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Mercator K55K and the history of lockback knives?

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by KHarper, Apr 21, 2019.

  1. Pilsner

    Pilsner Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Oct 28, 2017
    No imagination required. If you look at Haggard, Doyle, Wells, Buchan et al, there are several examples of what I satirised (not that it really needed satirising). For the German style locking clasp knife, if my memory serves then Buchan is probably the one to look at first. But that is a lot of novels to plough through for one or two allusions to a Mercator style knife! Good luck if you take the plunge...
     
  2. KHarper

    KHarper

    54
    Jan 4, 2019
    And it seems that neither of you paid attention to my original post where I said:
    As far as I am aware, the navaja uses a totally different type of locking mechanism, a ratchet lock, IIRC. Hence the Spanish onomatopoeical word for the click-click-clack of a ratchet-lock knife opening. If I am wrong, feel free to correct me.
     
  3. KHarper

    KHarper

    54
    Jan 4, 2019
    I just wasn't clear if you had actually read that or not. I've been reading Doyle the last week actually, and at least in the Holmes stories he never mentions "German style" knives, but he does mention "clasp knives" and "sheath knives" - in one story I noticed they say the dead man was found with "a sheath knife beside him", but later when they are getting the full story from the killer after apprehending him, he says "when he came at me with his clasp knife in hand", I noticed the discrepancy. But I don't think Doyle knew a whole lot about weapons in general. In another story, Holmes is investigating a murder where there has been three shots fired but only two "barrels" (sic) of the revolver emptied. In the bushes outside he finds a spent cartridge, and is highly pleased to discover "the second revolver was fitted with an ejector". Perhaps there is some highly-obscure type of ca. 1900 revolver I've never heard of that auto-ejects spent shells as they are fired, but I think more likely Doyle just was confused about the meaning of the term "auto-ejector", which in fact only means that the shells in the cylinder automatically eject when the gun is opened, which a person is very unlikely to do after firing a single shot (especially in this case, where the man high-tailed immediately after the shot was fired). Say he HAD for some reason opened his revolver after firing it, you'd find 5 loaded rounds and a single spent case, unless the user stopped to pick up the loaded ones. Or possibly he was confused about these new-fangled "automatic-loading" pistols that were just coming into use around then, which would indeed leave a spent case behind...but cannot accurately be called "revolvers".
     
  4. KHarper

    KHarper

    54
    Jan 4, 2019
    I'm curious, are the ones with the protrusions on the back of the handle also rocker-bar locks, or are they what is called "pick lock" types? I don't know what those are, but I imagine them to be a type you lifted a latch, instead of pushing a lever, to unlock the blade. I've seen similar lumps on rocker-bar locks, but they were much further back on the handle, or were cosmetic only. I also can't imagine the use of some of those attachments, like those ones with the kind of spade-shaped blades on them. Something to do with taking stones from hooves, perhaps?
     
  5. KHarper

    KHarper

    54
    Jan 4, 2019
    Sorry, I only just got a chance to watch these. Very interesting and informative.
    Several things: first, it only just barely dawned on me that the name "Messerschmitt" probably means "knifesmith" in German. I had no idea; kind of appropriate considering the fighters they built during WWII.
    Second, I was surprised to hear him say that they tend to have blade play; mine has very, very little. Most of what I can feel comes from the flexion of the thin blade, maybe the rivet, more than what I think of as "blade play"
    Likewise, I don't understand what he means by "significant pressure" needed on the locking bar; on mine, it is in order with other lock-back knives I have. Not noticeably different, except for being set more forward, and sticking up further (which could theoretically cause it to accidentally unlock someday, but I'm really not worried about it).
    I'm glad to see they are still assembled by hand after all this time. Now I just wonder if the blades are machine-made or not.
     
  6. tltt

    tltt

    May 1, 2008
    No, those are just mid-lock rocker bar knives with big humps. Pick Locks, as you noted, you pick up a locking tab at the front of the knife that fits in a notch or over a pin with your fingers. You need strong fingers to open of them -

    1830's - 1840's Wragg picklock bowie -

    [​IMG] .

    French picklock fishtail dagger -

    [​IMG] .

    The French and Spanish knives use a similar type of lock, but use a ring to help pull up the lock -

    Modern Cold Steel Kudu with this old mechanism -

    [​IMG] .

    The French, Spanish, and Italians (and a lesser extent English) also used many varieties of levers sometimes to lift the lock -

    [​IMG] .
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2019
    BilboBaggins and The Zieg like this.
  7. It actually says they were "lock blade" knives, not lockback. Which makes sense since the Navaja isn't a lockback.

    The notion that Buck invented the lockback is probably based more on the popularity of the 110 (to the point that "buck knife" became a generic term for a lockback folding knife) than on actual fact. The Mercator and, to a lesser extent, the Laguiole (which was the in-between stage in the evolution between slipjoint and backlock) are the oldest ones. In the US, there are three patents, Nordlow in 1894, HG Johnson in 1897, and Rohrer in 1919, that are instructive. The Nordlow lock isn't a strictly a backlock, since the activation switch is on the side, but the lock itself functions similarly. The Johnson lock is the old-school lockback mechanism with the lock release toward the middle of the knife. The Rohrer lock is is essentially what is used in a Buck 110, with the release moved to the butt-end of the handle.
     
    eveled likes this.

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