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Old 03-05-2019, 09:52 AM
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samg samg is offline
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Matthews NC
Posts: 651
There is discussion of the Astro in the other thread "Early Astro without scales" where it's being discussed whether there were any Orlando steel Astros made before 1963. I thought the discussion belongs more in this thread.

The claim by Jack, is that most if not all Astros made before 1963 are Solingen steel Astros. With the exception of the Astronauts personal knives of course that were made from 01 carbon tool steel with the Randall stamp.
The 60 NASA training knives with the Solingen etched RANDALL MADE ORLANDO FLORIDA stamp, 20 were ordered and made in 1960, and 40 more were made in 1962.
Other than the training knives, I have only observed a couple of Solingen Astros. One a experimental with a brass hilt, and another in Pete Hamilton's book. Also the experimentals in the Randall museum.

The earliest Astros are made with brown Micarta scales, which date them to approx 1965 and earlier. Others were made without scales as offered standard in 1963-64. I have seen many Orlando steel Astros in Brown Micarta with the early sloping, dulled top clip, and long, thin stainless hilt, rounded tang butt, correct replicas of the Original Astronaut knives.
As I have seen these brown Micarta Astros in lift the dot, double Brown button, and baby dot split back sheaths, unless specific provenance to indicate year of manufacture, these brown Micarta Astros were made between 1962-65.

Here is one with a lift a dot sheath from 1963. Sheath is earlier, but perhaps first in, last out?

Double brown button from 1963

Joe Dorsky has an early Astro that he was referring to in the other thread "Early Astro without scales" in double brown button sheath that he estimates was made in 1962.


What all of these Astros have in common is the sloping, dulled top clip, and long, thin stainless hilt, and rounded tang butt. Also Brown Micarta, with the exception of Joe's Scaleless Astro.

Jack did a great thread on the evolution of the Randall stamps, in the thread "dating old Randall blades by blade stamp". Observing Randall stamps on early examples, there are 2 different stamps that were used on the early- mid '60's Astros. Type 1&2. The earlier stamp (type 1 Jack's thread)was used on the bottom knife in the following photo. The vertical part of the letter F in FLA is directly under the right leg of M in Made
The top knife in the following photo has the later stamp (type 2 Jack's thread)where the vertical part of the letter F in FLA is more centered in the letter M in Made
At this time in the early to mid 1960's, both stamps were in use. I have seen the later stamp on knives from the late 50's.


An illustration of Jack's research into the 3 stamp types


I have not seen an early public Astro in the older brown linen Micarta that was used on the astronauts knives and NASA training knives, or in tenite as used on the mod 14 and 15. The tenite and earlier brown linen Micarta would be a sure way to distinguish the earliest Astros. The later brown canvas Micarta was exhausted by 1965. At that point, black Micarta began being used.

Here are a couple close-ups of the different brown Micarta used early on.
The earliest brown linen Micarta.


The later brown canvas Micarta. Note the wavy thread thru the canvas Micarta.


An update to this is an early brown linen Micarta Solingen Astro that is authenticated at one of the 60 NASA knives made perhaps in 1962. This is the only Solingen stamped Astro that I have seen in the earlier brown linen Micarta.


Last edited by samg; 06-14-2019 at 05:54 AM.
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