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great-grandfather's knife

chrbla2000

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So, my father gave me my great-grandfather's pocket knife yesterday, his initials OGW are engraved in the handle, It's cool, but I don't know much about it and my internet search didn't turn up much. On the blades, each one has a stamp:

1 XL
George
Wosten

Which, after my search, I believe is for George Wostenholm, made under the Sheffield company brand:
"I*XL has been one of the most well know Sheffield trade marks. The first company known for using the mark on knives was originally George Wolstenholme and Son. The company's name was shorted to George Wostenholm sometime just prior to 1820."

Anyway, the knife is small, it has 3 blades and a nail file, my father believes the handle material is gold and based on it not being tarnished at all after having sat in his drawer for God knows how long, I agree that's a good possibility.

Here's a close up of the stamp on the base of the blades/nail file:

1xl.JPG

And here's a picture of the whole thing, the handle is 2-1/4" long total, it's a small pocket knife!

20210222_140620.jpg
 

moojpg2

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Sheffield is a major knife maker like Buck, Case, Swiss Army, etc. They make tons of different types of little pocket knives like that, they also make knives for different brands and private label stuff. That is a neat little knife, I bet it was a gift from someone or maybe his job or something that had it personalized. I doubt that it is gold but it's possible. Some of their knives are considered collectable but that knife is all about the sentimental value, cherish it. I'm sure it could tell some stories. The steel in the blades is probably of good quality I'm sure they will hold a good edge if you sharpened them carefully, I wouldn't mess up the patina though.
 

not new guy

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Seems like the maker may indeed have sold some with gold scales. Is it marked 14k anywhere? As to solid or plated, solid seems hard to believe except that the plating presumably would have worn off on the high spots after all these years.
 

chrbla2000

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I can't see any markings on it other than what I mentioned/pictured. Not sure if he smoked a pipe but it's certainly possible. OGW, Oliver G. Willits, was chairman of the board at Campbells soup and died the same month and year I was born in:

My father mentioned that OG wasn't around much and doesn't have much insight into what his life was like. I heard that he did not approve of his daughter (my grandmother) marrying my grandfather so that may have something to do with it.

It's cool though, I oiled it up and put it in the safe, it's neat touching some family history, knowing the old man kept it in his pocket, and connecting with him at that level. I intend to write down what I know about him, print that, and keep it with the few 'artifacts' I have of his to pass along to my son at some point. My father has a Trapdoor Springfield 45-70 that was OG's as well, someday that will likely be mine also.

-chris
 

Rat187

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Seems like the maker may indeed have sold some with gold scales. Is it marked 14k anywhere? As to solid or plated, solid seems hard to believe except that the plating presumably would have worn off on the high spots after all these years.
Old school gold plating can be quite thick compared to todays AU plating
 

Sterg

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I would say the scales are solid gold. Probably 10k sheets. Do the scales have little tabs on either end?If they were plated the engraving would show the base metal. X2 with don’t mess with the patina. Very nice heirloom.
 

SHOCKNAWE

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I dug out my Grandfathers knife, he told me it was issued to him when he was in the Navy if I remember correctly, he gave it to me like over 40 years ago so I can’t confirm if it was a Navy issue or if he bought it while in. He was in from 1945-1949 it has him and my grandmothers name etched in on the back, not sure if it can be seen in the pic or not. E49F9957-75EA-455B-92B0-5610ED2752D3.jpeg9CA99A49-FACA-4950-A680-0213624F9A6A.jpegB16F195A-9FEC-470B-B269-824913F48151.jpeg
 

SHOCKNAWE

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As stated, don’t sharpen it or polish it. I’d wipe a light coat of oil on it and leave it as is unless you have a desire to carry it or whatever.
Not a chance I would use it anymore. I keep it in my safe so it hasn’t rusted or anything. I have lined it with olive oil on occasion like I do with my Esee’s
 

tuna

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Nice - it's awesome to have a legacy like that.


Question to all: why not sharpen or polish? I get the patina adds collector value in older guns and knives, but if you're planning on keeping it as a using knife, is there any damage you do? Curious because I found an old Camillus knife that was rusty / crusty, and spent a good couple hours cleaning it. You can still tell it's old, but at least I can feel safe eating off of it. But I'm wondering if I need to get ahead of anything.
 

enbloc

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Nice - it's awesome to have a legacy like that.


Question to all: why not sharpen or polish? I get the patina adds collector value in older guns and knives, but if you're planning on keeping it as a using knife, is there any damage you do? Curious because I found an old Camillus knife that was rusty / crusty, and spent a good couple hours cleaning it. You can still tell it's old, but at least I can feel safe eating off of it. But I'm wondering if I need to get ahead of anything.
I guess it boils down to intrinsic value vs. sentimentality. If it was my blade, and I wanted to field it, I would freshen the edge, clean and waterproof any leather and keep the rust down.
Any staining on the blade would be ok. These old, high-carbons stain just looking at them funny...

Anyway, wrapping my mitts around a nice, old family knife and gently using it in the out-of-doors is as close as you will ever get to holding your father's or grandfather's hand again...
 
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