• This community needs YOUR help today. With being blacklisted from all ad networks like Adsense or should I say AdNOSense due to our pro 2nd Amendment stance and topic of this commmunity we rely 100% on Supporting Memberships to fund our efforts. With the ever increasing fees of everything, we need help. We need more Supporting Members, today. Please invest back into this community. I will ship a few decals too in addition to all the account perks you get.



    Sign up here: https://www.muzzleloadingforum.com/account/upgrades

Another Old Knife

Muzzleloading Forum

Help Support Muzzleloading Forum:

Joined
Apr 6, 2014
Messages
2,998
Reaction score
6,930
Location
Florida
I just got this one recently. I don't know how old it is... I would guess early 20th century... but it looks old, and it has a homely, backwoods style that really appeals to me. The blade on this one, handle to tip, is just a smidge over 7.5", and the overall length is about 12.375". Maximum blade width is 1.25".

Here is a full-length view of the obverse side:

Old Butcher 1.jpg

There are no maker's marks of any kind on it anywhere, so I believe it is a homemade job. However, the shape of the blade has a very professional look, and the grinding is impeccable. The transitions are imperceptibly smooth, and there are no stray grind marks anyplace on it.

Here is a view of the reverse:

Old Butcher 5.jpg

The grind on this side is just as good as the other. I think this blade may have been cut out of an old handsaw. The metal is a very uniform 0.057" thick, which is pretty thin. There is a full tang, which is not tapered but remains full thickness for its total length:

Old Butcher 3.jpg

This image gives a better look at the obverse side of the handle:

Old Butcher 2.jpg

Those are not cutler's rivets. They are copper harness rivets, roughly size #13. The heads are slightly out of round, and vary from about .340" to .355" in diameter. The rivet heads are very slightly proud of the wood surface. On the opposite side of the handle, you can see the rivet shanks and the one remaining "burr," or washer:

Old Butcher 4.jpg

Two of the three burrs have come off and been lost, yet the scales still seem pretty solidly attached. These close-up views of the handle show one other real old-time design feature, which is that the choil is actually behind the leading edge of the handle scales. In other words, the handle overlaps the blade slightly, by about 1/8". I think this helps strengthen a potential weak spot in the blade.

I am pretty sure the scales are of unfinished ash wood, based on the texture, color, and grain pattern. It does appear to be a "white" wood. The scales are approximately 9/32" thick, and right at 4.875" long. These had minimal shaping. Except for that very minimal taper in their overall width, they look like just flat, rectangular slabs, with all of the corners slightly rounded off. However, this old knife feels pretty good in the hand.

So, I seriously doubt this is a fur trade relic. It's just an old knife. The feeling I get from it is that it was probably made by a talented craftsman with limited means. He used what he had... an old saw blade, some spare harness rivets, some scrap wood... but he put all of his skills into play to turn out a neatly designed and very well constructed knife. I would like to think he was an older guy. While the knife itself may not be all that old, the design of the blade tip is very similar to what you would see on early 19th century butcher knives, and the way the wood scales slightly overlap the blade shows a good understanding of knife design and an awareness of older ways of building them. This knife may have never skinned a buffalo or lifted a scalp, but I'll bet it sliced a few loaves of fresh, home-baked bread, maybe carved a Christmas ham, and it just might have skinned a deer, killed with an old muzzle-loading mountain rifle.

Just my ruminations.

Best regards,

Notchy Bob
 
Last edited:
Joined
Apr 6, 2014
Messages
2,998
Reaction score
6,930
Location
Florida
Wow, NB! That looks almost exactly like an old butcher knife I inherited from my mother. I’m not exactly sure when she first obtained it, but I know it was around for all of my nearly 60 years. I’ll try to post some pics of it. ‘Poet
Please do! It would be great to see pictures, and compare your knife to the one I have.

Thanks!

Notchy Bob
 
Joined
Sep 22, 2019
Messages
3,077
Reaction score
1,620
Location
North Carolina
Here are some photos.
 

Attachments

  • 6DDD66AB-32DA-4F96-AE0A-4E96CF20243A.jpeg
    6DDD66AB-32DA-4F96-AE0A-4E96CF20243A.jpeg
    81.6 KB · Views: 0
  • 6189E661-2F78-4B8E-B996-0E9C899C9134.jpeg
    6189E661-2F78-4B8E-B996-0E9C899C9134.jpeg
    82.8 KB · Views: 0
  • 333783B4-F866-47E0-9FC9-A292D7669DEF.jpeg
    333783B4-F866-47E0-9FC9-A292D7669DEF.jpeg
    81.8 KB · Views: 0
  • 5AFB0A96-E0BB-4176-A084-D0981D95209D.jpeg
    5AFB0A96-E0BB-4176-A084-D0981D95209D.jpeg
    82.1 KB · Views: 0
  • 72C969F0-1FA1-4F09-B7DF-791B731F6F8B.jpeg
    72C969F0-1FA1-4F09-B7DF-791B731F6F8B.jpeg
    92 KB · Views: 0
  • B442F82F-85E5-4BDC-8E6E-9D17236AD781.jpeg
    B442F82F-85E5-4BDC-8E6E-9D17236AD781.jpeg
    90.2 KB · Views: 0
Joined
Apr 6, 2014
Messages
2,998
Reaction score
6,930
Location
Florida
You have a fine old knife, my friend. The coloration and patina on the blade is beautiful. A seven-inch blade makes for a very well balanced knife, visually and in the hand. Thanks for showing it!

What's the story on that horn?

Notchy Bob
 
Joined
Sep 22, 2019
Messages
3,077
Reaction score
1,620
Location
North Carolina
Thanks! You too!

The horn is an old one I picked up, a while ago, to possibly make into a powder horn. Someone started work on it at some time, and I believe they made it into a hunting horn (the kind you blow into). I think it is actually pretty old. I might just leave it as a blowin’ horn. 😎
 

Attachments

  • E3769CF9-8CFA-46F3-A04B-0EB6008DAB8E.jpeg
    E3769CF9-8CFA-46F3-A04B-0EB6008DAB8E.jpeg
    75.5 KB · Views: 0
  • 7DEAD155-BD22-4CA6-A78B-768949CDCA22.jpeg
    7DEAD155-BD22-4CA6-A78B-768949CDCA22.jpeg
    89.2 KB · Views: 0
  • FC28D2CB-5AD6-47B9-935B-26F01857E389.jpeg
    FC28D2CB-5AD6-47B9-935B-26F01857E389.jpeg
    85.7 KB · Views: 0
  • 78295A34-435E-4EA3-9507-8AE168DE7BCE.jpeg
    78295A34-435E-4EA3-9507-8AE168DE7BCE.jpeg
    68.3 KB · Views: 0
Last edited:
Joined
Apr 6, 2014
Messages
2,998
Reaction score
6,930
Location
Florida
That's a terrific old horn, @UndeadPoet ! If it were mine, I would leave it as is, and maybe try to teach that rascal of a terrier that I have to come when the horn is blown.

No real data, but always told older knives had straight pins holding the scales in place, though not sure if it’s true.
The best information I have indicates tubular rivets, similar to the brass "cutler's rivets" used to secure knife handles, were patented by an American inventor named Mellen Bray in the 1870's. Prior to that, solid pins were typically used. There was a long period of "overlap," when both pins and rivets were being used. It is my understanding that brass cutler's rivets were not used much until into the 1890's, while a few manufacturers continued to use pins well into the 20th century. Generally speaking though, the pins are an earlier trait.

One of the cool things about the knife shown in post #1 is that the handle is attached with copper harness rivets. We had a discussion about these a few months ago, and the consensus was that the copper "rivet and burr" was in use at least as early as the 18th century, although I don't think it is common to see them on knives.

Anyway, here are images of two old Shapleigh butcher knives, one with the handle scales fastened with pins, and the other with rivets:

Shapleigh Hammer Forged eBay.jpg

Shapleigh's Hammer Forged.jpg

I have modified a few blades that were originally made for rivets so I could haft or re-haft them using pins:

Shapleigh Knife and Blade.JPG

Shapleigh Project 1.JPG

Old Shapleighs 1.2.jpg

Best regards,

Notchy Bob
 

user 49399

54 Cal.
Joined
Nov 26, 2020
Messages
1,583
Reaction score
2,711
Notchy Bob,

That’s my kind of knife! I have a few similar to that one which belonged to my grandparents and great grandparents. I would imagine your knife has butchered a few hogs and chickens in it’s day like mine did.

Thanks for the pictures and information!

Banjoman
 
Joined
Apr 6, 2014
Messages
2,998
Reaction score
6,930
Location
Florida
Notchy Bob,

That’s my kind of knife! I have a few similar to that one which belonged to my grandparents and great grandparents. I would imagine your knife has butchered a few hogs and chickens in it’s day like mine did.

Thanks for the pictures and information!

Banjoman
A kindred spirit! I appreciate the comments.

It would be great if you could show some pictures of your old family knives. Do you think they were home-made, or maybe hand-made by a local craftsman? I think one of the Foxfire books (I forget which one) had a good chapter on hand-made knives from the southern Appalachians. People used what they had to make practical, functional tools.

Best regards,

Notchy Bob
 

user 49399

54 Cal.
Joined
Nov 26, 2020
Messages
1,583
Reaction score
2,711
1B4633A3-057F-42BF-A03B-6F33E9FC64DC.jpeg
44849DA6-1B1B-4A9A-A980-30E4A2900517.jpeg

This one was found in my maternal grandmother’s smoke house after she passed. It was rusty and missing handles. My father in law put the cedar handles on it before he passed. This one has sentimental value.

0DAD0FDE-F37F-41DF-AC73-225D03EA6748.jpeg
5A0FF5BC-3E23-4B2F-8F54-1B4DE20A76A7.jpeg
This next one belonged to my paternal grandparents.
A19A1B44-3962-42CC-A1FA-F971D15BEE96.jpeg
0912B733-DAE0-47F0-8199-8A323F848A0F.jpeg
This little paring knife belonged to my paternal grandmother. I used it as a patch knife for a while.
962E530D-F09F-42BF-B2A2-D060F0260A6C.jpeg
962E530D-F09F-42BF-B2A2-D060F0260A6C.jpeg
82F2E43A-BE38-4E1A-AF5F-A7241813980E.jpeg
This old knife belonged to my paternal great grandparents. It’s been used a lot!
 

Latest posts

Top