Capturing "Traditional"!

waynorth

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I've chatted with one of the men over at Great Eastern Cutlery over the years, about using traditional jigging patterns, to help modern production knives have some of that old time goodness.
In a lot of ways, it is a lost art, but I have to give their chief knifemaker credit. He's trying to do it, and is making some headway. He is forever fiddling with the machinery, trying to find out what those old guys did, to make such beautiful knife handles.
One of his efforts has been to try the mid-century (1930s-1960s) Schrade Peachseed. He didn't achieve a copy, but he made some nice bone. I thought it would be interesting to compare what was accomplished with some older knives, so I purchased a couple of the "Traditional Trappers" which are pictured here with three different versions of Schrade's work from Walden, N.Y.
SerpJacks1.jpg

I have to say, I am impressed with the quality of these knives. No gaps anywhere, all four blades are centered, and snap is perfect at open, close and half stops.
The springs sit 1-2 thousandths high when you open a couple of the blades. Not acceptable on a custom knife, but fine on a production knife IMO, being barely noticeable.
The blade grinds are nice. The edges need a little touch up, but they do cut paper. Maybe just a stropping, but these are safe queens for now.
Using Schrade as a model was a good idea, and the knives have a nice traditional appearance.
I have enough EDCs for now, but I'd be proud to pull this one out of my pocket.
I admit to a soft spot for this cutlery. They are swimming upstream, when many good, old cutleries were content to be swept out to sea! They've stumbled, but I like their efforts, and they keep getting better.
At one time, I was determined not to buy anymore modern knives, but these guys have changed my mind.
SerpJacks3.jpg

SerpJacks2.jpg

SerpJacks4.jpg
 
Very nice juxtaposition, Charlie.

It seems they are edging closer to capturing that old time feel...Not quite all the way there but you can see the gap closing via your examples.

Thanks for the illustration!
 
Nice knives. You've piqued my interest, I have to take another look at GEC. I hadn't paid much attention to them because most of their offerings are a bit too stout for my tastes, but it's nice to see that their lineup is branching out.

- Christian
 
Nice knives. You've piqued my interest, I have to take another look at GEC. I hadn't paid much attention to them because most of their offerings are a bit too stout for my tastes, but it's nice to see that their lineup is branching out.

- Christian

Christian, that's been exactly my take since GEC appeared on the radar screen. In fact, because of that "stoutness", the toothpick (or potentially one of the "Cuban" patterns) was the only one I even considered purchasing (but haven't as yet).

Now, if a trapper the quality of which Charlie illustrated above was readily available, I have no doubt that one or more might find their way into my pocket.

One of the things that I appreciate about the better vintage knives is how svelte and well radiused/sculptured they are as compared to the much boxier modern adaptations of the same patterns.
 
Nice knives. You've piqued my interest, I have to take another look at GEC. I hadn't paid much attention to them because most of their offerings are a bit too stout for my tastes, but it's nice to see that their lineup is branching out.

Me too, they are great knives, but they really need to make "more traditional" smaller patterns.
 
Cool Northfields Charlie! Are those available now? And did they do a jack pattern with the pen secondary like a Schrade 294? Are they coming out with some muskrat patterns with the slim profile as well?
 
Guys, GEC is making a barehead single blade on the same pattern. That and the knives above are available. No pen secondary yet, Hal.
They are also making a 2-spring "mink" muskrat on a 3 1/2" serpentine stockman frame . A little smaller than a standard Muskrat which is usually 3 7/8".
Go here and check "new releases".
http://www.greateasterncutlery.net/
 
I am looking forward to when they make a Jack or Stockman on the 3 1/2" serpentine stockman frame

Something pockable......
 
With the workmanship, feel, and character of the old knives, the bar is set fairly high IMHO.
However, it looks like GEC is really doing a good job. Heck, they haven't been around all that long, and they have already developed quite a following.
The reports seem to show that they really are trying to produce a quality knife, and offer things that no other production knife company currently offers.

Great pics btw
 
Very good examples shown,thanks.

I like GEC knives a lot and feel they've made a significant impact on the traditional niche. Yes,many are rather sturdy but they are branching out into different patterns all the time. It seems difficult to believe that they are only celebrating their fourth birthday, much has been achieved already. The idea of a single blade Trapper appeals to me, I'd like to see a single blade 73 fitted with Spear/Longpull, too, sigh!

As to the bone. Clearly, cutlers in the past built up a wealth of experience with regard to jigging and it shows on older knives, some pocket wear of course can enhance the lustre and feel of the scales. The main thing with modern renderings is colour, I have yet to see a modern production knife that can emulate the colour of many older knives, that rich caramel colour for instance,a golden colour seen on peachseed handles or even just decent dark red bone seems to be out of reach. This too, could be due to ageing, it's odd because modern technology ought to be able to replicate the dyes/tints used in former times, but it remains elusive. This is what I'd like to see GEC aim at. Golden bone, Caramel/toffee,Green bone that is a subtle green, and some really dark but radiant Red.
 
Very nice trappers. Tomorrows collector pieces today, or should I say todays collector pieces today.These guys are coming out on top. I agree with Hal on the jack with the pen blade. It's more useful than the long spey in todays world. That Primble is making me break a sweat Charlie.
 
A slightly dissenting view on the jigging. I like old bone/jigging and new bone/jigging. Why do we want to make a 21st century manufacturer mimic 19th century jigging patterns. I like the craftsmanship of the old knives, but I don't see why GEC or others can''t produce their own patterns and jigging that sets them apart. In the future collectors will be looking for these differences.

I'm not trying to negate anything that you folks have said in any way. I just wanted to say I'm happy with the way the new manufacturers are going, GEC in particular.

The trappers above, both older and newer, just fabulous. I am drooling. Thanks for posting those lovely knives.

Ed
 
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I also like the look of the shorter rear bolsters on the old ones.Not a deal breaker by all means, just my opinion. I could stare at trappers all day.
 
A slightly dissenting view on the jigging. I like old bone/jigging and new bone/jigging. Why do we want to make a 21st century manufacturer mimic 19th century jigging patterns. I like the craftsmanship of the old knives, but I don't see why GEC or others can''t produce their own patterns and jigging that sets them apart. In the future collectors will be looking for these differences.

I'm not trying to negate anything that you folks have said in any way. I just wanted to say I'm happy with the way the new manufacturers are going, GEC in particular.

The trappers above, both older and newer, just fabulous. I am drooling. Thanks for posting those lovely knives.

Ed

I don't think there ever will be an exact replica of jigging, Ed, and I agree; "vive la difference"!
I think it's just the "feel" I'm hoping for. When it's just random enough, when the color glows, when the planets align!:D
GEC is doing a darn good job!:thumbup:
 
I think we can count ourselves as lucky that GEC and CSC and others have put their money and effort on the line so that we can continue to have quality built, USA made pocket cutlery.

We as the knife buying community have to support them so they can stay in business and they have to provide good quality hardware at a price point we can afford. So far, so good and I applaud their efforts and will support their business as I can afford to do so.

Thanks, GEC. Thanks CSC. Thanks Benchmade. Thanks Spyderco. Thanks Moore Maker. Thanks Case. Thanks Buck. Thanks, A.G. Russell. Thanks to all of the other production and custom builders that make knives for us! I for one am proud of the knives you make here and provide for us.

EJ
 
I got very excited by the examples shown, and the Barehead Trapper is a favorite pattern. I checked the link to see what they look like and the jigging on them is totally different and pretty underwhelming (to my eyes). Any idea if they will offer other handles on the new Barehead Trapper? I also like Muskrat patterns, but the GEC styles I have seen still look to fat/stubby to me. That Mink Skinner looks too chunky. Id love to see a Hawbaker Muskrat done sleek and slim with the jigging above, that would be awesome!
 
I really wish GEC would do a run of these slimline trappers with the Schrade pen blade as opposed to the spey blade. I would love an updated modern version of that knife. Even better, switch out the pen for a small wharnchiff....sigh, one can dream.
 
I am looking forward to when they make a Jack or Stockman on the 3 1/2" serpentine stockman frame

Something pockable......

So am I, but I couldn't wait! Just got my Mink muskrat, and posted a review here in Traditional-- check it out.
 
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