About my new old knife

Back story

Sometime in my childhood, I had a small, bowie-style sheath knife with a compressed leather handle and an aluminium pommel. I think Uncle Freddie may have given it to me, against Gran’s wishes; though I may be doing Sheila and Frank Gill a disservice with a false memory. Frank did have a shotgun and hence may have been interested in such things; what better gift to ingratiate yourself with a new, seven-year-old stepson? Anyway, I was fond of it and took it out on walks, stripping birch bark and whittling sticks. No real purpose for such a fine tool ever revealed itself, though, so I lost interest to the point where I think I traded it for something and for the good favour of the trader. Another vague recollection says it may have been Keith, on the caravan-site at Great Bar, which would be nice because we didn’t part the best of friends because I was an idiot.

About two years ago, I missed my knife and determined to find another one day soon. Then, as part of the serendipity surrounding my move to Warland Farm, I found the knife’s sibling in the gun cabinet in the dairy. It was so similar to mine that, when I showed it to Chris he said, “You’ve had that knife forever!”.

I presume it was Ralph’s or a gift from Ralph to Ashley. Whichever, they left it behind along with many other items that now grace my personal kit. Added to that, the farm work gives me lots of reasons to use the knife.


The knife was in good order with just some surface rust on the blade and general dirtiness. After rubbing with a few grades of steel wool, its quality began to emerge; especially when the cutler’s touch mark allowed me to track down its maker.

I sharpened the blade on a stone and cleaned it with Brasso on a cork. A final sharpen on the kitchen steel seemed to bite hard and has cleaned up the edge well. The sheath was missing its fastener but I found one at a leather-craft suppliers and now, restored by lanolin, the whole affair sits modestly at my belt.

The Maker

William Rodgers was first established in 1830 when they commenced business in a small factory in Mowbray Street, Sheffield.

In 1841, as their name and reputation as fine cutlers grew, they were forced to relocate to larger premises in New Church Street in the centre of Sheffield.

During 1852 William Rodgers again relocated; this time to St.Thomas Street where they continued their business until its acquisition by John Clarke during the 1870’s. John Clarke continued to manufacture knives under the William Rodgers name – and their famous motto ‘I Cut My Way’ – until John Clarke ceased trading in 1983.

It was around this time that the company of William Rodgers was acquired by Egginton Bros Ltd of Allen Street, Sheffield who, whilst upholding the centuries old tradition of Sheffield knifemaking, continue to manufacture the William Rodgers knives today using only the most experienced craftsmen and the finest materials available.

William Rodgers are synonymous with superior quality knives and of the few remaining manufacturers of the Fairbairn Sykes knife, they are the only company in the world that supply the British Ministry of Defence with the FS dagger. Manufactured to current and stringent MoD military specifications, William Rodgers has taken the Fairbairn Sykes Commando Dagger into the 21st. Century.

Comment on similar knife on forum

This style of sheath is 1940s or later. The knife is probably 1950s or a bit later. The type-style of the ricasso marking is post WWII, as is the sloppy way it was applied.

That looks to be a fish scaler back, not a saw. Dates back before 1900. Saw backs were used on German and Swiss bayonets before and during WWI.

Red and black spacer material on sheath knives is usually vulcanized fibre = hard rubber reinforced with some sort of fabric. Micarta is phenolic resin (a very strong thermosetting plastic) reinforced with some sort of fabric, or paper.

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