Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sell - Keep - Sell

That's what I'm going to do with the three penknives below that I took from my desk drawer while cleaning it out recently. The Top one was my great grandfather's. From bolster to tip, it's about 2-1/2 inches with an overall length of about 5-3/4 inches. You can judge the size of the others by that. It says "A.W. WADSWORTH & SON GERMANY" on the blade. He died in 1927, and the knife shows some use, so it's been around a while.

The one below was his, too. It started as a mystery to me, as both blades were nearly as thin on the spine as the edge. They DID gradually thicken as they went back toward the bolster, but there were no square shoulders on the spine, either; it was rounded all the way back on both blades. The blades were exceedingly rusty, I'm guessing from being carried in sweaty pants pockets. The large blade had the letters "ROBE" followed by a rusted-out spot, and some script below that which appeared to be Skur" followed by the same rust spot. I tried various name combinations online beginning with those letters, but nothing came up. I was positive the blades hadn't worn that way, but couldn't think at first why they would be made that way. Eventually, I remembered that he supposedly had a green thumb, and at his death, was living with my granddad, who had an orchard. I decided that it was probably made for bud grafting. Modern bud-grafting knives have a very different blade, but SOME have a second "Bark-lifting" blade. Mystery solved; it was an old-style blade designed to serve both purposes. I felt like a regular Sherlock Holmes!

A 24-hour soak in pure vinegar removed the rust, but left the blades stained the same as if they'd been soaking in logwood crystals (not surprisingly). The solid brass handle slabs had originally had a golden-colored metal-flake lacquer on them, but the vinegar removed that, too. You'll notice that the bolsters are simply cast as part of the slabs. Since I've thought of attempting to graft again (the deer got my first efforts years ago), I think I'll keep this knife. I WILL polish the blades a bit, though.

The bottom knife belonged to my granddad, the son of the other knife owner. I suspect it was his "Sunday-go-to-meetin' knife," but I'm not sure. It's called a "congress-style" knife, I believe, and was made by Boker. It's as solid as a rock, but I simply don't need it. So, I guess I'll advertise it and the top one in the local "buy-sell-trade" paper and see if anyone will pay anything decent for them. Let me know if any of YOU folks are interested. © 2013



Sunnybrook Farm said...

I miss carrying a knife as my old work clothes are so poorly made that the pockets get hole in a few months. I have lost several knives and finally just started using the one in the multitool that I have on my belt. The old knives just feel and sharpen better than some that I bought, different metal I guess.

Lady Locust said...

I don't need another knife at the moment, but toothpaste is great for shining things up without damaging a finish or scuffing the embossed words.
I can certainly understand why it would be difficult to let go of them.
Happy Sunday

Ralph Goff said...

Those old knives are always interesting , especially when you know the family history behind them. I have one of my grandfather's, a "stockmans" knife, in good condition. Like most of my old stuff, I plan to keep it.

Gorges Smythe said...

That will work, SF, or you can get a knife that has it's own fob ring and put a snap on it to fasten to your belt loop. You can then let it HANG inside your pocket. That's what I do with my keys.

I'll have to try that, LL. Yeah, I hate to part with some things, but then I think of my poor stepson and daughter-in-law wondering what to do with my stuff and pity drives me onward! ;-)

I don't blame you, Ralph, I still have moments that I consider keeping the Boker of Granddad's.