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A study of some pocket knives of 1856

Posted by Administrator on 2/9/2015

Let's take a moment and examine some knives that were recovered from the steamboat Arabia wreck. A close study of a picture of some of the pocket knives in the Arabia collection tells us many things about pocket knives from the time period of 1856, the year that the Arabia sank. The first thing that we will look at are the patterns. In examining the below photo, we can clearly identify the following patterns:

- Swell End Jack
- Curved Regular Jack
- Congress
- Barlow
- Farmer's
- Hawk Bill or Pruner

If we study the photo even more, we can identify the following blade styles:

- Clip point
- Large spear point
- Small spear point
- Sheep Foot
- Pruner
- Rope or Sailor's

We can see multiple blade folders, and a very close examination will also clearly show evidence of tang stamps on some of the knives.

Now, let's take a look at handle materials that can be seen:

- Stag
- Wood
- Horn
- Bone.

There are a variety of shields inlaid in some of the handles, and of particular interest to me are the large round rivets found on a few of the handles. Another thing that intrigues me is the crude cross-cut that has been done on a few of the handles.

This photo contains a wealth of information on what was readily available in 1856 for patterns, blade styles, and handle materials. I value such photos because we can learn so much from them. It's an effective glimpse back in time. I myself for the longest time had thought that clip points did not make their debut until well after the Civil War, and thus seeing them in this photo I stand corrected. It had also been a widely believed reenactorism that to be period correct, pocket knives should be void of any tang stampings, and thus again, we can look at this photo and stand corrected and see that both with and without are equally accurate.

I really enjoy getting this first person view of such things, it's the next best thing to actually being there and I have referred to this photo numerous times in my effort to accurately replicate 19th century style patterns in my offerings. I hope that you have enjoyed my ramblings. Thanks for your interest, take care all.

Best regards;



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