Just an Old Cheap Barlow Knife

Discussion in 'Traditional Folders and Fixed Blades' started by Dave_Markowitz, May 23, 2008.

  1. Dave_Markowitz


    Sep 9, 2007
    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. Rupestris

    Rupestris Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 1, 2006
    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. :p

    Don't know what ever happened to that Barlow. Knowing dad, he probably gave it away.
  3. John T Wylie Jr

    John T Wylie Jr

    Feb 1, 2007
    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. Blues

    Blues Lapsed SuperMod / Cattle Knife Rustler Staff Member Super Mod

    Oct 2, 1998
    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.
  5. sir woodley

    sir woodley

    Feb 13, 2006
    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. jackknife

    jackknife Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 2, 2004
    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!:thumbup:

    The fact it is still in such good shape speaks volumes more.:thumbup:
  7. sir woodley

    sir woodley

    Feb 13, 2006
    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. RandyW


    Dec 10, 2005
    Very Nice!! Great pics too..I still have my first knife gave to me around 1976. Thanks for sharing the pics and story.

    Last edited: May 24, 2008
  9. KyThunder


    Mar 26, 2006
    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. Bob W

    Bob W

    Dec 31, 2000
    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. Absintheur

    Absintheur Banned by Moderators

    Jan 31, 2008
    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. ahgar


    Jan 4, 2005
    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. moonman


    Oct 30, 2005
    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.:D
  14. Blues

    Blues Lapsed SuperMod / Cattle Knife Rustler Staff Member Super Mod

    Oct 2, 1998
    I'm carrying that small Texas Jack myself, today. What a great little pattern.
  15. sixgunner455


    Feb 21, 2007
    Carried a small Texas jack yesterday. I agree, a great pattern.
  16. neeman

    neeman Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    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. dkonopinski


    Mar 21, 2007
    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.

  18. mister_wilburn


    May 23, 2006
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2012
  19. tsenn


    Sep 7, 2006
    Nice stuff...Are all the old Imperial Barlows carbon steel?
  20. knifeaholic


    Oct 15, 2001
    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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