Jump to content

Engineer pocket knives


dustin
 Share

Recommended Posts

So I have an affection for folding knives from WWII always keeping a look out for different brands and patterns.

I recently found a four blade Engineer or Camp Knife that I believe to be a missing link. Thanks to the Camillus specification sheets we have a valuable insight into folding knife manufacture and the two sheets relevant here are for the US Army Engineer and the Camp Type Knife. Most know the Camillus engineer with stamped USA shield and on this sheet it also lists other manufacturers. Most other contractors did not use the stamped shield as the shield was not required but comply to the specifications. Alternately Camillus has a spec sheet titled Camp Type Knife, this sheet includes technically the engineer model but with stamped MD-USN shield.

An Engineer knife can be called a Camp Knife or visa versa. The four blade knife in the commercial world during that time and used for many decades afterwards was/is commonly referred to as a Camp Knife.

One of the manufacturers listed on both sheets is Imperial. We find a four blade camp knife made by them with a stamped USMC shield and other 2 & 3 blade patterns branded with Imperial on the tang. In the spec sheets contracts were awarded in 1942-43 to include Imperial for the Camp and Engineer knife so it has been my question for sometime; where are they?

We see plenty of Imperial Engineer and Camp knives with the eagle beak type can opener but this was not introduced to the production line until late 1944 so cannot be part of the 42-43 contracts.

The joint venture between Imperial and Ulster produced engineer and Camp knives branded with a simple Made in USA on tang so it was my partial belief that possibly these contracts were allocated to this joint venture which may have an ultimate partial truth.

In the spec sheet for the Camp Knife it has an interesting note:

Imperial-"Had portion of their contract of April 1943 rejected due to two piece can opener being defective"

Long story short I am toying with the plausibility that this Imperial stamped tang Camp knife is a survivor of the "rejected" line. As part of specification manufactured with all steel.

post-56-0-98680800-1390329053.jpg

post-56-0-21014300-1390329074.jpg

post-56-0-39424300-1390329094.jpg

post-56-0-92591200-1390329215.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Taking a look at other manufacturers of the Engineer and Camp knife this is an example of an Ulster. Again the two piece can opener and all steel construction. Pal Blade Co. also used a two piece can opener as well, not the Remington pattern, and missed an opportunity to snag some time ago.

post-56-0-73607000-1390329736.jpgpost-56-0-77310500-1390329746.jpgpost-56-0-14348600-1390329756.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Engineer/Camp knife by Boker. The can opener utilizes the bent tang like that of the Camillus pattern.

I invite anyone to join in posting their Engineer and Camp knives outside of Camillus.

post-56-0-32154800-1390330244.jpgpost-56-0-84551000-1390330251.jpgpost-56-0-29244400-1390330259.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Kingston (joint venture Imperial/Ulster) Engineer/Camp knife. These were also procured by the Navy. This is also the knife I believe both Imperial and Ulster used to fill contracts for the Engineer and Camp knives in essence three manufacturing facilities and as demonstrated Imperial and Ulster stamped tangs. The joint venture was a brilliant business move to consume more contracts.

In regards to the two piece can opener and as stated in the spec sheets as being defective the companies that utilized this pattern moved onto alternate types of can openers opening the door for another line of variations in the Engineer/Camp knife world. Illustrated here are examples of first production in essence but the design by Camillus was rugged and functional and did not change.

post-56-0-64303100-1390331084.jpgpost-56-0-31358400-1390331092.jpgpost-56-0-39371100-1390331100.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dustin, I've got to say it again, how much I appreciate you sharing so much of the information you've compiled. I know it involves a lot of legwork and time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would like to add my appreciation for your posts. Information on these lesser known military knives is hard to come by for most of us, and I know from experience how hard it is to dig out some information. Your willingness to share this is commendable. Thank you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My primary interest in folding knives stems from aeronautical but has spilled over from there. there are certainly many other brands like Case but you have to work ovetime for a month as these command high prices.

This is an example of a late war produced Ulster Engineer/Camp knife illustrating the re-use of brass in the manufacture and utilizing the Imperial patented Eagle beak can opener. condition is less than desirable but is a good example until upgrades can be obtained.

post-56-0-63226500-1390337023.jpgpost-56-0-19396800-1390337032.jpgpost-56-0-05200500-1390337042.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would like to inject a comment here, and hopefully it will not be taken as criticism, but as a warning based on my own experience.

 

In some of the photos, all four blades are shown in the near 90 degree position, that is, halfway between closed and fully open. This is NOT recommended! When the blade is in this position, it is flexing the spring to near maximum. When the blades on each end of the same spring are BOTH partway open, the spring is flexed out on both ends, putting maximum stress on it. It is not at all unusual for the spring to crack / break at the hole in the center where the retention pin passes through.

 

If you want to display all four blades open, it is best to have one of the blades all the way open and the other halfway on each of the two springs. This way there is much less tension on the spring. When you do this, always open the first blade fully before opening the other halfway, and close the partially open blade before closing the fully open blade, again to keep the spring under less pressure.

 

As I said, this is based on advice from an expert and my own personal experience of having a spring break when I had both ends partially open. Better safe than sorry, especially with the collector knives.

 

post-66-0-50502300-1390337047.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Example of a late war Kingston (Made in USA tang) incorporating the Eagle beak and illustrating the full use of brass as with pre war manufacturing practices.

post-56-0-04373500-1390337191.jpgpost-56-0-76579900-1390337200.jpgpost-56-0-69575200-1390337209.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The following examples of Engineer and Camp knives illustrate alternate can opener designs from the two piece design as seen on examples above. It could be the change occurred for two reasons, the fragile nature of the two piece and simplifies the manufacturing process. I can say from personal experience the two piece design is fragile as I have had the cam knob bust off when trying to open the can opener so collector beware. Using photographic evidence of displays with knives in them it appears these "new" type openers were introduced in the middle to late 1943.

This post and the following are of a Pal Engineer/Camp knife with stag and plastic scales.

post-56-0-38054400-1390337636.jpgpost-56-0-34434900-1390337646.jpgpost-56-0-49380200-1390337655.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The next two knives illustrate what I believe the answer to the defective Imperial knives with an single milled can opener. These knives have shown up in era photographs in late 1943.

Kingston Engineer/Camp knife with "new" can opener and plastic scales.

post-56-0-26107800-1390337968.jpgpost-56-0-73346300-1390337976.jpgpost-56-0-26783900-1390337984.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would like to inject a comment here, and hopefully it will not be taken as criticism, but as a warning based on my own experience.

 

Now you tell me!

Excellent advice and will follow those precautions in the future, Thank You

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Greetings Dustin,

 

This is a great reference thread. Thank you, for sharing your beautiful knives with us. May I, recommend you ask to have this thread placed in the "Reference Section" so folks can quickly find it in the future? Not meant as a dig on you (or your thread), I very much appreciate collectors who wish to share their collection in a meaningful manner instead of just another "what's it worth", or "lookie what I got" post. Those types of posts/threads are fine here, though I believe yours is of a higher value to the collecting community. OK, off my soap box, slinking off whilst dragging my knuckles... sanctuary... Sanctuary!!!

 

Regards,

 

Lance

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To following up on post #1 it is also possible that this knife could be part of an order mentioned in the Camillus spec sheets dated 1/26/44:

"Imperial received an order for 400,000 for domestic post exchanges of 3 different knives, a large part of which was a 4 blade camp, bone stag."

The specific mentioning of the term "4 blade" would suggest the other two styles of knives were not. Presented are three Imperial stamped tang knives. The three bladed knife can also be found with a USN stamped shield as with a Camillus version and it is known the Camillus version was listed as a Navy Aviation resale knife so it would be safe to assume the Imperial USN shield has the same intended purpose. This then carries over to the 3 bladed knife pictured here but for QM post exchange.

These Imperial knives could be the "3 different knives" quoted from the spec sheets.

post-56-0-78776300-1390343835.jpgpost-56-0-36840800-1390343844.jpgpost-56-0-66889700-1390343851.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The best consolidated reference we collectors have on folding knives is the Camillus specification sheets. It has been my objective in this overall posting to stray from high lighting Camillus specifically in an attempt to enlighten the community on the other manufacturers. The terms Engineer or Camp Knife can be viewed as Army nomenclature but for the Navy they used the term Utility Knife. A very common Navy utility knife can be seen in post #19, the two bladed pattern. The four bladed utility knife used by the navy principally was a Camp knife but distinct from the QM counterpart. The punch was replaced by a Pen blade.

This is a Navy Utility/Camp knife by Kingston, identical to the knife in post #11 but with Pen blade.post-56-0-69857800-1390346823.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is a Navy Utility/Camp by Boker, It incorporates a can opener design that Camillus references as "new can opener" and the blade configuration follows that of the Camillus pattern a change from the pattern in post#3

post-56-0-63076500-1390346897.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is a Navy Utility/Camp knife by Imperial. This knife changed very little being manufactured some years after the war then I made an interesting observation after handling many of them and I think the can opener is the key to differentiate from WWII from post war. Imperial applied for the patent on the Eagle beak can opener in November 1944 with the patent assigned in December 1945. Note on this can opener it says "PAT PEND", technically the patent was only pending between Nov.1944 and Dec.1945 so it safe to assume this was manufactured between those dates

.post-56-0-20846600-1390346935.jpgpost-56-0-50718200-1390346944.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would like to add my appreciation for your posts. Information on these lesser known military knives is hard to come by for most of us, and I know from experience how hard it is to dig out some information. Your willingness to share this is commendable. Thank you.

Thank you Gary and others for the kind comments. It is an interesting and fun subject tome and appears it is to some others as well and hopefully it helps you expand your collections. Always happy to share info.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...