Rare Gems

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Very nice! But now you have me questioning my assessment of that eBay Silver Moose. The black-bladed model in your photos certainly appears to have a san mai blade. It makes me wonder if IC Cut was responsible for introducing Lynn to the possibility of production san mai cutlery steel.
-Steve

I suppose that is possible. Were these Shinobu/Clipmates offered by CS earlier than the San Mai Master Tanto? That was the first SM CS knife I became aware of.
 
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I suppose that is possible. Were these Shinobu/Clipmates offered by CS earlier than the San Mai Master Tanto? That was the first SM CS knife I became aware of.

Yes, I believe the folders preceded the introduction of the Master Tanto, even the unmarked version of the Master Tanto. The Shinobus were released in 1986 (see the ad in my post #87 in the Tanto history thread), and, to the best of my knowledge, they only ever possessed San Mai III blades.

The original nine-inch-bladed Magnum Tantos, as well as the other new fixed blades shown in that 1986 ad, were released in 400 Series Stainless, with no mention of San Mai III. (Refer to the ads in my post #44 in this thread: https://www.bladeforums.com/threads...-identify-knives.1634467/page-3#post-18702286.)

I think the use of San Mai III first appeared in the Shinobus and then later (even if it was just a short time afterward) in the unmarked Master Tanto.


-Steve
 
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While it adds nothing new, I also think that the Shinobus were only San Mai III. I've come across them in MUCH greater number and frequency than I have the other primordial Cold Steel products. Not a single Shinobu I've seen had a mono-steel blade (ditto for the Clipmates of course).

Is their core steel also the vague "400 Series Stainless"?
 
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The question in my mind, assuming for a moment that the Shinobu/Clip Mate was the first San Mai knife offered by Cold Steel, is whether any other knife company was even offering a San Mai construction knife in the US at the time.

My belief has been that all Cold Steel San Mai blades have been Aus8 core until 2007 when VG1 core was introduced.
 
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You guys and your questions...driving me to research my archives (which I actually love doing)! OK, here's what I know.

This ad, displaying the new 1986 offerings, was in use by April 1986.

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The new knives were the mini fixed blades, the Magnum Tanto, and the Shinobus. The Outdoorsman was already available in 1985.

The Shinobus were the first folders, and all three sizes had San Mai III blades when they were initially introduced. The Clip Mates weren't released until 1987, along with the Trail Master. The smallest Clip Mate was only offered with a 400 Series Stainless blade, while the medium and large sizes had San Mai III blades. I believe they later changed the Shinobus to this steel arrangement, switching the small blade to 400 Series.

The earliest mention of the Master Tanto that I can find is February 1986, though the article does not refer to the knife's San Mai III blade, oddly enough.

By April 1986, the Master Tanto and the Imperial Tanto (constructed of Damascus San Mai III) had been released. In none of the earliest photographs depicting a Master Tanto is the blade labeled as such.

I discovered that this catalog/brochure, the earliest on the Cold Steel Web site, has been mislabeled.

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It is NOT from 1988, but rather from 1986. Look closely and you'll see that it contains 1986's knives, but nothing later. It doesn't even show the Imperial Tanto. The catalog mentions the Master Tanto, but says that a Master Tanto is not pictured. It does contain a photo and callout of the Master Tanto's San Mai III blade, however.

So what does all this boil down to? I think that around 1985 (perhaps earlier) Lynn discovered Japanese san mai steel construction. He patented the San Mai III formula and introduced it very early in 1986 on the unlabeled Master Tanto and on the Shinobus, followed shortly afterward in Damascus form on the Imperial Tanto.

As for Ken's question about other san mai offerings in the U.S., there were none that I know of, other than Mora's laminated blades, which were of course from Sweden and only referred to as "laminated." The first non-Cold Steel knife with a san mai blade that I remember was Al Mar's Shiva, and I believe that was offered after 1986. As far as I know, Lynn Thompson introduced san mai to modern America.


-Steve

P.S. - jencarlos, nothing that I found identified the steel composition of the original San Mai III. "400 Series Stainless" probably covered several stainless steels with which Lynn was experimenting, trying to discover the best performer from the best manufacturer. But a 1985 ad identifies the Tanto's blade as 425 stainless at 56-58 Rockwell C.
 
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Steve,
Thanks for your extensive examination. I too am of the belief that San Mai construction in knives, both folders and fixed, was effectively unknown in the US prior to Cold Steel's introduction. Of course the laminated process was already in use by Scandinavian companies and individual knife makers but Cold Steel made it widely known.
Ken
 
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Wasn't the Ultra Lock licensed to CS for a fee? Benchmade or Spyderco I think. or not.

nephron, you posted this inquiry a while ago and my answer at the time, it turns out, was incorrect and you were right. I was sorting some of my knives yesterday and discovered a sticker on the Recon 1 box that I had never noticed before. In addition to pursuing its own patents, Cold Steel did indeed license part of Benchmade's Axis design for the Ultra Lock.

IMG-1181.jpg



Sorry for the bad information!


-Steve
 

nephron

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nephron, you posted this inquiry a while ago and my answer at the time, it turns out, was incorrect and you were right. I was sorting some of my knives yesterday and discovered a sticker on the Recon 1 box that I had never noticed before. In addition to pursuing its own patents, Cold Steel did indeed license part of Benchmade's Axis design for the Ultra Lock.

IMG-1181.jpg



Sorry for the bad information!


-Steve
If I had a dime for every time I......no worries, appreciate the clarification, a lot people of wouldn't take the time or admit it.
Thanks,
Steve
 

Your Name Goes Here

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GREAT information - thanks to all.

My question is - When was the 1st year of the Trail Mate, and also how many years produced ? I believe the Trail Mate is just a name change for the Clip Mate.

*[EDIT - See Post # 110. The Trail Mate name was changed to Clip Mate]

I have a Medium Trail Mate - San Mai blade, Black Box, with Sheath. Side of box reads - "30CM TRAIL MATE MEDIUM 1 PC." Other than the name Trail Mate on the box, the knife is exactly the same as a Medium Clip Mate.

I have a 1988 Cutlery World magazine/catalog which lists the "Medium Trailmate Folder w/sheath". Yes, "Trailmate" is one word in the text. Also pictured is a "Small Trailmate", shows a keyring attached. There is No mention of a Large Trail Mate.

TIMELINE

1986 Shinobu released - first Cold Steel folder

1987 Trail Mate released - first Cold Steel Clip Point folder (Name changed to Clip Mate in 1987)

1987 Clip Mate released - first Cold Steel Clip Point folder; Version 2 (Name changed from Trail Mate)
 
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GREAT information - thanks to all.


My question is - When was the 1st year of the Trail Mate, and also how many years produced ? I believe the Trail Mate is just a name change for the Clip Mate.


I have a Medium Trail Mate - San Mai blade, Black Box, with Sheath. Side of box reads - "30CM TRAIL MATE MEDIUM 1 PC." Other than the name change on the box, the knife is exactly the same as a Medium Clip Mate.


I have a 1988 Cutlery World magazine/catalog which lists the "Medium Trailmate Folder w/sheath". Yes, "Trailmate" is one word in the text. Also pictured is a "Small Trailmate", shows a keyring attached. There is No mention of a Large Trail Mate.


TIMELINE (please correct me if wrong)


1986 Shinobu released - first Cold Steel folder


1987 Clip Mate released - first Cold Steel Clip Point folder ?


? 1988 Trail Mate released (Listed as Trailmate in a 1988 Cutlery World magazine/catalog)


You've got a rare one there! The Clip Mates were originally released as the Trail Mates in 1987. It made sense to do so. The new bowie that year was called the Trail Master, so a natural name for the new clip-point folders would be the Trail Mates.

But there was a problem with that plan. Also in 1987, Buck Knives released this, its Model 602, named the Trailmate.

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I'm not sure which knife was first. I've seen auction write-ups claiming 1986 Buck Trailmates, but haven't found any verification of that date. It doesn't really matter, though. Back in 1987, Cold Steel wasn't going to win any trademark registration claims against Buck Knives, that's for sure.

The Trail Mates were changed to the Clip Mates before the year was out. Since the name wasn't printed on the blades, it was as simple as re-labelling the boxes. I'm fairly certain your 1988 Cutlery World brochure just hadn't been updated with the name change. Despite what the brochure lists, all three sizes of Trail Mates were offered from the outset.


-Steve
 

Your Name Goes Here

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You've got a rare one there! The Clip Mates were originally released as the Trail Mates in 1987. It made sense to do so. The new bowie that year was called the Trail Master, so a natural name for the new clip-point folders would be the Trail Mates.

But there was a problem with that plan. Also in 1987, Buck Knives released this, its Model 602, named the Trailmate.

I'm not sure which knife was first. I've seen auction write-ups claiming 1986 Buck Trailmates, but haven't found any verification of that date. It doesn't really matter, though. Back in 1987, Cold Steel wasn't going to win any trademark registration claims against Buck Knives, that's for sure.

The Trail Mates were changed to the Clip Mates before the year was out. Since the name wasn't printed on the blades, it was as simple as re-labelling the boxes. I'm fairly certain your 1988 Cutlery World brochure just hadn't been updated with the name change. Despite what the brochure lists, all three sizes of Trail Mates were offered from the outset.

-Steve

Steve - thank you for this great info ! Much appreciated. I edited my post above based on your knowledge. Do you know if the Trail Mate is the first Cold Steel - Clip Point - folder ?
 
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For quite a while I've been searching for an early, Neoprene-handled Urban Skinner. I was blessed to buy one at Blade Show this year and thought I'd share it with you guys. It's not in the best shape after forty years, but I was very grateful to find one at all, and it's even the earliest version with the name printed on the blade. I'd never seen one in person before this one.

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This one isn't a revelation, as nephron nephron has graciously shared pictures of his Japanese Oyabuns in the past. But it is the rarer 7.5-inch-bladed version, and who doesn't want to see more of those? What a great design and a beautiful blade! If the folks at GSM Cold Steel are smart, they'll bring this one back.

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Happy Thanksgiving, all! I'm very thankful for everyone on Blade Forums who has taught me volumes about my knife hobby that I simply wouldn't have learned otherwise, particularly within this Cold Steel subforum.


-Steve
 

jlauffer

Tempt not the Blade
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Think this is only the 2nd Urban Hunter I've ever seen


And look how much this Intruder Bowie went foršŸ˜²

 
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Think this is only the 2nd Urban Hunter I've ever seen


And look how much this Intruder Bowie went foršŸ˜²

Awesome, and thank you for sharing these! Those are the first photos I've ever seen of an Urban Hunter outside of an ad. The price for the Intruder Bowie was pretty outrageous, though I can see a movie collector paying top dollar if the claim about its being a gift from Milius is backed up with genuine documentation. I wonder how many Intruder Bowies Milius owned?

By the way, I don't care too much because we all benefit from shared information here. But do you guys ever get the feeling that our research on this subforum on rare Cold Steel knives is being used fairly frequently to inflate the prices of Cold Steel knife auctions? I think a lot of people wouldn't have any idea what they were selling (or buying, for that matter) without our efforts!


-Steve
 
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The Urban Hunter is so rare that the pics of it are also very rare.

This might be the first time I've seen what they actually looked like.

The pic in the old "Soldier of Fortune" ads was just a thumbnail and a very bad pic at that.

I just figured that it was a single-edged version of the Urban Shiv.
 

nephron

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By the way, I don't care too much because we all benefit from shared information here. But do you guys ever get the feeling that our research on this subforum on rare Cold Steel knives is being used fairly frequently to inflate the prices of Cold Steel knife auctions? I think a lot of people wouldn't have any idea what they were selling (or buying, for that matter) without our efforts!


-Steve
Absolutely! I have seen ads with the exact same verbiage as used on here. All you have to do is plug it into Google and you get everything including threads/posting from Blade Forum's. It has changed radically since I started actively buying CS years ago, no one had a clue, now sellers want ridicoulus prices some times(not even sure where they come up with the price sometimes).
 
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Absolutely! I have seen ads with the exact same verbiage as used on here. All you have to do is plug it into Google and you get everything including threads/posting from Blade Forum's. It has changed radically since I started actively buying CS years ago, no one had a clue, now sellers want ridicoulus prices some times(not even sure where they come up with the price sometimes).
Yep, I've seen multiple auction write-ups that included some of the language from John's history threads. Our own research is being used to drive up the prices of the knives we want!

Turnabout is fair play, I guess. Since the auction is over and the model is so scarce, hopefully no one will mind if I pull some pictures of the Urban Hunter for reference here. Full credit for the photos goes to the eBay seller.

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Variations exist even of this rare model, however. I just discovered the below Pinterest image, which clearly shows a spear-point blade grind, a completely different handle configuration, and a bead-blasted finish. Based on the ads I've seen, I believe that the eBay Urban Hunter is the first generation and this is an offering from the new manufacturer used after late 1982.

IMG-3209.jpg


_____________________________________

I forgot to post this picture from last year's Blade Show. Cold Steel donated two specially etched AD-15s to the Knife Rights auction.

IMG-0050-photo.jpg



-Steve
 

jlauffer

Tempt not the Blade
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Eureka, I've found Excalibur! Well, I've found the Cold Steel version of Excalibur, anyway!

Ladies and gentlemen, while at a show this weekend I was blessed to purchase what I believe to be among the rarest Cold Steel knives in existence. I'm talking about an original Cold Steel Tanto, one of the guardless models that we've been wondering and inquiring about ever since Mr. Lauffer posted this ad that ran in the January 1982 issue of Guns magazine.


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Yes, one of those Tantos!

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The provenance is solid, too. I bought the knife from a very reputable dealer liquidating the collection of a recently deceased man who was known by the dealer to be a good friend of Lynn Thompson and who had purchased a number of knives from Lynn back in the 1980s and 1990s. I bought several other knives from this collection that were undeniably early Cold Steel, including the original Kraton-handled Tanto that you see in these pictures for scale/comparison.

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While it's unfortunate that the original owner is no longer alive to answer questions about the knife, at least I can offer a few facts now in addition to these photos. The blade is 6 1/8-inches long and 3/16ths-inch thick. The knife is 10 3/4-inches overall and full tang. The handle is black Micarta with brass pins and lanyard tube. The knife is entirely unmarked. The sheath, also unmarked, is very well made and clearly demonstrates the Cold Steel construction style that would be used later on the Kraton Tanto sheath.

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This photo demonstrates the decorative pattern that the Tanto sheath shares with that found on the contemporaneous Urban Shiv sheath.

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I honestly never thought that I would see one of these knives, let alone find one available for purchase. I'm very excited to be able to share it with you!

_____________________________

Let me see if I can further wow you with another remarkably rare gem that I bought from the same collection. This is an entirely unmarked Urban Shiv prototype.


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As you can see, it's definitely an Urban Shiv, but I have no idea why it's so different from the final version of the knife, shown here for comparison.

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In addition to the differences in blade finish, note the similarities and slight differences in the sheath construction.

These are not my photos, but the knife depicted below is the only other Urban Shiv I've seen with a skeletonized blade. It also is described as a prototype, yet bears the "Urban Shiv" marking and possesses a tan leather version of the final adjustable sheath design.


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The dealer from whom I purchased my prototype speculated that mine might be a proof-of-concept version that the maker constructed for Lynn to see just how lightweight he could make the knife through skeletonization and that perhaps it proved weak or uncomfortable. The "production version" (I'm pretty sure all of the Urban Shivs were hand made) is much more comfortable in the hand, so this seems as likely an explanation as any.


Happy Easter! (Luke 24:5)

-Steve
One thing I just noticed when I posted this pic for another (humorous) purpose, is that the tanto Lynn is holding has no guard, so would presumably be one of the OG unicorns like you found. Never noticed that before.

XPqFhVA.jpg
 
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I'm glad that this thread came back up, as it reminded me of a couple of eBay rarities that I've observed and have been meaning to share.

Someone recently sold an orange-handled ER1. Outside of a catalog, I'd never seen photos of the genuine article before.

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__________________________________________


This unusual OSS was listed a while ago. The seller said it was purchased directly from Cold Steel headquarters in Ventura and he was told it was a prototype when he bought it. The write-up highlighted the major differences in the sheath, the sterile blade, and several subtle design variations that differ from the final version. The fact that the lanyard tube wasn't finished, making the handle removable, leads me to believe that this knife was purchased at a Parking Lot Sale, not from the showroom.

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-Steve
 
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