What was the first scout-pattern knife?

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Myron
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What was the first scout-pattern knife?

Post by Myron » Thu Feb 13, 2020 1:40 pm

Hello everyone.

I'm still relatively new here, but I've posted in the New Members Intro forum and also a couple questions in the making/modding area (can't remember the sub-forum name right now).

I'm hoping to get some history on scout-pattern folding knives here for an article I'm preparing for my own personal blog. My premise is that the first knife we would today call a "scout-pattern" folder was the Victorinox Model 1890. This was the knife that Karl Elsener designed in 1890, which became standard issue to the Swiss Military. It was tweaked slightly and evolved over the decades. Today the standard issue is the Model 2008.

When I say "scout-pattern" I am referring to folding knives with the four classic implements of knife blade, awl/reamer, can opener, and screwdriver. I am not referring specifically to Boy Scout knives themselves.

Any insights?

Thanks,

Myron

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Mumbleypeg
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Re: What was the first scout-pattern knife?

Post by Mumbleypeg » Thu Feb 13, 2020 9:12 pm

Levine’s Guide to Knives (if you don’t have a copy I recommend you get one) has quite a bit about the origins of various knife patterns, including “utility/scout” knives. I couldn’t find a specific answer that said “this was the very first one”, so I doubt that anyone knows for sure or Levine would have said so.

What he does say in essence is “four-blade utilitarian multi-blades date back at least to the 18th century.” These originated as an effort to make less expensive versions of multi-blade horseman’s and sportsman’s knives. He mentions the six-blade utility knife with punch and corkscrew on the back, which originated in Europe (German, Bohemian, French, and Swiss) as being cheaper versions of the traditional horseman’s and sportsman’s knives, while “retaining the most important blade to Europeans, the corkscrew.”

The standard four-blade utility (scout) knives offered by American firms began to appear around 1900 as a cross between the American equal-end cattle knife and German and Swiss multi-bladed hunter’s and soldier’s knives. The corkscrew was not a big seller in America, as bottled wines weren’t in vogue at the time. The pattern was typically built on an equal-end cattle knife frame. “The standard utility knife is 3-5/8 inches long closed, and has two back springs and a bail, it has four blades: ordinarily a spear master blade, a punch, a can opener, and a screwdriver-caplifter.”

He goes on to say “What brought the four-blade utility knife widespread popularity in the United States was its designation in 1910 or 1911 as an official style of pocketknife for the Boy Scouts of America. Until 1922 New York Knife Company was the only firm authorized by the B.S.A. to make Official Boy Scout knives.” Because of the pattern’s popularity however, “most all of its rival pocketknife firms made unofficial scout knives.”

I don’t know if that helps answer your question of not. ::shrug:: I suppose it depends on whether you define a more-than-four-blade knife with a corkscrew as a “scout-pattern” knife. That seems to be a fairly broad and subjective definition.

Ken
Member AKTI, TSRA, NRA.

"There was a time when young people revered their elders. No one knows when this was." - Bill Heavey
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ScoutKnives
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Re: What was the first scout-pattern knife?

Post by ScoutKnives » Thu Feb 13, 2020 9:48 pm

Very interesting subject .
The first 4 blade knife that I’m aware of was made by NYK
In 1911 .
These are extremely rare and sought after by scout collectors .
I have a couple examples , oversized bails .
Only picture I have on file .
Anything more than 4 blades I have no clue .
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B27DE9CA-B0C0-48AA-B794-548067373803.png
Always looking for Mint pre war scout knives

Myron
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Re: What was the first scout-pattern knife?

Post by Myron » Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:21 pm

Ken, ScoutKnives,

Thanks very much. This is exactly the kind of information I have been seeking. I will order a copy of Levine's book immediately.

Anyone else? I'd be pleased for any additional insights.

Thanks again,

Myron

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Mumbleypeg
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Re: What was the first scout-pattern knife?

Post by Mumbleypeg » Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:33 pm

Myron wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:21 pm
Ken, ScoutKnives,

Thanks very much. This is exactly the kind of information I have been seeking. I will order a copy of Levine's book immediately.

Myron
The book is out of print. There were several editions, the 4th Edition being the most sought after and thus the most expensive, if you can find one. On-line used book sellers are a good source. The 5th (and last) edition is essentially the same as the 4th, the biggest difference being the knife price/value guide, which is out of date now anyway so it’s a good buy IMHO.

Ken
Member AKTI, TSRA, NRA.

"There was a time when young people revered their elders. No one knows when this was." - Bill Heavey
https://www.akti.org/

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