An Old Green River Knife

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Notchy Bob

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This arrived in the mail yesterday:

GRK 5.jpg

I bought it off Ebay. The seller had it listed in an auction and there were no bids. He relisted it and indicated he would consider offers. I made an offer of about the amount you would pay for one of the new, currently produced Green River knives. He accepted in a New York minute, and now the knife is mine. Here is a look at the other side:

GRK 4.jpg

This is an old J. Russell Green River skinning knife. The blade is 6.125" long, overall length is 10.5625", and the beechwood handle is 4.4375" long. It has five pins securing the handle scales. The pins were probably peened when the handle was installed, but they are quite massive. Visible ends of the pins are about 3/16" in diameter. This knife has a full tang that is tapered:

GRK 2.jpg

The blade is about 1/8" thick, and the tang tapers to about half that at the butt.

The blade is stamped (not etched) with J. RUSSELL & CO. over GREEN RIVER WORKS over the big diamond trademark:

GRK 3.jpg

They apparently used a slightly smaller diamond earlier. I have researched the J. Russell "Green River" trademarks, and have not yet come up with a definitive dating system. However, I have several reference books, including The History of the John Russell Cutlery Company 1833 - 1936 by Merriam et al., Goins' Encyclopedia of Cutlery Markings, and M.H. Cole's incomparable book, The Skinning Knife. The Cole book is probably the most useful of these, although the Merriam book has a reproduction of a Russell catalog from 1884 that shows a knife just like mine. So, as near as I can figure, the subject knife probably dates from some time in the last quarter of the 19th century to the first quarter of the 20th. Maybe a bit outside of the muzzleloader era, but I believe it is still a pretty old knife.


The best part, however, is that I don't think this knife was ever sharpened or really even used. The blade is as dull as a butter knife, so it was probably used for some desultory cutting chores, but it retains its full width, and unlike virtually every other old knife that I own, it has no random grind marks from careless sharpening. It is heavily oxidized, yet there is minimal pitting in the metal. The beechwood scale on the obverse side (the side with the trademark on the blade) has a minor chip starting near the butt, but even the handle is in good shape overall. My guess is that somebody bought this knife long ago, and it ended up in a drawer or box and was forgotten. It is a classic "attic find." I'm pretty happy with it.

One final snapshot shows the old timer with its modern counterpart. Not much has changed, except the method of attaching the scales and the trademark:

GRK 1.jpg

However, I'll have to say that the older knife feels better in the hand. It was probably better finished than the new one when it left the factory. If I ever start using that new skinner, I'll probably get after that handle with a cabinet rasp and sandpaper, and try to make it more like the old one.

Best regards,

Notchy Bob
 
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I have a knife similar to yours. It has 5 pins in the scales. This knife takes the sharpest edge of any knife I've ever owned. I remember using it as a draw knife when I first got it many years ago and didn't have many tools.
 
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This arrived in the mail yesterday:

View attachment 162189

I bought it off Ebay. The seller had it listed in an auction and there were no bids. He relisted it and indicated he would consider offers. I made an offer of about the amount you would pay for one of the new, currently produced Green River knives. He accepted in a New York minute, and now the knife is mine. Here is a look at the other side:

View attachment 162190

This is an old J. Russell Green River skinning knife. The blade is 6.125" long, overall length is 10.5625", and the beechwood handle is 4.4375" long. It has five pins securing the handle scales. The pins were probably peened when the handle was installed, but they are quite massive. Visible ends of the pins are about 3/16" in diameter. This knife has a full tang that is tapered:

View attachment 162191

The blade is about 1/8" thick, and the tang tapers to about half that at the butt.

The blade is stamped (not etched) with J. RUSSELL & CO. over GREEN RIVER WORKS over the big diamond trademark:

View attachment 162192

They apparently used a slightly smaller diamond earlier. I have researched the J. Russell "Green River" trademarks, and have not yet come up with a definitive dating system. However, I have several reference books, including The History of the John Russell Cutlery Company 1833 - 1936 by Merriam et al., Goins' Encyclopedia of Cutlery Markings, and M.H. Cole's incomparable book, The Skinning Knife. The Cole book is probably the most useful of these, although the Merriam book has a reproduction of a Russell catalog from 1884 that shows a knife just like mine. So, as near as I can figure, the subject knife probably dates from some time in the last quarter of the 19th century to the first quarter of the 20th. Maybe a bit outside of the muzzleloader era, but I believe it is still a pretty old knife.


The best part, however, is that I don't think this knife was ever sharpened or really even used. The blade is as dull as a butter knife, so it was probably used for some desultory cutting chores, but it retains its full width, and unlike virtually every other old knife that I own, it has no random grind marks from careless sharpening. It is heavily oxidized, yet there is minimal pitting in the metal. The beechwood scale on the obverse side (the side with the trademark on the blade) has a minor chip starting near the butt, but even the handle is in good shape overall. My guess is that somebody bought this knife long ago, and it ended up in a drawer or box and was forgotten. It is a classic "attic find." I'm pretty happy with it.

One final snapshot shows the old timer with its modern counterpart. Not much has changed, except the method of attaching the scales and the trademark:

View attachment 162200

However, I'll have to say that the older knife feels better in the hand. It was probably better finished than the new one when it left the factory. If I ever start using that new skinner, I'll probably get after that handle with a cabinet rasp and sandpaper, and try to make it more like the old one.

Best regards,

Notchy Bob
WOW! Nice find! I have three or four RGR's in my collection, but none as vintage as that one.
 

pamtnman

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This arrived in the mail yesterday:

View attachment 162189

I bought it off Ebay. The seller had it listed in an auction and there were no bids. He relisted it and indicated he would consider offers. I made an offer of about the amount you would pay for one of the new, currently produced Green River knives. He accepted in a New York minute, and now the knife is mine. Here is a look at the other side:

View attachment 162190

This is an old J. Russell Green River skinning knife. The blade is 6.125" long, overall length is 10.5625", and the beechwood handle is 4.4375" long. It has five pins securing the handle scales. The pins were probably peened when the handle was installed, but they are quite massive. Visible ends of the pins are about 3/16" in diameter. This knife has a full tang that is tapered:

View attachment 162191

The blade is about 1/8" thick, and the tang tapers to about half that at the butt.

The blade is stamped (not etched) with J. RUSSELL & CO. over GREEN RIVER WORKS over the big diamond trademark:

View attachment 162192

They apparently used a slightly smaller diamond earlier. I have researched the J. Russell "Green River" trademarks, and have not yet come up with a definitive dating system. However, I have several reference books, including The History of the John Russell Cutlery Company 1833 - 1936 by Merriam et al., Goins' Encyclopedia of Cutlery Markings, and M.H. Cole's incomparable book, The Skinning Knife. The Cole book is probably the most useful of these, although the Merriam book has a reproduction of a Russell catalog from 1884 that shows a knife just like mine. So, as near as I can figure, the subject knife probably dates from some time in the last quarter of the 19th century to the first quarter of the 20th. Maybe a bit outside of the muzzleloader era, but I believe it is still a pretty old knife.


The best part, however, is that I don't think this knife was ever sharpened or really even used. The blade is as dull as a butter knife, so it was probably used for some desultory cutting chores, but it retains its full width, and unlike virtually every other old knife that I own, it has no random grind marks from careless sharpening. It is heavily oxidized, yet there is minimal pitting in the metal. The beechwood scale on the obverse side (the side with the trademark on the blade) has a minor chip starting near the butt, but even the handle is in good shape overall. My guess is that somebody bought this knife long ago, and it ended up in a drawer or box and was forgotten. It is a classic "attic find." I'm pretty happy with it.

One final snapshot shows the old timer with its modern counterpart. Not much has changed, except the method of attaching the scales and the trademark:

View attachment 162200

However, I'll have to say that the older knife feels better in the hand. It was probably better finished than the new one when it left the factory. If I ever start using that new skinner, I'll probably get after that handle with a cabinet rasp and sandpaper, and try to make it more like the old one.

Best regards,

Notchy Bob
Super cool find, Bob. Beaver trappers like this style of blade. You have a gen-u-ine piece of American history here.
 
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Congrats Bob. It's so cool to find old stuff like this. I remember my first Green River knife back in the 1970's. It would take a good edge, and was especially easy to re-sharpen in the field. And great for camp cooking.
 

flconch53

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Forgot I had this 1 in my stash. Iron rivets and I half tang. The wood is beech I think. No marking that I could see
 

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