A trip to the Smoky Mountain Gun Collector’s Assn. show

Sometimes our posts are enlightening and chock full of information. Sometimes they are just a collection of photos of cool knives. This post is the latter. Some of what I saw today is going to lead to follow up posts. In particular I hope to do a “Know Your Knives” post about ring-lock knives, two cool examples of which I had a chance to see today. I got to see Walter Brend again and ask him some more questions to round out his upcoming 5 from the Grinder post. There was plenty more as well, but tonight it is going to be pictures of cool knives.

I met Mike Crenshaw through Ethan Becker. He is the one who connected me with both Walter and with Stephan Fowler, the contestant on Forged in Fire from last week. He also is on the Board of the Smoky Mountain Gun Collector’s Association, who is holding a gun and knife show in  Knoxville this weekend. He offered to introduce me to some folks and show me some cool blades, and I was happy to let him.

If anyone is in the Knoxville area, the show will be running Sunday (1/22/17) from 9 to 5. Tell Mike I sent you and say hello. Details at the link.

Unlike a big show that is mostly tables of people reselling new-in-box modern firearms (though there were some), most were collectors, and the items for sale tended to have more collectible and historically significant firearms and knives.

I mentioned ring-lock knives above. It is a style I don’t know too much about other than it is a style dating back several hundred years to the invention of spring-steel. Before that, the same blade and handle design were made as a friction folder, going back several hundred more years. Both the examples Mike showed me were interesting but the larger one was made in Germany pre-WWII and ended up in the hands of a Japanese soldier in the Pacific. It was brought home as a war-prize by an American G.I., but still bears Japanese characters which were etched into the handle. According to a friend who is fluent, it appears to be a family name, likely the owner who lost it.

Speaking of Japanese Blades, another vendor had two Japanese swords. The first was an NCO “Factory Sword”, that is a mass-produced katana style with a metal handle, and unlike a silk-wrapped family sword it is not a particularly fine weapon. I’d still be happy to have one in my collection though.

The other Japanese sword was a Police Officer’s sword. It was a symbol of rank, not sharp, but it was a cool mix of western and Japanese styling. The blade is a classic European gentleman’s sword, but the handle features an Imperial Chrysanthemum and brightly painted details.


While I am talking swords, there was also what is known as a “Dog River” sword. “Dog River” is the name given to unmarked, locally-made swords used by Confederate soldiers. This example is a light cavalry saber, and would have had a leather wrap over the wooden handle.


There was an Argentinian Bayonet of German Manufacture, which looks an awful lot like my Chassepot bayonet, except this one has an aluminum handle rather than brass.


One of the rarer knives I saw was a large KA-BAR Grizzly automatic. It may not look like it would be worth a couple of thousand dollars, but it is a rare pre-Federal Switchblade Act example of a non-stiletto auto. I saw several old automatics, and had an in-depth discussion with Mike about different release mechanisms, which will be the topic of a future post.

A grooming knife, for the discerning beard-enthusiast.


As I mentioned I had a chance to talk to Walter Brend again. He greeted me like an old friend and showed me a few knives I didn’t see at his house. Including a nice neck knife.


There was more, but it is getting late. I posted most of the best. If I have a chance I will go back and update with a few more tomorrow.



  1. knightofbob says:

    I’ve got a couple of those Japanese NCO swords, and mine are much cruder than that, I figure they’re probably last-ditch manufacture. The edges are also ground off quite carelessly (I’m guessing by the Japanese, pre-surrender).

    Also, I’m either completely out of touch with the bayonet market (very likely, given past history) or that Argentine blade is priced way too high.

    In awe of that Ka-Bar, though. Definitely one I’ve never seen.

    1. I agree that yours were probably de-milled. Was the Chrysanthemum obliterated? You can see this one has an intact one on the pommel.

      1. knightofbob says:

        Unfortunately, mine are currently packed away, and I’m not sure which box they’re in. I know at least one of them had someone go to town on the pommel with a grinder. I think the other one is intact aside from the edge.

  2. The bayonet was in really nice condition. IIRC my earlier French Chassepot fetched about $200 in fine condition, more with a scabbard. What is funny is that at the time, aluminum would not have been an inexpensive material. But it might be a bit steep. The day’s of the $5 Barrel o’ Bayonets at the Army-Navy store have gone the way of the $50 Mosin Nagant though.

    The KABar was neat. In really good condition with a reasonably lively spring.

    1. knightofbob says:

      My dad has one of those Argentine bayonets, from the very Army-Navy source you mention. His is in very nice shape, with scabbard and frog. Last time he considered selling it, he couldn’t get an offer more than $25-$30. Not that long ago, I got him one of the early sawback Swiss bayonets for his K31, and thought I was paying up for it at $80, but figured near-mint with frog was worth it. Now, I see them pop up here and there in rough shape, usually missing the scabbard, for hundreds. I clearly don’t know the market, or I would have bought two.

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A trip to the Smoky Mountain Gun Collector’s Assn. show

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