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M1905 & M1910 T Handle Shovel 1905 - 1943

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Those with welded reinforcement are sometimes called "USMC" shovels but nobody has ever been able to document this. I have one in my collection.....just in case.



I've heard that also which brings up the question. Why would the Marines go to a different supported ETool? Unless the regular "unsupported" army one wasn't up to their standards. I'm still sticking with my thoughts on the unsupported being Military. This is the same minds that made a trowel bayonet that went on a trapdoor and wondered why barrels were getting bent and the 1910 Havorsack which they stayed with until 1943. Will now duck for more incoming. Regards Robert

Added Thoughts. Were any unsupported E-Tools found by Collectors across the Pond. Lewis??




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I would love to see your E-Tools and others. I have two WWII T-Handles. Both Ames 42 & 43 Robert



To Robert & others,


I was going to add a post or two to this thread, but by the time I got done taking pictures, I was afraid it might come off as a "hi-jack" of the thread.


So to avoid that, I'm going to start a new message that will continue this theme, at least the T-Handle part, anyway.


I'm sure glad Robert started this one !!


Best regards,

Paul Walker



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  • 1 month later...
After reading, I tend toward the view that the strapless shovel was probably a lightweight comercial design sold during the '20's and '30's maybe (which would account for the genuine signs of age and wear). Since the military shovels were not surplused at that time, but thousands of guys had been exposed to them during their military service, it would make sense to me that a tool manufacturer would try to captalize on the handy and familiar nature of the Army's design and manufacture and sell a copy for actual home and garden use (certainly advertised as just the right size to carry around in your car or for camping). But, definitive evidence to the contrary supporting a US (or other nation's) origin could still turn up, I suppose.


Let's pursue that line of thought. I also have one of these unreinforced shovels. Bought it off eBay 3-4 years ago for $25 in the camping section (this was before I found this forum and read the conflicting opinions regarding the validity of this variant.) The first reference I ever saw was Doughboy to GI. I wonder how long Ken Lewis has owned his because it would seem a bit of a stretch for a "surplus store special" from the 60s or 70s (?) to make it across the pond to wind up in his collection, beaten up and used, if he's owned it for a long time.


My shovel has mustard-y green paint that seems to be very old, but that proves nothing. But more importantly, it has a "U.S." stamped on the handle right where one would expect it on an issue piece. On one hand, this would support the idea that some surplus dealer in the 60s or 70s wound up with crates of replacement handles due to obsolescence (heck, I even have a replacement handle - painted dark green...almost like a dye that is soaked into the wood, not really a topical paint) and proceeded to attach some cheaply-made stamped blades to them for resale. But then we have the Burgess Meredith story above, seemingly indicating that they were around long before that.


I guess my point/question is twofold - 1) If these shovels are of a commercial origin to fill a gap post-WWI, then why would they be using US-marked handles? Or 2) was our "surplus store special" actually from the 20s, not from the 70s? I just can't imagine that the War Department would surplus such a quantity of replacement handles between the wars, since that particular pattern remained the standard throughout that time.


Bottom line is - if you see one cheap enough, I say go ahead and pick it up. Just keep in mind there is not a very convincing body of evidence that it was ever standard military issue.

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I guess my point/question is twofold - 1) If these shovels are of a commercial origin to fill a gap post-WWI, then why would they be using US-marked handles? .... I just can't imagine that the War Department would surplus such a quantity of replacement handles between the wars, since that particular pattern remained the standard throughout that time.


Again, just looking for a theory that fits the observations:


I could also see a tool maker copying the design and adding the US markings simply to make the shovels look like "legit" military surplus. If this was done in the 20's or 30's, perhaps the lack of legitimate government surplus was a factor in creating the market demand by making the supply essentially non-existant.


The wear and tear on all the ones posted does make these look like they're nearly a century old, so I'm fairly well convienced that they're probably not a product of the 60's or 70's. And, in the end, I would not be shocked to find out that these are actually a real variant of the military issue shovel when it's all done and said.



"Hope is not a course of action." Sean P. Kelly, SSG, 1st US Ranger Battalion

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The subject on the legitimacy of the non-reinforced (aka "first pattern") shovel has persisted over several threads of this forum. As I recall from other threads, a few members have stated that they clearly remember these as "surplus dealer specials" from the 60s/70s (or, as suggested above in this tread, the 20s), wherein enterprising surplus retailers took otherwise useless replacement handles, attached cheap, substandard blades to them, and made a salable product.


Well, I think I may have found an example of such an item in the following auction:




Looks to me like this is a cheap blade strapped to a surplus replacement handle (the seller even notes that the handle has a faint "US" stamped into it), and since the shape of the blade looks more like that of the M1943 e-tool, it seems more likely to me that this is what a surplus store special from the 60s or 70s would have looked like. Could this be what some forum members are remembering from 30-40 years ago? Of course, I'm not saying the "first pattern" shovels discussed here are anything more than surplus store specials either...but I am kinda hedging my bet a little... :)




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  • 7 years later...

A few things to consider in the debate over the unsupported shovel. In 1906 the individual tools were made by contract. The Specs called for both the shovel spade and the handle (the shaft portion, not the T part) to be stamped US. After 1907, the medal part continued to be made on contract, while the wooden parts of the individual tools were made at RIA, and the assembly was done at RIA. All the examples of the unsupported intrenching tool I have seen do not have the US stamp on the handle. If the contractor was already making the metal parts for the RIA contract, it would be easy for them to make the unsupported variant for the civilian market.........thoughts?

Now the debated non-supported handle that most said is a surplus dealer item. But if you look at the left one you can see where a supporting piece was added and spot welded. To stir up a hornets nest I still say the unsupported on was a military item and after weakness was discovered they added the extra support. I will now duck to miss incoming. Robert


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