Colonial Jack Knife

Jan 21, 1999
I just bought a small Colonial Anvil jack knife model 200 for $9.70. It has three 440A blades: clip, sheepsfoot and pen. You can see it here // .


1/ Is this what is called a multiple blade slipjoint folder?

2/ Why is it called a "jack" knife?

3/ I assume the clip blade is for general cutting, and the pen is for pencil sharpening; but what do you use a sheepsfoot for?

4/ Do you own any Colonial pocketknife? What are its weaknesses?

Thanks for any input!

"It is better to understand a little than to misunderstand a lot." -- Anonymous

[This message has been edited by Titan (edited 22 May 1999).]
I couldn't access the picture, but what you are describing sounds like a stockman pocketknife. From what I've heard, that would be considered a type of multi-blade, but not a "jackknife." A jackknife is generally a one or two-blade folding knife, with the blades usually pivoting off the same end. An exception to this would be the "muskrat" knife, with two skinning blades at either end. Also, most jackknifes are mid-to-large size. Therefore, even a Buck 110 folding hunter or Spyderco lockback could be a type of jackknife.
As a boy I owned some Colonial knives...not some of their better stuff, but very cheap "boy's" knives that I basically used to death. My slipjoint multi-blades now all come from Buck, Case, Schrade, Victorinox, Wenger, Camillus, and Ka-Bar.
The sheepsfoot blade is often used for precise cutting, as in whittling, leatherwork, etc. I find it often cuts hard plastic packaging and plastic bands (like from the post office) much better than a curved blade.
Boy, this was long-winded!

I found the picture:

I used to use knives like that a lot and I may have that exact model if I look for it. They're usually called three-bladed whittling knives. All three blades are used for whittling. The sheepsfoot is particularly useful for chip carving, where you dig triangular or chips out of the wood.

Eventually I changed to using fixed-blade woodcarving knives because the handles are so much better for extended use and you can shape both handles and blades to suit yourself, but the three-bladed whittling knives are more portable and they'll do anything; it's just that they tend to blister your hands. I used to use two sizes, a big one and the smallest I could find, and sometimes a medium size too.

If you're interested in wood carving see what your local library has -- I can't think of any titles right now but I remember learning a lot about technique from books. Look under both "wood carving" and "whittling."

-Cougar Allen :{)
Jim -- thanks for the info. Sorry for the error in the link. I called this a jackknife because this is what Colonial printed on the carton of my Anvil pocketknife. Case also has the same knife but calls it the mni-stockman. I made a search on "Colonial" knives and apparently there are only two of us who own/owned some!

Cougar -- as usual, thanks for the lucid reply and for posting the pic. Nope. I don't do any carving. I associate sheepsfoot blade for cutting seatbelts but I just realized that sheepsfoot blades have predated seatbelts by decades -- duh!. In any event, I don't think I would use the sheepsfoot on my Colonial when an emergency arises. Too small and cumbersome.

Q: who is Jack?
According to Levin's Guide to Knives & Their Values, the word "jackknife" may come from "jack" the sailor, "jack" the common workman, "jack" meaning roughly made, "jack" meaning smaller, or even "jack" meaning jacket. According to folklore, it could be a corruption or a Flemish cutler named Jacques in or from the city of Liege.
Jim -- salamat (thanks)!

I really like my first traditional pocketknife and hope to upgrade to Case, etc. in the future

One of my all time favorites is my Case stockman (with a pen blade instead of a spey). It's one of the few knives that competes with my small 'benza for pocket time. Anyway, the knife is relatively strong, looks good and has reasonably good fit and finish (just don't expect Seki-level quality). Plus, their chrome vanadium blades will take a "wicked sharp" edge. :)

Growing up on the East Coast Colonials and Imperial were all that was available in hardware stores and the 5 and 10. They are made in Prov. RI so this area was flooded with them.It seemed the farther South you went was where you would find the Case's. As far as quality goes they can't compare to Case or Fighting Rooster etc. But for $10 they are a neat little user.
I've owned a few Colonials. Mostly their Barlows (a "real" jack knife?) Most of the ones I owned were non-stainless, and dandy little knives for doing standard boy stuff. I grew up near Providence, so every hardware store had a little display. At the time, they were around $3, so I guess inflation has caught up with them. Actually, I think I saw the remnants of one in my parents' attic a few weeks ago.



Hi Mike
Another Boston resident. There are a few of us here.Are you like the rest and get your knife fix by visiting Stoddards?
And Chesapeake Knife & Tool. Although I once went in to the store in Faneuil Hall and asked if they had any Randalls. The clerk's response was "I've never heard of them. But I know Buck!" Oh well.

Nowadays, most of my kicks come from the web. But sometimes, ya gotta TOUCH one!

Yeah Chesapeke is more overpriced then Stoddards. Like you say go and touch and see whats available then buy on the internet for less then half in the cases of those two stores.
James -- thanks for introducing me to "Jack". I appreciate the help.

Bob -- I agree. For only almost $10, its a neat user knife. I find use for it daily. I will surely buy a Case someday.

Mike -- I found Colonials selling for $2 - $7 from the net stores. I bought it for almost $10 from a local mall here in the Philippines that sell knives for more than its MSRP! I was delightedly surprise you know a Filipino word

Thank you all for sharing your thoughts...
Hindi ako marunong ng Tagalog ;-) But I've been there. It's a beautiful country.


[This message has been edited by Michael Bennett (edited 27 May 1999).]