Monday, April 13, 2020

Treasures in the Drawer

I’m settled in for the next week at home.  I was cleaning a drawer and guess what?  I found two knifes I had almost forgotten about.

It was 1990 and I was reading Larry Niven’s Protector.  Larry represented the changes we experience in old age, due to a missing environmental agent, as an incomplete transformation to a superior being.  One of the attributes was skin so tough, so armored it could turn a bronze knife.  I wanted a bronze knife, but even bronze was expensive on my budget.

The bronze has tarnished a bit and it isn't very sharp, but at one time this was atomic bomb of the era

I was also interested in the Spanish navaja.  These are classic Spanish folding fighting and utility knives.  The classic knife used a set of pinion teeth which when opened produce a characteristic clicking sound.  Hence the nickname in some quarters, of cucaracha or cockroach.  Navajas came in many sizes and the larger ones were used for dueling.  It was said the sound of this knife opening in the darkness would make a brave man blanch.  Pretty cool, yes? 

Small navaja
Atlanta Cutlery made museum quality replicas and sold other knives as well.  Their catalog is part of a select group of magazines I call knife porn.  The color photos were great, as were descriptions of hard to find knives.  I used to dog ear pages to find my favorites faster.  Prices lists were the worst part.  One 1990 dollar had the purchasing power of $2.00 today.  

Still I found what I wanted: a small 1.75 inch bronze blade folder and a 3 inch blade navaja.

They originally had a ring attached to the pivot to open the lock.  that evolved in to the little metal tab.

The bronze bladed knife was described as a sandalwood folder costing $27 and the navaja priced in at $16.95.

I never used either.  Everyone swapped out their bronze weapons as soon as iron became available and even with the problem of rusting they were happy to do so.  I keep my bronze knife in a little caddy with cuff links.  It really belonged on a pocket watch chain.

The navaja was a disappointment.  Despite being made in Spain, it didn’t have the click and clacking noise I was interested in.  It too, doesn’t have a maker’s mark.

While now as a collector I am happy to own them, at the time it was one of many little lessons that wanting is sometimes better than owning.

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