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Thread: Imperial Military Utility knife

  1. #1
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    Imperial Military Utility knife


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    Here is a knife I recently picked up. It is a military contract knife made by Imperial in 1964. There are detail differences between it and the Camillus contract knives I have, but I don't have a Camillus of the same year, so it is hard to tell whether or not the Mil-spec changed, or Imperial just made them differently from the others. Like the Camillus, it is all stainless including the blades, springs, handle, bail, and pins. The screwdriver/beer opener on this one has a lifter stud and also a nail nick. The cutout for the awl nick on the backside is in a different position, and the nick on the master spear blade is different. Both the can opener blade and the awl are serpentine curved for offset in the blade, not crinked at the tang. The master blades are the same spear point, but the old Imperial has just been reground into a sheepfoot. Evidently a repair of some damage over the years. I like these old tough-as-nails utility knives. As this forty year old hard-used example shows, you can wear them, but you can't wear them out. All the blades walk and talk. Yell actually. POP!


    I wonder if any were made with the Walden or Ulster tang stamp. And when Imperial gave up the contract to Camillus. I have seen these with later '60's stamps, but no '70s yet.

    Codger

  2. #2
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    A real beauty Codger!
    Thanks for sharing with us.
    I have a Camillus but I have never even seen an Imperial. That might have something to do with the fact that there is only one small military base in Oregon.

    PS- I just saw one on ebay. Nice!
    Last edited by orvet; 10-25-2005 at 12:56 PM.

  3. #3
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    The mil specs on these did change over time (and more than once). The early ones were not stainless at all. I use to work in survival equipment in the AF for 8 years (active duty). Ive seen every "variation" under the sun with these knives. Many manufacturers supplied them over the years, kingston, imperial, camillus, etc. etc. etc. (just to name a few). Ulster may have made some, can't remember at the moment. I do not believe there were any made with waldens stamp.

    Camillus had held the contract for these for quite some years, before that it was imperial (before that kingston), and for a short period of time there were even some made in Japan that were issued, but not for a short period of time (I believe that was either the late 70's, or early 80's?)!
    Last edited by rev_jch; 10-25-2005 at 10:03 AM.

  4. #4
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    Thanks! That helps some. I saw a Camillus 1966 last night that had the lifter stud as well, so likely the Imperial/Camillus contracts overlapped. I know they did help each other out on production sometimes, and the mid sixties saw a boom (pun intended) in defense spending. There was a "connection" between Camillus and Imperial Knife Associated Companies (the Baers). Albert Baer went to work for Adolph Kastor at Camillus Knife Company in 1922 when he was 16.

    Codger

  5. #5
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    Well they did eventually buy imperial out!

  6. #6
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    Interesting, I have two from 1997 (the commercial version marked USMC), one is stamped Camillus and the other one Western.

    I have a red BSA boy scout utility marked Imperial prov. USA from about the same period.

    All three were ordered as Camillus from the KNIFECENTER and arrived with the different tang stamps, I guess likely all were made by Camillus.

    Luis

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by rev_jch
    Well they did eventually buy imperial out!
    Camillus bought Imperial???? How so?

    Codger

  8. #8
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    no, no, no.........schrade. Sorry my head was somewhere else! I was thinking of Baer when he aquired schrade later (and how schrade aquired imperial, or vice versa).

    The western marked ones were never military issue. Camillus started taking westerns name and adding it to the military knife when they aquired western (back in the 90's?). They listed it as a "camp knife" just like they do when they sell them (their own camillus stamped ones, that are contract knives) in the civilian world. They, the western stamped ones, have never been military isssue.

  9. #9
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    I'm not sure exactly when Albert bought Imperial, but I think he owned it when he bought Ulster in 1941, and they were joined in 1942 (joined by brother Henry Baer) to become Imperial Knife Associated Companies, then he bought Schrade Cutlery Company in 1946 and renamed it the Schrade Walden Cutlery Corp (Changed in 1973 to Schrade Cutlery Corp), it became a division of Imperial Knife Associated Companies. In 1985, Imperial Knife Associated Companies name was changed to Imperial Schrade Corp.

    I haven't seen the utility knives with Western markings. I believe they were bought by Camillus in 1991.

    Codger

  10. #10
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    I actually have a couple of these westerns made by camillus in the u.s. utility knife configuration. They are basically the same knife, but with a western stamp. The camillus made ones have had two variations in the last 20+ years. One, the blade is ground flat, the other the bevel starts a little bit more than 3/4 up the blade.

  11. #11
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    Ulster Tangstamped!

    Yup, just as I suspected, they were made by Ulster as well. Still with the lifter stud, so at approximatly the same timeframe as the Imperial, early/mid 1960's.



    Codger

  12. #12
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    I have 2 of these knives. One is a 1964 Imperial and the other is a 1991 Camillus. The Camillus box bears the number S1760B.

    The Imperial has the aforementioned lifter stud, but it protrudes beyond the bolster -- so far that it could tear up a pocket if carried long enough.

    A bolster on each knife is engraved U.S.

    The can opener blades on both my knives are difficult to open. The Camillus has never been used and the Imperial appears to have little or no use. Perhaps the spring would loosen up a little with use.

  13. #13
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    I also have the 1964 Imperial. It was given to me by my uncle after returning from one of his many trips to Nam. Long story. His was used during his tour and the can opener opens quite easily and snaps shut with a great click. THe bottle opener opens real easy. Guess easy opens (twist offs) wern't in use then
    I tried to carry it on a plane from NYC back home to Bos in the 80's and set off all kinds of bells and whistles. Forgot it was in the back pocket. Best quicky frisk I ever had! They actually let me keep it back then. Today it would have either been confiscated of I would have had to spring for a self mailer. There's a story for every knife.
    TTYL
    Larry
    I've gotten that dreaded furniture disease. That's when your chest is falling into your drawers!

  14. #14
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    Right Larry,
    I don't think I ever saw a twist off bottle cap overseas. Once I got in country I never saw another pull tab can either. Just rusty old cans of Schlitz and Budweiser, usually warm. I didn't have a knife with a can opener on it either, just my Camillus electrician knife that was issued to me. It worked fine to open a beer if I couldn't find a church key.

  15. #15
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    As i suspected, I found a MIL-K Utility knife with Schrade tangstamped 1982. There may indeed be a Walden version out there as well.


    Codger

  16. #16
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    Having been born in 1964, reading this thread made me start looking--an inexpesive artifact as old as me! I picked one up cheap at an antique store yesterday, lifter on the bottleopener gone (it left a mark on the handle where it had been banging over the years), the blade was missing the tip. It showed signs of an attempt at re-establishing a point. I was wondering given its condition if y'all think it is a mistake to re-profile the tip? I was also hoping that those who had experience with them in service could tell me if the loss of the bladelifter was common. Thanks guys.

  17. #17
    Bartleby, I had a years paid vacation in the Far East in 1969. As orvet said, the beer came in steel cans and every G.I. that I knew carried his own church key and P-38. It was part of your essential gear. I don't remember anyone carrying multi-blade pocket knives, and certainly nothing like the SAK's that are so common today.

    This is the knife I carried everyday; my father gave it to me when I shipped out:


  18. #18
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    A knife like that with major damage has little collector value, so I don't think you can harm it by reprofiling the blade. I ocassionally see one with the tip of the can opener broken off, but hardly ever with the entire blade broken off. Blade lifters were often reprofiled or removed by the users (Uncle Sam owned them and the users I think). They were eleminated altogether from the MILSPEC later, obviously they were unhandy, or pocket eaters.

    It obviously has a value to you because of your birth year stamp, so to you it has a special value. That said, it is yours to do with as you wish! Fooling with busted knives is an interesting hobby in it's own right! Enjoy!

    Codger

  19. #19
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    Very interesting thread! Thanks for getting the ball rolling Codger. I know a gun shop near me that has a Camillus, or did last time I was there. After reading this thread, I'm feeling the urge to back & get it, if it's still there. Funny how that works. Are there any differences between the civilian & military version on the Camillus? Is the DOM stamped on the tang, & if not, how do you date these?

  20. #20
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    I am not a dedicated collector of this pattern, but have owned them as users, then picked up examples of them with my favorite makers stamps after I found out Camillus was not the only maker. I think even the civillian issues have date stamps, but I am not sure. And I think even they are made to Milspec, though they may have an odd scale stamp, other than U.S. . I have now seen examples back as far as a 1958 date, so I have no idea when they were first made. They have always been a great "bang-for-the-buck" knife, even if a bit larger than my EDC stockman. It will take treatment I wouldn't expect of my stockman.

    This from a dedicated collector: "They were made by Camillus, Case, Imperial, Kingston, Queen, Schrade, Stevens, Ulster, Utica, Western, and probably some others I have not found yet. ......"

    Codger

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