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  #31  
Old 06-14-2018, 04:52 PM
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Bill, I think Bo made the decision to do the stainless hilt in 1960, so if yours is a prototype, it's 1960, not just pre 63!

Sam
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  #32  
Old 06-14-2018, 06:40 PM
Ta2bill Ta2bill is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samg View Post
Bill, I think Bo made the decision to do the stainless hilt in 1960, so if yours is a prototype, it's 1960, not just pre 63!

Sam
Correct Sam.

The reason I stated "Pre-1963" is derived from the written word that the "Astro" was available to the general public via the latest Randall catalog in 1963. This is obviously earlier.

My conclusion is this example must have been made between March 15, 1960 and May 25, 1960, when at that point, Bo made the executive decision to use stainless steel for all future hilts.

The brass hilt on my knife is also exactly 2 5/8" long, the new "extended length" for protection while wearing the space gloves. (Same time period as noted above)

Also, besides the 20 NASA training knives that were requested to be made from Solingen blades in June, 1960, Bo was using Swedish steel for the Astronauts knives, and polishing off the Solingen stamp on the ricasso, so his own logo could be incorporated. (Of course, later on in the 1963 catalog, Model 17 Astro's were available in both Swedish and Solingen steel versions)


I have unearthed many rare and previously unknown Randall knives in the past, but this one in my mind seems to be the most significant.


TB
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  #33  
Old 06-15-2018, 10:06 PM
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Definitely a cool piece of Astro History. Thanks for adding it to this thread Bill. We just never know what's going to pop up.
Sam
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  #34  
Old 09-03-2018, 07:14 PM
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I pulled this thread up because of a great conversation on another board that I am no longer a part of.
Joe, you were addressing the model 17 Astro and discussing the replica aspect of the knife.
As this is my favorite Randall and own a couple early ones, one with and one without scales.
Specifically In the thread you stated:

"Very few if any really left the shop without scales. That is a myth that for some reason folks keep talking about. It more that impractical w/o scales. It is barely practical with scales, a very small handle. Anyone can take an early Astro and take the scales off. Wa la, an Astro w/o scales. Much to do about nothing."


I don't think that trivialising the scaleless Astro is in good keeping with the history of this model.
We know that a number of them went to his dealers as display models, and it was offered as the first available to the public, with the micarta as an option.
There is also speculation that Alan Shepard took his into space without scales.
Could someone take their scales off and claim scaleless? Of course. But what's interesting is the one that I purchased that belonged to Rhett that you tested for carbon steel at Blade a few years ago, has a perfectly cornered cavity. Many that I have seen with scales removed has an unfinished cavity, probably because it was fitted with scales. The only reason to give such attention and time to the cavity is if it was meant to be displayed. Mine was also made without the thong hole. So I feel that I for one have one that was made that way. Why wouldn't there be more, it was offered that way, and the paperweight was offered and advertised that way, as being carried by Alan Shepard without scales.
As to being practical, practicality doesn't have much to do with it, as it wasn't made with the intention of being used, but as a replica of the first knife in space.

As always, it's good discussing these knives. You may be right about the Astros, and no, I can't prove that mine was made and shipped without, but there are a couple of indicators that it was.
Thanks Joe
Sam






Last edited by samg; 09-09-2018 at 10:15 PM.
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  #35  
Old 09-03-2018, 07:51 PM
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To be fair and balanced, I have seen square cavities with scales, but mine in addition to no drilled thong hole? I think it a strong indicator. But like many Randall conversations, it is speculative...

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  #36  
Old 09-04-2018, 01:00 PM
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Sam -

I am certain a few examples with no scales left the shop, emphasizing few. That would explain one reason why you almost never see one. I am also going to go out on a limb and state I think the vast majority ordered the knife with scales because that is what the astronauts carried.

I am not trivializing the no scale Astros, I believe it is merely a minor side note to the history of the model.
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  #37  
Old 09-05-2018, 05:23 AM
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Originally Posted by crutchtip View Post
I am not trivializing the no scale Astros, I believe it is merely a minor side note to the history of the model.
That's fine Joe. You certainly have the right to believe it to be a side note if you wish, but with Bo offering it to the public for the first time in his 16th printing catalog as a replica without scales, with the Micarta as an "option" it seems to me that it was more than a "side note". IMO you are trivializing a model that was near and dear to Mr Randall.

triv·i·al·ize
ˈtrivēəˌlīz/Submit
verb
make (something) seem less important, significant, or complex than it really is.
"the problem was either trivialized or ignored by teachers"
synonyms: treat as unimportant, minimize, play down, underestimate, make light of, treat lightly, dismiss, underplay, downplay, diminish, belittle; informalpooh-pooh

By definition you are attempting to trivialize, Joe.

It's about perspective, and as the Randall authenticator, just because you don't particularly like the model, I would think you would appreciate the Astro in it's place of Randall history, instead of putting personal bias into it.

Your earlier comment "It more that impractical w/o scales. It is barely practical with scales, a very small handle. Anyone can take an early Astro and take the scales off. Wa la, an Astro w/o scales. Much to do about nothing."

Were you there Joe, when Gordon Cooper and Bo Randall designed the knife? Did you express your opinion to one of the first American astronauts, that his design was impractical?


It was designed for astronauts, possibly having space gloves on, not for a hunter or fighter. You have to remember the functional purpose of the knife. Kind of like the oversized hilt to keep the gloved hand from slipping up on the blade if he had to hack his way out of the capsule.
I think the early Astros and the initial replicas are great examples in keeping with the early technology of the space program.

Another thing. I imagine that the few scaleless Astros that went out to the public, more attention was probably given to the tang with finish work, because it was intended to be displayed without scales.

Sam
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  #38  
Old 09-05-2018, 06:33 AM
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By the way Joe, don't forget, that "impractical handle" was carried first into space without scales. A bit more than "much to do about nothing"







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  #39  
Old 09-05-2018, 08:42 AM
crutchtip crutchtip is offline
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Sam -

I think you are taking this way too seriously. I understand your affinity for this model, and where you came up with the idea that I don't care for it or have a "bias" (?) is confusing and argumentative. To the contrary, the very early examples are quite appealing to be frank.

That aside, whether or not Shepard carried one w/o scales on his flight means exactly what? Of all the Mercury and Gemini flights, there is no mention or suggestion that any other astronaut did so. Apparently Shepard took the scales off himself, as the photos of the original knives show them all with scales. So, I don't know how his individual decision (if true) on the one flight sets the bar. I have never seen a photo of Shepard (nor any other astronaut) with his knife and no scales.

Of course the cartoon depiction of Gus Grissom and the Liberty Bell 7 is wholly inaccurate as the knife has been recovered and it has the original brown micarta scales.

From Gaddis:

...as late as October 1960, the handle configuration had yet to be firmly decided upon. In a letter dated 19 October, Cooper mentioned, "i'm still debating about whether to build the entire handle of the knife with cord and survival items, or to imbed some of them in the Micarta, in the niches carved out inside."

From all available evidence, it appears the latter method was the one used on all flights. Most of the experimental knives Cooper world with were delivered from the Randall shop without scales (or slabs), but we know that the mens's personal knives, as well as those ordered by NASA, were shipped with Micarta handle scales attached."


So, did Shepard actually carry a scaleless knife on his flight? Maybe. By his statement, it seems the knife he carried in space was delivered with scales, and it is reflected in photos. Perhaps he decided to take them off for the flight. Who knows? Either way, again, any scaleless examples apparently were only used for development as it seems all preferred the micarta handle as supplied to both the astronauts and NASA.

One other thing to consider, aside from 3 options for handles, selling an Astro without scales and not hollowing out and shape the micarta handle, was a far less time consuming undertaking, and I believe could possibly lend itself to the catalog offering handles as a chargeable option, perhaps predicting high sales numbers for the "space knife" to collectors.

I suggest you read Gaddis thoroughly, because it is really is the "final word". Too long to type here, but on page 188, the whole thing in a nutshell is discussed. I beleve you could glean allot from studying that information.

Last edited by crutchtip; 11-15-2018 at 08:17 AM.
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  #40  
Old 09-05-2018, 11:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crutchtip View Post
Of course the cartoon depiction of Gus Grissom and the Liberty Bell 7 is wholly inaccurate as the knife has been recovered and it has the original brown micarta scales.
Joe, the cartoon is about Alan Shepard, not Gus Grissom, as Shepard was the first American into space. Shepherd's knife was never recovered.
I'm not debating scales on or scales off, whether Shepard had them removed or not. Despite what Gaddis' said, the catalog insert offering the paperweight and a tie clip are depicted without scales, and the paperweight insert, I am sure with the insert having Bo's approval, the insert indicated that Shepard flew it without scales. That's enough provinance for me, along with the fact that the Astro was first offered without scales, with micarta as an option.

Quote:
Originally Posted by crutchtip:497366
One other thing to consider, aside from 3 options for handles, selling an Astro without scales and not hollowing out and shape the micarta handle, was a far less time consuming undertaking, and I believe could possibly lend itself to the catalog offering handles as a chargeable option, perhaps predicting high sales numbers for the "space knife" to collectors.
That's very possible from a marketing point of view.

Your other viewpoint:. "Very few if any really left the shop without scales. That is a myth that for some reason folks keep talking about. It more that impractical w/o scales. It is barely practical with scales, a very small handle. Anyone can take an early Astro and take the scales off. Wa la, an Astro w/o scales. Much to do about nothing."

You may or may not be right about that, but what's the point? I just took exception with the trivializing of the Astro in general. I respect that is your opinion, but others don't agree.
It would be like someone making light of the World War II fighter with the thong clip. To many that's a very valuable part of Randall history, but it occupies a very small part of it, as a better way of securing the thong was discovered after what, a year? Does that mean that the thong clip is not important? Of course not.
The fighter and the Astro occupy very important moments in the Randall timeline, and I think they should both be treated with the respect they deserve. Not trivialized with suggestions of "impractical, and much to do about nothing"
Just my 2˘ worth.
Sam

Last edited by samg; 09-06-2018 at 06:19 PM.
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  #41  
Old 09-05-2018, 02:20 PM
crutchtip crutchtip is offline
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Sam -

I am still uncertain what the real problem is. Very few Astros left the shop w/o scales. I think that is evident. Did you review Gaddis? You seem to dismiss what he said, as apparently there was more that a little discussion about the model 17 to include the handle.

The paperweight and tie clip I am not sure are a basis for anything of substance. It is apparent Bo liked the design, to include it seems the tang material removed and he also apparently liked the drilled holes for attachment of a scaled (or tenite) handle material. So perhaps he simply liked the look of the overall design in its stripped down form.

As for your analogy of the wrist thong link versus drilled butt for WWII thong attachment. I am not sure that really was what you were after. Perhaps the "evolution" of the blade grind on the 17 as was discussed on KTF is very similar, an evolution in design, like it or not.

A wrist thong link versus drilled hole is not the same a an Astro without scales. The first was a wholesale change or evolution of design, whereas scales on scales off is somewhat benign and not of any real importance that I can determine. So a civilian could order one without scales. Ok. I just don't see any earth shattering news here. More than likely that is why they were offered w/o scales, primarily for display, because it sure wouldn't be a good use when the model 15 or 18 were available and superior for most tasks.

It seems to me, that while the initial blade(s) sent to Cooper had no scales, purportedly for handle design input, all knives photographed are drilled for scale attachment. I glean from that, that the intended design was to provide a method for handle attachment. I have never seen a photo that I recall of a non drilled tang. This is of course pertinent to Orlando forged blades as we know the Solingen blades were already drilled.

So after all this back and forth, I am still amiss to what the issue is.

Last edited by crutchtip; 09-05-2018 at 03:13 PM.
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  #42  
Old 09-05-2018, 03:42 PM
Ta2bill Ta2bill is offline
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I was never a fan of the Model 17 Astro, at face value, until I started purchasing 1960's versions. The re-ground Model 15 Solingen blades are by far and away my all time favorite. And any with the rounded handle get my nod. I have many.

Not to be repetitious, but my very early Solingen version which I have posted earlier in this thread, was shown to several shop employees who all agree that it had no evidence of ever having scales attached. Also, those same gentlemen, namely Jason Randall, Scott Maynard and Aaron Johnson all agreed that the brass hilt was shop soldered to the blade as well.

I'm hoping to still have this one around to show Joe at Gator next year, if for nothing else other than my belief that he deserves to be in contact with any historical RMK items because of his position in our community.

Sam, I love the enthusiasm you put into the brand as well. If everybody had the same passion for the truly historical and unique knives as you, Joe and myself have, and not just to make a fast buck pimping knives off for profit, we would be much tightly woven.

Thank you both!

I might hold onto this one for a little while.....lol



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  #43  
Old 09-05-2018, 04:27 PM
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Bill -

It does seem to be that knives that never had scales like yours and Sam's, have a much cleaner removal of the tang material for the "storage" area.

Curious about yours is the thickness of the brass for the hilt. If the age of the knife is what you think it is, I would bet it would have the thin material that was used on 15's and 18's of the that period. Generally the thicker stuff, the same use on 14's seems to show up around 1965.

Looking forward to seeing it.
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  #44  
Old 09-05-2018, 05:45 PM
Ta2bill Ta2bill is offline
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I recall that Gaddis pointed out the first experimental thin brass hilts had an integral bolster added for rigidity. And the Stainless Steel, while thinner, would certainly have more strength than a similar thickness hilt in brass.

Here are a few shots from the museum that I took in June, 2018. Real experimental stuff.

Obviously, these photos are not directed towards you, but for the enjoyment of future researchers and collectors.






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  #45  
Old 09-05-2018, 07:08 PM
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That is a very interesting knife Bill. I have to think it an experimental too. Not quite a 15, not quit a 17. A hybrid. Below are a few of the experimentals in the development of the Astro, on display at the museum, the ones you posted Bill.
Joe, there is no problem. You definitely know your stuff, and entitled to your opinion. The history is what it is. I just bristle a little when it appears this historic knife has been downplayed.
I have another little piece of space history as well. It's a section of the umbilical cable that was attached to Shepard's capsule. Pretty cool. Sections of the astronauts cables were distributed as souvenirs to staff, engineers, etc, after the launches of the Mercury Redstones.







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