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Thread: Just an Old Cheap Barlow Knife

  1. #1
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    Just an Old Cheap Barlow Knife


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    Well, not any old, cheap barlow knife. This is the first knife I ever owned. My father gave this to me when I was 8 or 9, sometime around 1976 or 1977 I guess.





    The other day I dug it out of storage to look at it and renew the edges on the blades. I gave the blades and backsprings a coat of Hoppe's Gun Oil so they don't rust, and enjoyed the feel of an old fashioned knife in my hands.

    It's an Imperial, with relatively soft carbon steel blades. The construction is pretty cheap. The bolsters are stampings and the scales are faux woodgrain plastic. They're loose and the whole thing rattles a bit if you shake it. AAMOF, it feels like if you put too much lateral pressure on one of the blades the whole thing will delaminate.

    I don't care.

    To me this is no mere knife. Receiving this barlow from Dad was a sign that he viewed me as being responsible enough to be trusted with a potentially dangerous tool. With it, I learned to whittle and play mumbleypeg. That's something too many kids don't get in today's coddled, padded, wimpified society.

    Now, I'm a father to two little girls, and I look forward to the time in a few years when I can sit down with them and give them each their own pocketknife. At 5 and 3 y/o, they already know what one is and not to touch any of mine they happen to see out. Under supervision, I let them cut loose threads off clothes with the scissors on a SAK. Once I feel that they have enough hand/eye coordination, I'll let them start learning how to use a sharp blade. Maybe I'll get them barlow knives.

    I'm going to put the Imperial barlow away now. I'll take it out again sometimes and let the memories come back.

    Nope, not just an old, cheap barlow knife.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Nice knife. Even better story. Glad you were able to hang on to that knife.

    My father also carried a Barlow. One of my first memories of a pocket knife was made with it. See, he had left it out and I just found it too irresistible. So as any mischievous little boy would do, I snuck it out to the back hallway of the two family house we lived in where I found out what "snap" is when dealing with stiff back springs.

    Four stitches and a chewin' out by the "Ol' man" and I was a wiser lad.

    Don't know what ever happened to that Barlow. Knowing dad, he probably gave it away.

  3. #3
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    Dad has an old Barlow in his larger tool chest. I remember as a kid using it to cut stuff around his shop. It's old , smells of grease , gasoline and oil , but sometimes when at his house , I will open that drawer where it always is and remember all the stuff he tought and is still teaching me , about cars ,guns and life in general.

    Just an old Barlow ? nah , its a folding steel history book to me.

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    I sent one of those Imperial's as a "first knife" to Augustus88's daughter a few months ago.

    Yours is a valuable knife indeed.
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  5. #5
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    That is my "exact" first knife also. I must have been about 8yr.s old too. (1978'ish) I remember the loooonngg ride back from Texas in the back seat of that big brown Buick. "Don't open that in the car son." That, I think is the moment I learned to fallow orders and to fight temptation. GOD I wanted to open that knife so bad!! Think I'll have a beer tonight and find that Barlow. It's put away somewhere in my shop. Thnx, M

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    I think it would be a shame to call it a cheap old barlow knife. As a piece of concrete history in your life, it is a priceless artifact. One that in time your children will have as a reminder of you, as well as the other things you leave behind.

    The fact that you still have it speaks well of you!

    The fact it is still in such good shape speaks volumes more.

  7. #7
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    Just found mine! It's in great shape for it's age and what I put it through as a kid, being my first knife and all. No blade wobble, all parts secure and snug, a few rust spots, nice patina and dull as Hell! LOL I'm gonna clean it up a bit. Put a nice edge on it. Show it to my kids and tell them the stories. Write a little note. Put it in a little box with the little note and let it turn up in another 30 years. Well, I'll probably open the little box from time to time. Thanks Dave M for reminding me to dig up these memories. MW

  8. #8
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    Very Nice!! Great pics too..I still have my first knife gave to me around 1976. Thanks for sharing the pics and story.

    R
    Last edited by RandyW; 05-24-2008 at 08:55 AM.

  9. #9
    My Grandpa carried an Imperial Barlow just like that,I still have it to.Granpa was born in 1893,i think,and died in 1975,my Granma gave it to me after he died,i was 7 yo.I carried it for another probly 5 yrs til i saved enuough money to buy my first Case.I get it out of the gun cabinet every so often and remember him,the times he let me whittle with it,watching him peel an apple,or just opening his mail.It's the cheapest knife i own,and the most valuable too.

  10. #10
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    I had a couple like that when I was young too, maybe 10 or 12 years old. Lost a few, found a couple, bought a couple. Still have one or two in my collection today - total junkers, but I wouldn't sell them for $50 each!

  11. #11
    Join Date
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    I have a few myself including the first knife, a Barlow from Providence Cutlery, my father ever bought me and the first knife I paid for myself, an Imperial Barlow just like Dave's. Since then I have added a few more. Without a doubt Barlows are my favorite pattern...


  12. #12
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    you really ought to pull that puppy out and carry it every now and then for old times sake. it's earned it. great knife and great story.

  13. #13
    My dad's been carrying an old Imperial barlow for years.I gave him a Case small Texas Jack for Christmas but he's still carrying that old barlow.I guess he wants to get his money's worth out of it.

  14. #14
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    I'm carrying that small Texas Jack myself, today. What a great little pattern.
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  15. #15
    Carried a small Texas jack yesterday. I agree, a great pattern.

  16. #16
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    Northern Galilee Hills, Israel
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    I got one just like that.
    It had been given to someone and then much later given back.
    Happy to have it back!

    Oiled, cleaned, and sharpened.

  17. #17
    Join Date
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    Norh Yorshire, UK
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    I've the same Imperial Barlow model, Dave. Made in Ireland and etched as a promotional gift for Rayovac on the main blade. It's a lovely example of that end of the Barlow market and it's good to know you cherish it.

    David

  18. #18
    .......
    Last edited by mister_wilburn; 04-15-2012 at 11:48 AM.

  19. #19
    Nice stuff...Are all the old Imperial Barlows carbon steel?

  20. #20
    Join Date
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    Central Massachusetts
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsenn View Post
    Nice stuff...Are all the old Imperial Barlows carbon steel?
    At least some of the Ireland made Imperial Barlows were SS...maybe just the later ones.

    All of the older Imperial marked barlows that I have seen were carbon....EXCEPT for the ones with the Diamond Edge logo made by Imperial...that whole line was SS.

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