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July 06, 2007

WWII Knives

nichols-smaill.jpgNice writeup on Nichols war knives out of Nebraska. Our dad carried one in Italy. WWII Nichols Fighting Knife. The blade is 7 3/8" long. The handle has a 1936 Buffalo head nickel inlaid in the pommel and the word "Nichols" above that. The guard is marked "Jesse B. Smith" and "872-20-82". It also has the original wrist thong. It comes with a Alfred Cornish scabbard that is marked with the same info that is on the guard. This exact knife is pictured on page 199 of Mike Silvey's WWII Book..


Sunday, June 17, 2007
Nichol's Knives

God. Gone too long. The curse of being lazy. I'm also going to blame the Willamette Valley's prosperous grass-seed industry. The ryegrass is pollinating so, for the past few weeks, my nose has been strictly decorative and my eye sockets have felt as if they should have tiny boy scouts sitting around, them toasting marshmallows (the wife didn't get that joke).

The subject of today's mindless prattling is the man pictured above. Floyd Nichols was a metal sculptor in David City Nebraska prior to the second world war. He speciallized in the small western-themed bronzes you can see on the shelf above him. I suspect they were less kitchey back in the thirties.
At the beginning of America's involvement he, along with many known and anonymous knifemakers, blacksmiths and home handymen, responded to the call from San Francisco's "Save a Life With a Knife!" committee. Along with his fellow Nebraskan, Frank Richtig and Bo Randall he produced some of the most drop-dead gorgeous knives of the war.

He developed a style unlike anyone else's as you can see. A cast brass pommel in a sort of "swan's neck" profile and a steel cross-guard with the intervening space being taken up with tightly-wrapped brass or steel brazing rod. His blades tended to be swept-point Bowies of a shape that other folks have called "Persian". Whatever.
His sheaths were beautiful as well, being made for him by Alfred Cornish, an Omaha saddle maker. He signed his work with the name "Nichols", and simply stamped each letter individually - I love that - into the brass and would occasionally braze a nickel onto the pommel (see bottom photo).
He may not have built the most functional blades although they
would certainly cut and/or stick. I've always wondered about the lanyards hang from kind of random places, but so what? They're pretty ("Very pretty, Colonel. Very pretty indeed. But can they fight?" I think that's a Donald Sutherland line from "The Dirty Dozen") Got to rent that again since that quote goes through my head every time I see a knife I think of as "pretty".

Okay, I've prattled to the end of my tether. I'm going to toss out a few Nichols knife photos and another shop pic. And, what a shop. I could fit three of mine in there.

The final picture is one I found on a "Memories of Nebraska" website, labeled "Dale Nichol's Knife". I know that Dale was his Dad's name, so I assume he made it for Pop in 1947. An appropriate note, I think, to end with on Dad's Day (My day! WooHoo!).

Posted by Oliver Hart-Parr at 12:55 PM

Posted by keefner at July 6, 2007 03:51 PM