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Old 03-31-2015, 12:21 PM
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Jacknola Jacknola is offline
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: New Orleans
Posts: 625
Sam, this is great stuff and an example of what can be discovered by approaching a subject logically and systematically. This is a further build on the sensible division of the brown button sheaths into Heiser, Heiser-made-Randall (I rather like the designation " Heiser-Keyston Brothers-Lichtenberger-Ferguson Co." or "H-K-L") and Johnson.

In my opinion, the study of fonts on sheaths (and knife blades as well) has a lot more that can be done and Sam has shown this. There are other numbers whose fonts are probably different as well. But I think the basic thesis has been proved beyond reasonable doubt that the "west stamps" are Heiser (H-K-L)-made, "east stamps" are Johnson-made.

Sam, your hypothesis looks generally good, but I've found some exceptions. We should probably expect exceptions and acknowledge that they just raise some interesting questions, which have logical answers.

Exception to Sam's thesis: Some Heiser sheaths that are stamped "over/under," (model number on top of the Heiser logo, length number below Heiser logo), seem to have a rounded "3" font. Yet the flat-top "3" is indeed omni-present on the H-K-L sheaths, also predominant on other Heiser-logo sheaths of the late 1950s. Here are two examples of the Heiser stamp with rounded "3":

Late 1950?s model 3, Heiser sheath, rounded "3"

Gary Clinton group of knives? note third knife from left, Heiser-stamp with over/under numbers, rounded font on the ?3?.

Just for contrast, here is a Heiser with flat-topped "3"... this seems to me to be more common than the rounded 3 on Heiser stamped sheaths, and it transitions exactly into the numbers on all the horizontal and west-stamped H-K-L sheaths, and I post three of those so everyone knows what Sam is referring to

To see how exactly the fonts on the Heiser-stamped sheath above tracks the subsequent H-K-L fonts, here are three such. First is probably 1960 brown button.

Next is Gary Clinton's documented 8/1960 knife.

Finally is a brown button Thorpe sheath.

Following Sam's lead, I did a hasty look. I think Sam is right that Johnson's rounded font ?3? was consistently different from that on the H-K-L sheaths and most of the later Heiser-stamped sheaths. Most or all of those seem to have the flat-topped "3." I haven't found any Johnson sheaths with the flat-topped "3," all seem to have the curved 3 that seems larger than the above illustrated Heiser curvey 3.

So... what about those Heiser stamped curvey 3s? Parhaps they are an earlier '50s font version (?). Lots of interesting comparisons to do here. But even with a quick look, I found about a dozen seeminly later Heiser-stamped sheaths with the flat-topped 3.

In passing I'll repeat that in my opinion when Johnson first made sheaths using brown buttons, he did not stamp his sheaths with model and length numbers. He probably began adding model and length numbers shortly after the introduction of the baby-dot snaps.

There are a couple of other things about sheaths I'll mention for people to look into.

(1) There was one person making Johnson sheaths whose work featured a meticulous double line of stitching into the heart of the butterfly. This is beautiful work that was noticably different from most Johnson sheaths, and that signature stitching continued to be seen occasionally on sheaths into the mid-1970s. MOre typically, Johnson sheath stitching had a single line that continued deep into the butterfly, and usually the butterfly curves were less meticulous, and sometimes rather haphazard. I wonder if the double line sewing was done by Mr. Johnson (sr.) himself, or possibly his wife (?).

Example 1 - double line butterfly stitching, baby-dot, no model numbers.

More common Johnson "butterfly" stitching.

(2) Model "B" sheaths (Heiser, H-K-L, Johnson) and later Johnson-made riveted Model-"Cs" were stamped on the front of the sheath rather than the back. I've looked at this periodically and it seems that the stamp orientation H-K-L vs Johnson is reversed from that seen on rear-stamped sheaths... H-K-L stamp more usually orients toward the "east" and Johnson toward the "west." In comparison, the Heiser stamps on B sheaths seem to have been mostly oriented toward "east," but not always... there are more than a few Heiser stamps on "B" sheaths that are "west" oriented, and occasional H-K-L-Randall stamps are turned and oriented "east."

It is something to be aware of? and probably is related to the steps used to make the sheaths. I speculate that the move of the stamp to the front of the riveted Model C sheaths was caused by the rough-back construction of those Johnson sheaths?the logo stamp applied to the back of the rough-back pebbly surface was not reliably or deeply imprinted.

Sam, thanks for your efforts and cataloguing. I?m glad you posted here and hope you continue to look into this. It would be interesting to examine the fonts of other numbers, such as "1" and "7" etc. If we had a huge chronologic data base no telling what we could learn.


PS: On another forum, there was a rather disorganized attempt to differentiate Johnson vs Heiser vs H-K-L sheaths using some ad hoc, "trust me," hodge-podge of mixed metaphors. Those attempts were characterized by a lack of systemic or chronologic backup (but with some good reference data). In my opinion, the "methodology" used was not very good (OK, it was very bad) ... and some "factual" examples were erroneous, confusing, and/or had warped commentary and data falsehoods.

Unfortunately, some find it difficult to engage in a proper discussion, or accept anyone elses opinion that redefines the old unsupportable status quo, regardless of the weight of evidence. That is one reason I have given up posting there. The other reason is .... something else. Oh well...

Fortunately this site seems to be more open and less intrenched. Thanks to the mods...

Last edited by Jacknola; 03-31-2015 at 08:36 PM.
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