Excellent Colonial USN Mk1 Knife & Scabbard
- Product Code: EWSK-1624
- Availability: Out Of Stock
This is an about EXCELLENT condition example of the USN Mark 1 Fighting Utility Knife, manufactured by the Colonial Cutlery Company. The USN Mark 1 knife was produced by a variety of manufactures during World War II and was issued to Navy personnel by the thousands. The USN Mk1 was probably produced in more variations in hilt design and composition, blade finish and by more makers than any other US knife during World War II. The knives were manufactured by Boker, Camillus, Colonial, Geneva Forge, Pal, Robeson, Union Cutlery (KA-BAR) and Western. Knife collector, researcher, dealer and author Bill Walters has identified more than 70 variations of the USN Mk1, produced by the eight makers listed above, with Union Cutlery producing some 18 different variants of the knife!
In general, the USN Mk1 had a nominally 5 ¼” long blade and was patterned after typical hunting and side knives of the era. The subsequent Mark 2 version of the knife had a longer 7” blade. According to Bill Walters’ research, Colonial produced six variants of the USN Mk1. All had molded plastic grips, and Colonial was the only Mk1 maker to use this grip material. Colonial only used two blade finishes, either bright or Parkerized. The variations are based upon the blade finish, type of blade markings (or their absence) and the hilt color and shape. While the large majority of Colonial USN Mk1 knives had black plastic handles, sterile variants with bright blades are known with light tan and ox blood (maroon) hilts. The other four variations all used black material for the grip, although at least three variations in hilt shape are noted. Walters further notes three scabbard variations that were used with Colonial knives as well. Two types of leather scabbards that were produced by A.L. Siegal and Mosser, respectively, with the Siegal made scabbard marked U.S.N. and the Mosser scabbard unmarked. The third scabbard type was the commonly encountered composite scabbard produced by Beckwith Manufacturing that saw exclusive use during the last two years of the war and well into the post-WWII period.
The knife offered here is classified as variant #1 by Walters. It has the standard black plastic grip with elongated oval pommel. It is marked MARK I over COLONIAL in two lines on the obverse ricasso and U.S.N. on the reverse ricasso. The knife measures 9 7/8” in overall length with a 5 1/8” single-edged clip-point blade that has as 2 ¼” false edge. The molded black plastic hilt is 4 11/16” in overall length with nine grasping grooves. The knife is contained in an A.L. Siegal scabbard that is marked U.S.N. at the throat.
The Colonial Knife Company was founded in 1926 by three brothers; Antonio, Dominic and Frederick Paolantonio. The firm was established in Providence, RI and remains in business there to this day, where it remains a family run business. The three brothers all had careers that “honed” their skills at knife making, prior to establishing the company. Antonio had served as a blacksmith with the US cavalry during WWI and upon his return had started the A. Paolantonio Cutlery Company that specialized in knives for the jewelry industry. Dominic had worked as a foreman at the Empire Knife Company in Meridian, CT and Frederick had been a department head at the Imperial Knife Company, which was also located in Providence, RI. The firm’s initial products were pocketknives that they produced to such a high level of quality that they offered a lifetime warranty; a warranty still offered by the company to this day. When World War II erupted, Colonial answered the call by producing the USN Mark I “Deck Knife” as well as a Navy Pilot’s survival knife and a number of folding knives that saw at least some military service. Additionally, Antonio served on the War Production Board in Washington, overseeing the allocation of raw materials to the cutlery industry. In more modern times, the firm became known for offered “private label” knives for large customers like Smith & Wesson, Colt, Winchester and the Boy Scouts of America, just to name a few. Today the Colonial Knife Company is a registered brand of Colonial Cutlery International, with all Colonial Knife Company marked products being made exclusively in the USA.
The knife is in EXCELLENT condition, with the blade retaining about 90%+ of its original blackish-gray parkerized finish. The blade shows only some light finish wear and minor scuffing from insertion and removal from the leather scabbard. There is some lightly scattered surface oxidation and discoloration, particularly in the recesses of the stampings on the blade and at the hilt to blade junction, which could be carefully cleaned away. The blade is unsharpened, and retains its untouched factory edge, which is exactly the way you want to find a high condition knife. The composite black hilt shows some light scuffing and minor handling marks as well. The knife is accompanied by its correct pattern, original USN marked Siegal leather scabbard. The scabbard is in about VERY FINE condition, but certainly shows more some more wear than the knife it contains. The leather scabbards were only issued for a short time with the US Mark 1 and Mark 2 knives and were very quickly replaced with Beckwith Manufacturing scabbards that were made from a fiberglass composite material with a gray finish. The leather scabbards appear to have been phased out by the last part of 1943 because they simply did not hold up to the rigors of use in tropical and salt air environments. As noted, the scabbard is the correct pattern for the knife, with domed rivet reinforcements of the sewn scabbard edges, rather than the staple style reinforcements found on knives from other makers. The scabbard retains all of its original stitching around the edge and it is tight and secure. The original hilt-retaining strap and blackened brass snap are in place as well and are fully functional. The snap retain much of the black finish and also shows some green verdigris from reaction to the leather. The leather of the scabbard shows some discoloration from handling and storage, as well as some scuffing and light marks. The scabbard remains solid and complete and in really wonderful condition overall for a 75 year old piece of military leather.
Overall this is a very high condition example of a scarce and desirable USN Mark 1 Fighting Utility Knife by Colonial with a very nice and rather scarce leather scabbard. No collection of World War II US military knives is complete without a USN Mark 1, and for a condition conscious collector, it would be difficult to find one much nicer knife than this one. As only Colonial produced the plastic hilted Mk1 knives, this is a “must have” for any serious collection of US WWII fighting knives.