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Out of the blue


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I was sitting in my living room watching the Hawks lose to the Rams (karmic retribution for last Mondays game, I'm sure) and a truck pulls into the driveway. A guy gets out and says that he's heard that I'm a knifemaker (it's a fairly small town) and that he has something I might like. In the truck is a jumbo size cleaver, the kind for the disassembly of a cow or sheep. He's got two small daughters and his wife doesn't like having it in the house. It's a family piece, his family were Basque farmers and herders who moved to Washington around 1900, with this beasty. He thought I might appreciate it. Then he started in with, "Oh, you could clean up the blade and put a new handle on it and......". I thanked him and said that I like it just the way it is, that the marks and all are part of the history of the piece. If I want a pretty, brand new one, I'll make one! I cleaned the active rust off the blade and oiled it and I'm going to hang it in my kitchen!

 

There is just the remnant of a mark on one side, but not enough to decipher.

 

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I really like the cap, I need to figure out how to make one.

 

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You can just see the remnant of the mark.

 

Geoff

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The cap seems solid, but I don't want to take it apart to find out for sure. The square nut I'd bet is a replacement.

 

Troy, any idea on the age? It's got a ton of wear, the spine has been hammered on (to drive it through bone, I'd bet), and the handle has a georgous patina. I know that such things are probably still being made, but this one looks old.

 

That could be a cap "B" in the last picture, I suppose.

 

Geoff

Edited by Geoff Keyes
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Sachem may be right but after seeing your second post I think it is a Gloekler. They began in Pittsburg in 1856 and made a variety of meat processing equipment. My Father-in-law has a butcher's block from them. I do not have any source material to date your cleaver but the latest advertisement I've found for the firm is dated 1935.

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After looking around some more I found several more examples with similar handles (turned rather than smooth) and similar pommels and a variety of blades sizes and shape variations by several different makers. It seems likely to me that the pommel and perhaps the handles as well were bought from a catalog. I found all kinds of small variations, the number and placement of the rings on the handle, closed and open ferules, and a number of blade shapes.

 

Could it be that there was just one or two actual makers of butchering cutlery, and the various sellers had their logos put on the blades?

 

In any case, it's going to get a place of honor in my house, and if any zombies try to break in..... ;)

 

Geoff

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