as a Marine. He still owes me a small Vest Bowie and I'm holding him to it. I'm also hoping he sneaks his anvil and forge into where ever he has relocated. If he's like me, the fire will be provided. If I were to chose a man to stand beside me in a fight to the death, Gary would have been at the top of a very short list. Damn I'll miss his caustic wit and fast retort. He was a patriot and a friend, God knows we need more Gary Bradburns in this world, not less. Some of Gary's tanto.
As I move forward with my writing i found a great way to get free editing help. I know anything free is worth what you pay for it. So I joined a writer's group. We meet once a week and share portions of what we are working on. The other members are a mix of male and female (no gender confusion, they are one or the other) and of all ages. We each get a print copy of the submissions being read that night. It could be four or eight depending on the writers energy. Each of us gets to mark down comments, suggestions, corrections etc as it is read out loud. The emphasis is on positive suggestions. These marked up copies are then given to the author. My first submission was a section from my book on Covert knives. Surprisingly several of the attendees suggested I write a full novel. Well not until my F-S books are done but it was good reinforcement for me to keep working. With my daughter working on the graphics we are making good progress and I think she is up to page 100+ out of about 180.
Now she is taking care of that I am back to working on volume one, Shanghai to the second pattern. New Flash: I may have a new link to the mystery of john Paisley. Time will tell if it pans out or not. I have added some new covert knives to my collection as well. Many thanks to my friend K.F. Here are a couple pf the pages from the covert daggers book with Gwynne's artistic touch.
I am re-taking some photos for the book as we work through the editing process. Seems like I learn something new every day about cameras. I was having issues with fuzzy images and finally discovered the fix. This is a really rare X-dagger similar to the one Fairbairn gave to Thomas Mason during the war. It has a broad "S" guard and is made from a clean blank of steel, not a bayonet. The sheath has a small knife on the side in a separate sheath. Both are stamped for John Paisley. The small knife is in my book on Covert knives of WW-II. The parent knife will be featured in the volume on full sized knives from Shanghai to the Second Pattern. Trust me, we are getting somewhere now. I may start a "Kickstarter" fund to help finance initial printing costs. This is the quality I am striving for, so that the book will be worth your purchasing it. Hang in there!
Close-up photo of the side of a thumb dagger once belonging to Johannes Happe. These initials are about a 1/8th inch tall!
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.