Did Horace Kephart really use a Marbles Woodcraft knife?

May 12, 2020
Hi everyone, newbie here.
After reading Horace Kephart's book...Camping and woodcraft, it made me wonder.. IF.. he really started using - a Marbles woodcraft knife? (based on the sketch he provided of a knife) If so, is that woodcraft knife also in the museum along with his custom Colclesser Bros knife? Did he really switch to a Marbles knife years later?

Nov 20, 2005
His Kephart (Colclesser Bros knife) preceeded his move to the Smoky Mountain area. I understand at some point he had a falling out with Colclesser. His first few editions of Camping and Woodcraft (book) showed his Kephart. Later editions showed what appeared to be a Marbles woodcraft knife. Both are pretty general purpose knives of moderate size and I think that is the important thing to take from his book and not necessarily the actual design.

I have not visited the museum display, so I can not comment as to whether the Marbles knife is also on display. He also carried a slip joint knife and I don't believe that knife is on display either.


Gold Member
Oct 21, 2014
Difficult to say one way or the other if he does not specifically say that he switched.

From what I remember, he (like Mr. Nessmuk before him) liked a thin blade between 4 and 5 inches, that had a bit of flex to aid in skinning a critter.

If I recall the specs of the Marbles Ideal knife, it had a blade of 6 or more inches, was a bit thicker, with no flex.
From what I remember, the Marbles Ideal was a clip point. Not his life long preferred spear point.

Also, taking into consideration the times in which Mr. Kephart was raised, and the years he was active, I doubt he would change just for the sake of change before his existing knife (or other tool, for that matter) was worn out and pretty much unusable. Especially during the 1930's Great Depression, when funds were tight.
(it takes a mighty long time to sharpen something like the Kephart pattern spear point blade down to a "toothpick" ... probably longer than the average single lifetime.)

I suppose it is possible that Marbles eventually "sponsored" Mr. Kephart, (and others) giving him products and/or paying him in exchange for promoting Marbles products in his articles, and for appearing in Marbles print ads.
(no different than the sponsorship deals golfers, football, basketball, baseball players, and the "professional" on TV "hunters" and hook and line fisherman get today.)
Dec 29, 2007
Marbles may have gave him sample knives but I have never seen a print ad with Kephart in it. Still, putting the knife in his book might have been enough.


Gold Member
Jul 7, 2000
In my edition of his book the text says: "For years I used knives of my own design, because there was nothing on the market that met my notion of what a sensible, practical sheath knife should be; but we have it now in the knife here shown." And the knife shown is the Marbles knife.

So, either he found the Marbles knife for sale somewhere and decided it was better than his own design, or perhaps Marbles paid him to do this. We will never know which is the true story.