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OUR HISTORY - *interesting* stuff, LONG, COOL!

Jim March

Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Oct 7, 1998
First up, the following post showed up on rec.knives and as you can imagine, caused a lot of people to damn near go into shock. I've withheld his EMail address so he doesn't get bombarded to hell and gone, but this is REAL as far as I can tell:

Title: Cleaning out storage
Author: William L. Cassidy

I recently went through one of my storerooms and found that I had accumulated quite a bit of old material having to do with knives,
knife-making, and so forth, stemming from the period of time when I was the editor of Knife Digest, editor of American Blade (briefly), etc.

It strikes me that some of this material may be useful to one (or more) of the current knife-related publications. For example, I find several thousand photographs from the 1975-1980 era, a large amount of technical
correspondence from the various knifemakers of the era, etc.

I also found my knife-fighting archives, inclusive of correspondence, business records, etc., having to do with Rex Applegate, W.E. Fairbairn, the MEWD Corp., the Castle Knife Co., etc. There are
engineering drawings, reports, and all manner of other curious things.

I also found my box of prototypes, collectibles, etc., and my knife-related library, which is extensive and in some respects unique in the field. The former category is inclusive of some rare items, such as W.E. Fairbairn's own F-S knife (and the Wilkinson factory prototype thereof), Fairbairn's own Shanghai model (given to me by his son), Fairbairn's prototypes for knives he designed after the F-S, various
things that the cutlers in Solingen and Sheffield gave me, numerous OSS and intelligence community-related edged weapons, etc. Some of these items I will probably donate to the CIA museum, others I will sell. The latter category (i.e. the library) likewise has some nice things, inclusive of
unpublished manuscripts by well-known individuals, first-editions, signed copies, etc., etc.

I was, candidly, surprised to see that any of the above survived the twenty-odd years since I last cared to look.

If anyone is interested in this sort of material, please feel free to drop me a line with your offer.


Jim again. So as soon as several dozen people got through choking, we eMailed him with "THIS IS VALUABLE STUFF!!!".

In exchanging private EMail with him and from later posts he's done, he seems to have a better handle on what he's got. He's slowly scanning stuff, and the very first pageload of material is now up at:

Must be seen to be believed. He then did another post to rec.knives detailing the most fascinating knife from that page, the Fairbairn "Cobra". It was a huge monster of a "heavy dagger" with a radical forward cant, and it won't take an astute observer to realize why I'd personally be freaked out on seeing it and reading about it. Here's his post on that piece from rec.knives:


One of the neglected episodes in W.E. Fairbairn's fruitful career is his post-war work in Cyprus.

I see he was most active in February-April 1956, working directly for G.H. Robins, Commissioner of Police, and H.J. Scott, OIC of the Mobile Reserve, Athalassa. The bulk of this effort was devoted to training riot police, authoring a riot manual, and developing a bullet-proof shield he called
the "STONE."

Singularly, he also spent considerable effort on developing something he called the "COBRA" fighting knife. His interest in this weapon, and the system of knife fighting it supported, continued after he returned to
England, and occupied his attentions up until his death.

Fairbairn's son, a retired British intelligence officer, told me that his
father was "never really satisfied" with the Fairbairn-Sykes knife and always thought to make improvements. Apparently, the elder Fairbairn believed that edged weapons are engendered by particular wars--an edged
weapon that is suitable in one, may not be suitable in another.

No doubt inspired by changes he saw in post-war Asia (the Empire was crumbling), he foresaw a time when "western-trained" knifefighters would confront "eastern-trained" knife fighters. While he had confidence in the Shanghai School methods of which he was the principal author, he was less sanguine about the abilities of the various practitioners. He also saw trouble looming in the Middle East, so he set about to instruct himself in the indigenous forms of knife fighting to be found there. Such thinking was, of course, a measure of his greatness.

The COBRA, and the COBRA method, was the result. His son demonstrated the techniques to me one winter's morning, in his backyard. The neighbors thought we were mad, cavorting around with fearsome-looking weapons whilst
dressed in suits. He also gave me Fairbairn's signed blueprints for the weapon, and a copy of a hitherto unpublished manual in its use. I have posted a picture of the weapons we used at:

The style of play is quite unique. Whereas the Shanghai School is centered on speed, the Cobra style is centered on confusion. Still, the two do have something in common--Fairbairn privately instructed that the method in knife fighting is to employ the blade like a snake's tongue, and this is
what inspired him to name his weapon the "Cobra." I do not know of many people in his era who went to the depths he did in this art--for example, he studied sleight of hand, to see if he could incorporate a professional
magician's misdirection methods, and these he worked into the "Cobra" style. I also noticed the style to have much in common with certain
Chinese styles, albeit with a decidedly Middle Eastern flavor.

Anyway, the above is by way of brief explanation of a reference I made in an earlier post. All of you budding authors are at liberty to quote me, but kindly do not quote me out of context, and be sure to cite your source. The difference between a scholar and a plagarist is a footnote.


Jim again. Obviously, anything further Mr. Cassidy can publish will be welcome. I've also put a bug in his ear in private EMail that enthusiasts with established reps in SoCal might be interested in doing some volunteer archival/scanning work, and we'll see what comes of it.

Collections of history of THIS sort don't just drop out of the sky. "Unpublished Fairbairn combat book - and STYLE"?


Jim March
Jeeeesus is about right!

Will that manuscript of Fairbairn's Cobra method ever be published?
I know that the forward-swept, hook, claw, hawkbill blade crowd will probably be curious if some of the techniques can be translated into their personal carry options, most likely smaller folders and fixed blades(maybe well suited for those sleight of hand confusion tactics), and better suited for those big custom monsters.
Man, I haven't researched W.E Fairbairn that intensely, but he seems to have been well ahead of his time with his progressive vision. Please keep us updated on the status of this collection.

It gets better. He must have been typing on THIS for a while:

It's a complete previously UNPUBLISHED knife combat manual by Fairbairn.

Oh my god, we've hit the motherload, guys.

Jim March
Thanks for going to the trouble of posting this stuff.It's unreal.
Whelp, here comes more.

First off, I've avoided posting his EMail addresses here and on Knifeforums. Despite that, just from the rec.knives posts he's got over 150 EMails come in on this over the last 24 hours.

So...I think for the moment, we oughta let him breathe a bit.


(Mr. Cassidy speaking

In response to those several collectors who wrote to me asking for photos, documentation, etc. reference my previous remarks on the
Applegate-Fairbairn, I have placed a few items on the web at

I also went back through my files and extracted all the correspondence that passed between Applegate and myself; it did help to jog my memory.

The custom knifemaker who built the first protoype for me was Barry Wood. He did a fine job, as the photos illustrate.

Thereafter, Rex took the project to T.J. Yancey, of Estes Park, Colorado. Rex distributed the Yancey version on his own, for $350., including a copy of a book I wrote entitled Complete Book of Knife Fighting (autographed by himself).

I now see it was T.J. Yancey who first used the quillion treatment and the thumb notches, not Al Mar (although for some reason my memory tells me Al had something to do with it).

I have also posted a photo of Fairbairn's design for an improved Smatchet--you can clearly see it bears no resemblance to the
"Applegate-Fairbairn" Smatchet.

You can also see the first Shanghai model, and two of Fairbairn's other designs--the Fairbairn-Millerson, and the Cobra.

(Jim's note: that post ends here...)


Subject: Clarifications on the Applegate-Fairbairn
Author: W. Cassidy

Let me preface the following by saying that I fell out of touch with Rex Applegate over twenty years ago. We were personal friends for several years, and he assisted me both professionally and financially. I thought highly of him, but Rex had a cruel streak that could (and did) give offense.

As he got on in years, he engaged in what I personally consider some rather wishful thinking. The last time I spoke with him was about four years ago, and the content of that conversation leads me to think his grasp on reality was faltering.

In any event, Rex is dead now and unable to defend or explain himself, and I do not wish to be discourteous to his memory. I mention the above only by way of disclosing the sub-text to my particular point of view.

In the 1970s, Rex hired me to do some work on a fighting knife. He had a prototype that had been made at the old Military Intelligence School at Camp Ritchie in around 1944 or 1945. It was basically a reconstructed F-S knife, but larger, and was meant to "beef up" the F-S concept. I went up to his lodge in Oregon to discuss the matter with him, and proximate to this, I also flew over to England to see John Fairbairn (W.E. Fairbairn's son).

When I got back to the states, I visited Rex again and while sitting in his den, I noticed a riot baton in the corner. He started explaining why he liked that baton, because of the grooves in the handle, and I then suggested to him that we adopt something similar for his fighting knife. He asked to see how that might work, so I sketched out a handle design almost identical to the one you see in the Boker production nowadays.

Rex didn't like it very much, and sketched out something different, so I went down to Los Angeles and got a shop I knew to put out a blade prototype. I then went up to the Bay Area, and asked Al Jayne, then a police officer with Alameda P.D., to run up a slightly different prototype. I had a woodworker named Alden Amos run up several prototype grip treatments, as well.

I took these up to Rex, and we fooled around with them for quite a while, and then we came down to San Francisco to see my business partner, Marc DeTristan. Bob Loveless was at that meeting, and Bob expressed some strong views on the grip issue.

The upshot of all this was that Rex didn't care for our approach, so he went his way and we went ours, up until the point where our collective design started to make more sense to him, and then he came full circle. The result was what you see today in the Boker model (although ours was double-edged, not the bayonet grind they put out for legal reasons).

Now, to call this an Applegate "Fairbairn" is to stretch the truth.

Fairbairn didn't have anything to do with it. He was long gone from the 'States when Rex had the shop at Camp Ritchie make the first prototype, and his own ideas for an improvement on the F-S were a far cry from Rex's ideas, as evidenced by the Fairbairn-Millerson design, and Fairbairn's own "Cobra" design for the Cyprus Police.

Rex incorporated Fairbairn into the project because he held Bill Fairbairn in very high regard, and he was always looking for ways to help Fairbairn's daughter, who by this time was a retired pensioner living in the South of England. I held similar ideals, so when I republished Fairbairn's books, I always used to send her royalties even though we had no legal requirement to do so. I therefore understand his thinking on the subject, and I consider it a noble gesture on his part.

Still, in the interest of historical accuracy, you must understand that the design of the so-called Applegate-Fairbairn was a collective effort by many, many different knife designers and knifemakers, each of whom made their own little contribution, and Fairbairn had nothing to do with it at all.

A few small points: the Boker A-F is flawed because you cannot orient the blade in the dark. The original design is double-edged. The quillion treatment is wrong (with all due deference to the late Al Mar who, I believe, is the author of that), and the serrations under the thumb and forefinger work against you, not for you. We had that issue managed with stippling or cross-hatching in those same areas, but I guess it was a production call.

If you want to come close to the "purest" state this design ever had, regrind the Boker blade as a double edge, use a straight guard, file off the thumb and forefinger serrations and sharply stipple (or cross-hatch) the resulting depression.

As it stands, Boker's Applegate knife (as I call it) is an expression of Rex's vision, because ultimately, it was the one he liked in production.

(this is a quote from a Cassidy post:
> >As it stands, Boker's Applegate knife (as I call it) is an expression of
> >Rex's vision, because ultimately, it was the one he liked in production.

Brian asks:
> Mr Cassidy
> That was a very interesting post.
> Have you written a book ?

Mr. Cassidy kicks in:

A few, here and there, also a few articles.

Complete Book of Knife Fighting, Basic Manual of Knife Fighting, Shanghai School, Knife Digest, American Blade, Guns & Ammo, Soldier of Fortune, etc., etc. Most of this stuff is out of print, and the editions that you
do find in print are knock-offs of the original editions for which I don't receive a dime in royalties.

And BTW...I just noticed that Boker did put out a double-edged grind very near to the original blade profile. I am informed that the so-called "utility" model Applegate knife, or the bayonet grind, is the one sold in preference because of legal issues.

You know, there are also a number of other Applegate knives around. I seem to recall he had a custom knifemaker run up several, and I know Al Mar did some things as well.

As to the A-F Smatchet, I have now seen this, and this is just the Applegate-favored grip on a version of the smatchet blade.

When you evaulate any alleged "Fairbairn" design, you have to remember that Fairbairn was heavily influenced by Chinese and other Asian edged weapon forms; these he preferred over the western forms. The sole exception to that rule is the F-S, which deliberately had a foil-type grip, and this was more in result of Sam Yeaton's contributions. I understand that Applegate and Yeaton's brother put out a little book about this a few years back, but I haven't read it (I understand that they
massage history quite a bit). I am relying strictly on my correspondence and conversations with Sam Yeaton, before he died, my conversations with Fairbairn's son, Fairbairn's own notes on knives and knifemaking, and also on correspondence with the family of Nick Solntseff, the Shanghai
Municipal Police armorer who made the first four knives. Anyway, with the exception of that weapon, all of Fairbairn's other designs show heavy Oriental influence.


Jim again. More to follow, stay tuned. Mr. Cassidy also asks that the websites of his NOT get mirrored or downloaded; he says he has enough resources to make sure they won't suddenly go away.

I believe him.

Just caught up on whats developed so far. I was rejected access all day and had to go to a friends system to get on here, I'm not banned or anything am I? Anyway, so far this is Very cool stuff. It's amazing what I've learned in just a day or two. Thanks for the updates Jim.

The Cobra fighting manual is really a treasure. I would like to know if any body has diagrams that correspond to the [fig.] in the slashing section of the manual. Most of it seems self explanatory, but it does become confusing at points.
Open wide, here comes more:

Notes on the exact connection Applegate had to the A/Fairbairn fighter; W. Cassidy original work:

(Note: this website as of today says "more to come")

Another work by Mr. Cassidy titled:

"A Brief History of the Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife"
Here's something cool.

(This is me talking; the first part of this post talked about copyright issues, confirming that these web-forum repeats of the UseNet posts are OK with him (and they are)...I then ask : )
> Second, is there any possibility of direct Ghurka and/or Kukri influence on
> the Cobra project? The similarity to an "extra skinny model Kukri" has been
> noted already by others without me ever mentioning it, and it's one of the
> first things I thought of.

Well, you do raise an interesting issue. Whilst in Shanghai, Fairbairn had direct command over the Sikh Brigade, and I know for a certainty he had contact with Gurkhas
as well.

His son told me that the idea was brewing for a good, long while and that it came to fruition in Cyprus, 1955-1956. Now, if I am not mistaken, the British were employing
some Gurkhas in riot control during the Cyprus Emergency so quite possibly that was the key.

The knife is, however, nothing like a Kukri...it is an entirely different profile. If anything, it is what I believe some people call a "Hawksbill" shape, but it has a very noticeable almost "T" cross section near the tang that extends in a taper down the blade.

Also, the two prototypes he had bear only slight resemblance to the blueprint. His son told me he didn't like the prototypes and that he couldn't find anybody in Britain who cared to help him. Disgusting, isn't it?
BTW... I did find one of the blueprints, but I cannot yet uncover the signed blueprint although I know I have it somewhere.
I also uncovered a lot of other prints, machinist's drawings, etc., including smatchet blue prints, several generations of A-F blueprints, F-S blueprints, and some of my own designs, etc. (More on this below)

To my knowledge, the Cyprus Police were the only people he ever directly trained with this knife. You have to remember that this was ten years after the war and most people
didn't have a clue who he was or what he was, so in consequence, most deprecated his efforts, thinking his design outlandish, whimsical, etc.

He became very discouraged by this because he felt he was right in view of the reasons I set forth in other posts.


Jim again. I've got to say that I disagree with Mr. Cassidy on one point above: I believe you can make a knife that can duplicate or even exceed a Khukuri's performance IN COMBAT if you deep-six utility use. It looks to me like that's what the Cobra was about, a "heavy smash" fighter capable of cleaving skull on an overhead strike. Did it LOOK like a Khukuri? No.

Did it act like one in a fight? My guess is, close enough! The Cobra couldn't skin game or hoe a field, but I doubt Mr. FairBairn was concerned by this.

Jim March
More Than Anybody Cares to Know About the Smatchet
UseNet rec.knives post by William Cassidy:

(Ed. note by Jim March: the "Smatchet" is a *huge* fat-bellied double-edge "dagger" of a knife. The last ones I know of were made under the Al Mar label and had a nickname of "Satan's pancake flipper". Blade length ran to 12" - 14" range, and 4"+ at the fattest point halfway between grip and tip.)

This is off the top of my head, so excuse minor lapses.

In May 1940 a secret submarine operation involving the landing of men on the Norwegian coast was launched by MI/R (Military Intelligence/Research), one of the two special warfare components that were later amalgamated into SOE. This op involved Brian Mayfield, who had been second in command of the ski battalion raised in December 1939 to fight in Scandanavia; Jim Gavin, one of the ski battalion's company commanders, and Bill Stirling. The op was a disaster, and the sub limped back to Scapa, running on the surface the whole way. To recuperate, the whole party went up to Bill Stirling's house in Scotland, and decided to start a training center for special ops, the War Office approved the plan, and this is how the Special Training Centre at Lochailort came into being. Spencer Chapman was the fieldcraft instructor there, Jim Gavin and Mad MIke Calvert were the demolition instructors, and Eric Anthony Sykes was the silent killing and close-quarter pistol instructor from about June 1940 on.

The smatchet was designed at Lochailort. The first ones were made in Glasgow by a man who was, by all accounts, a thoroughly insane Scot (he insisted that the blade be tempered in the piss of red-headed boys from Glasgow) and brought by train up to Ft. William. They were delivered to the local hotel (a nice place...I stayed there) and then sent out to Lochailort.

If you look in the big "H Series" books at Imperial War Museum in London, you will never see the smatchet without the F-S knife, leading us to believe they first turned up in the hands of the lads after the F-S knife.

Fairbairn redesigned the smatchet while at OSS and called it the "Fair Sword". There are two variations of the Fair Sword, both made at OSS Presentation by Mr. Millerson.

The OSS production smatchets were made by W.R. Case and Sons in two versions to UK design, one with walnut grips and one with black bakelite grips. There are five well known UK versions, in walnut and bakelite. I have also examined grips in oak, teak, mahogany, rubber; pommels in iron, alloy, brass, and aluminum. Scabbards are seen nylon, black leather, brown leather, wood covered by leather, canvas. WHen marked, they have the British "broad arrow" or broad arrow with number. One type is marked "MECo. 1942"

Fairbairn did not design the smatchet and neither did Sykes. It is based on the Welsh Machinegunner's Knife of World War I, as interpreted by the lads at Lochailort.

I LOVE smatchets. I've got a copy of the original blueprints. Anybody want to make me one? We could get the steel and the walnut right enough, but the piss of red-headed boys from Glasgow might make U.S. Customs ask questions.


Jim here. Since he's looking for a maker, I'm going to release his EMail address to the forums. He shows no sign of slowing down
and appears to be enjoying the well-earned stardom...but, let's try not to overload the guy?



Chas replied on the Smatchet thread:

Benvenuto Cellini mentions the urine of red-headed males as a 'necessary' in the foundry- the urine from the younger ones was used to either clean or patinate bronze (memory fails at this point)-

The machinegunners knife was an outgrowth, I believe, of the Welsh Fusiliers 'sword' designed by Lord Howard de Walton in the mid to late 19th cent. based on the Celtic cledd. This sort of sword dates back to bronze age times, as the shape is easy to cast and resists breakage even when left brittle.

Lord Howards' equipage was concomitant with the neo-romantic revivalist period of art that used Celtic imagery as the motif- he even had some of them engraved with the Welsh words for 'for the glory of Wales'- a great period for loonies; this is the time of the revival of Wicca (hearkening back to a best forgotten thread)

Chas - gryphons@worldnet.att.net
I'm overwhelmed.
This is better than Christmas.
I hope this will all be properly catalogued, and made available. Now this has come to light, it should get the audience it deserves.
(Note from Jim March: These next two posts are going out without comment, unedited and with taglines intact. It turns out Mr. Cassidy has a bit of a "grumpy streak" and while some of this may fall under the category of "personal attack", I feel it should be included if this is to be an "accurate historical chronical". Basically I feel that understanding Mr. Cassidy and his overall viewpoint is important to understanding *all* of his work...and, given the "dated nature" of his contacts his negative views should be seen as "what he felt back then". I hope the moderators will keep this in mind before chopping it up!)

Subject: Beneath the Cloak: Knives of the Spies
Author: W. Cassidy

The edged weapons of the world's intelligence agencies make a fascinating study.

I have been involved in such matters, off and on, for about thirty years.

The purpose of this post is not to address all aspects of that study; rather, to address the topic in specific terms.

One often hears that this or that fellow has "designed knives for CIA." This sort of assertion really needs to be evaluated with some considerable care.

To my certain knowledge, the CIA does not, institutionally, (a) issue edged weapons, (b) commission the design of edged weapons, (c) maintain an inventory of edged weapons, (d) care very much about the subject, if at all.

The game isn't played that way anymore.

It hasn't been played that way in long, long time.

The last time the organization did, institutionally, involve itself in the issue of edged weapons was circa the 1960s, and the last time the organization institutionally involved itself in the design of edged weapons was circa the 1950s.

The above is not to say that individual employees of the organization do not, from time to time, exercise personal initiative and have a little something done up for their own sense of well-being. This is like everything else... a fellow who happens to work for the organization and care about such matters has something done, and he shows it to his friends, and they want one, etc., etc.

To extrapolate such fringe contact into a claim of "work for CIA" is both pathetic and absurd. To permit such claims to become the subject of marketing postures for foreign-based manufacturing entities is quite simply disgraceful.

Robert W. Loveless made a considerable number of edged weapons to the personal preferences of individual organization officers and employees, and his activities in that regard span at least thirty years of which I am personally aware. If I had to sit down and think of somebody who has made more blades for spooks, agents of this or that, and other shadow-world denizens I could not begin to conjure another name. If, in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, collectors sometimes wondered about the long delay in receiving their drop-point hunter, let me go on record as saying it was probably because Bob would stop production and work for days without sleeping to get a knife done for a fellow scheduled to go overseas. He never made mention of this, he never publicized this, and he discouraged any talk of this with a shrug and change of subject.

Mr. Loveless did not need to do otherwise, because he makes knives.


Many years ago, I founded and edited the first American periodical to deal with what we used to call "the knife craze," i.e. Knife Digest. I subsequently followed American Blade founder Blackie Collins to become, for a time, the editor of that publication, as well. Through my publishing and writing efforts, I materially aided the careers of many knifemakers who are now regarded as the "legends" of the field, and helped found the odd little world (such as it is) that many more custom knifemakers now inhabit.

During the course of this effort I was always known (and often despised) for a candid, forthright tone.

[Personal aside... you think you guys fight amongst yourselves? Bob Loveless loaded up a S&W Centennial Model and took a shot at me once, whilst I was a guest in his house. Said I didn't deserve to live anymore, and then I had to sit up all night with my Czech 75, out in a trailer, waiting for him to either calm down or start aiming. I couldn't bring myself to shoot back at the old rascal because, like I said, I was a guest and I do believe strong drink might've been involved.]

Anyay, all this was a long time ago, when I much younger. I am so sorry if I offended anyone. I am also so sorry that time has not changed my voice, nor age increased my diplomacy, and with that in mind, kindly permit me to offer the following comments....

Somebody needs to tell Boker to knock off the bull****.

And now I'm going to tell Bud Nealy something.

Mr. Nealy, I knew Bob Loveless.

Mr. Nealy, you are no Bob Loveless.

I do not know who you are talking to, Mr. Nealy. I do not know what they said, and I do not know what you think you heard. I can only assure you, Mr. Nealy, that I would not take a single one of your designs past the kitchen, much less to any fragrant, foreign clime you care to mention, with intent to defend myself or injure another.

It's a confidence issue, eh Mr. Nealy? Or maybe a confidence game?


I feel so much better now.


Now that Never-Never Land is secure from the ravages of Captain Hook, perhaps we Lost Boys can turn to happier pursuits. I only want to mention, as a parting shot, that if anybody wants to play rough, I will be forced to fire up my scanner and post on the web some artifacts that will make many a cheek grow red.


The real action in SEW (Special Edged Weapons, for the uninitiated) has, for the past few decades been with the special operations community. Here we do find institutional interest, here we do find contract design work, and here we do find (most thankfully) a few shops with budget enough to actually go into production.

More about that if anybody gives a damn. I know that racket like the back of my hand.

"W.L.Duckworth once exuberantly exclaimed that if Neanderthal man entered a bar in modern dress the majority would not notice him. One marvels at the sort of person Duckworth drank with."
- R. Miller


Subject: That sonuvabitch A.G. Russell
Author: W. Cassidy

I was down at A.G. Russell's house, after a Kansas City Show, and A.G. gives me a massive folder from a now "legendary" knifemaker who shall here go nameless.

A.G. says, "Flick that damn thing open, Bill...this guy is the best folder maker on the planet."

So I flick the damn thing and half cut off my right index finger cause the guy's lock failed in service.

A.G. is fit to be tied.

He drags me down to the hospital, to his personal doctor, and his personal doctor says "No way we can save that trigger finger, son. I'm gonna close the amputation and I want you to be brave."

I look at A.G. and I say, "Go get me a Lear, because Gomer is giving me a headache and I gotta uplift right now."

Long pause while he tries.

A.G.: "We can't get a Lear in here. We got weather. They won't do it."

I just look at him. As I recall, it was a sad, baleful, defeated, hound-dog sort of look.

A.G. rents an airplane, sobers up a pilot (his money is now spilling faster than my blood), and sends his son (who has a tremendous heart) with me through the worst goddamn storm you ever saw up to the University of Kansas where a Doc who had just finished lecturing on hand injuries at the Kansas City Show re-attaches my trigger finger to the rest of my hand.

(A.G.'s son was, in fact, out of this world. He says to me, "Is this what you meant when you talked about illusion?")

The K.C. doc is outstanding. Before he puts me to sleep, he asks, "How do you want to wake up?"

I am trying to be a smart-ass, so I say, "I want the best-looking nurse in the hospital to be there and tell me...'Hi, baby. You're in Kansas City. It doesn't matter which one. I'm your nurse, you're doing fine, and when you get better I'm going to sleep with you."

I wake up out of surgery, and an extremely fine-looking young thing in starched white says to me:

"Hi, baby. You're in Kansas City. It doesn't matter which one. I'm your nurse, you're doing fine, and when you get better I'm going to sleep with you."

She put her heart into it.

Right away I knew it was scripted, but she put her heart into it.

I also fully realized that this Doc was Hell on Wheels.

To make a long story longer, I check out against medical advice, rent a car and drive non-stop with A.G.'s boy to Illinois, where I collapse in shock and the Illinois State Police takes me to a local hospital.

Now I am in the local hospital, getting a bath from a Nun, and I hear A.G.'s son explaining himself on a telephone:

"Daddy, he's in the bathtub with a nun, we got State Police all over the place, there's some officer from the government in here trying to take control but he won't give his name, there's some Hippy from San Francisco telling him to calm down, and they just rented a jet to fly some girl from Indiana over here. They're saying she was his girlfriend when he was eight years old, but his wife is on the other line wanting to know what's going on and I don't know what to tell her."

Somebody hands me a phone, and it is A.G.

A.G.: "Are you dying?"

Me: "Nope, I'm having a bath."

A.G.: "Bill, stop fooling around and send my son back. You're a bad influence on him."

I am sending this old memory out on the bandwidth like a leaf tossed on the wind to let some people know how much I still love them.
Dredging this up from the depths for any newbies 'cuz it's just TOO cool.

The URLs noted above are DOWN at the moment. Efforts are being made to see if the info is available anywhere, stay tuned for details.

The "Cobra" knife mentioned above was a "Giant Hawksbill", it had a 12 or so blade and a fairly gentle forward hook plus some "back edge". The Laci Szabo Jaws4 is as close as I've seen, but that's only a 6" blade...the Cobra had massive "smashing/ripping" power and could also stab extremely well.

Jim March
This is a thoroughly fascinating thread. The "mad bladesmith" involved in the Smatchet may be Angus Learmont.Does anyone have anymore information on the Fairbairn manual, or, been in recent contact with Mr Cassidy? His websites seen to be discontinued.

So far, nothing...a couple of people tried to EMail Bill a few days ago and I haven't heard anything back.

Unbelievable stuff, no?

Unbelievable stuff! It's such a cool piece of history.

I remember when this hit rec.knives. Fascinating stuff.

Thanks for bringing it here Jim.