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Old 04-01-2015, 04:20 PM
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The provenance for Heiser made RMK sheaths are displayed in Jacks photos above, provided by Gary Clinton.
2 RMK stamped sheaths, one horizontal, one west facing stamp, both displaying the serif numbers, and I believe, correct me if I am wrong, both have 1960 provenance?!!!!!!!!
If this doesn't make the case that Heiser made the west and horizontal RMK stamped sheaths, what simply does?!!!!

Gary's description of the group of knives photo, 1st on the right: west facing stamp with serif number stamp

1: Has a name and date etched from Randall 1960 Pinned ebony. Lugged nickel silver hilt and the sheath is indented for it. Quality of the sheath is very good. CK, ST snaps.?

Given the cut-outs in the sheath of Gary's knife, it is probable the sheath is original to the knife. Which means? a pinned ebony handled model-1 Randall was made (or etched) by the shop in 1960, and it was delivered with a brown button sheath that was marked with a vertically oriented Randall stamp. In other words, Gary?s knife could have (haven?t seen the blade) very similar characteristics, handle, blade, spacers, and sheath, as the magic-Randall knife that started this discussion line (see pictures post #1).

Then the horizontally oriented stamped sheath with serif numbers, also with provenance dating knife to 1960?!!!!

See pics below.

Is this the game changer? I think with the added evidence of serif number stamps, showing clear evidence that Heiser was using serif number stamps, and orienting the stamps first horizontal, then west, with this provenance that Gary Clinton provided.....and that all evidence points in the many years of Johnson made baby dot sheaths that display east facing stamp with non serif numbers.....I think it all becomes crystal clear. What more is needed? We have provenance illustrating knife/sheath marriages made in 1960. Combined with the evidence that Maurice Johnson did not appear before 1961-62.

The research continues, but correct me if I am wrong guys, but is this not the clincher?
For some to imply that Johnson oriented the RMK stamp this way, or that way, and for a while used serif number stamps, then not.....again, where is your evidence? It must come from a baby dot east facing stamped sheath, proving that Johnson had non serif number stamps.

Why you ask? Because we have established that Heiser used serif numbers for their entire relationship with Bo Randall! This is hard evidence.

Not to mention the ebay sample sheaths that belonged to a Heiser employee displaying west and horizontal RMK stamps.

Thanks to Jack for bringing Gary Clinton's pics back into the forefront. So many threads, posts and pictures have been posted in this discussion, it's hard to piece it all together. Thanks again Jack.

The serifs appear to be the decider in this debate. Thanks Ron for bringing the differences to my attention.

You 2 guys with your Randall knowledge, and your ability to get into the nuts and bolts of piecing it all together, Thanks for getting us much closer to that smoking gun

I know I am probably too excited by this connection. Please....someone show me the error of my ways.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg brown_button_back.jpg (173.1 KB, 13 views)
File Type: jpg Font-Garyclinto-3-1960_zpspscekvyj.jpg (75.1 KB, 12 views)

Last edited by samg; 04-01-2015 at 05:30 PM.
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Old 04-01-2015, 07:37 PM
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Originally Posted by jacknola
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.
Jack, all of the serif numbers follow suit as the 3 does. At least in my observations.

It stands to logical reasoning that Heiser RMK's in timeline order were:

1) No stamp

2) Horizontal to mimic what they had always done with their Heiser logo stamp

3) West facing

It will be interesting to see what the trail of documented dated sheaths shows us, perhaps verifying the time line.

If you have pictures of RMK knives with late 1950's or 1960 provenance in a RMK stamped sheath, please post it here.


Last edited by samg; 04-01-2015 at 09:14 PM.
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Old 04-01-2015, 09:30 PM
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I'm probably going to limit my research in this "font-ology" line because (1) we cannot shed more light on the Johnson brown button sheaths because Johnson did not stamp his brown buttons sheaths with model or length numbers. (2) to connect the Heiser-H-K-L sheath fonts directly to those used on Heiser-logo sheaths will require a pretty deep knowledge of Heiser-ology... and that dictates extensive research into a Randall time period that is not my primary interest... the 1950s.

That said, here is some interesting number font data that supports the FACT that the Hesier/H-K-L sheaths were not made by Johnson.

First are a few examples of the font used by Johnson on his sheaths. This font was apparently unchanged from earliest use in about early 1963 at least into the 1970s. I've only included a few examples because it got boring...they all were alike. Unlike Sam, I focused on the "seven" not the "three" because the "7" is a more commonly found number. Note the font of these Johnsons.

Now let's look at the font used on Heiser/H-K-L sheaths with both horizontal and west facing Randall stamps. I looked at a lot of these sheaths and they all had this font... Again focus on the seven, but of course you can also look at the "four."

It is pretty obvious that the fonts used on the Heiser/H-K-L sheaths is different from that used by Johnson... and that holds for all the numbers, not just 7s and 3.s Is this proof that Johnson was not the maker of those H-K-L sheats? No, but it is a strong indicator, because now in order for Johnson to have made those sheaths he would have to have done all of the following:

He would have had to have begun making a lot of sheaths in 1959-60; used the west and horizontal stamps with a particular number-font; constructed his sheaths with the center placed keeper; used stiching on the butterfly on the back of the sheath that looked exactly like that used on Heiser-stamped; made a bunch of canteen snap sheaths; etc....

AND then SUDDENLY sometime in late-1962 he would have had to have changed everything. He started not using model numbers and then when he resumed adding them, he changed the font from what he had previously used; he changed the keeper strap location; changed the orientation of the stamp on the back of the sheath; suddenly changed the stiching to run deep into the butterfly; introduced the large tack rivet instead of the canteen snap, etc.

The obvious difference in the fonts of ALL the numbers used on Heiser/H-K-L and those used later by Johnson is just additional data saying that it would be highly unlikely for Johnson to have made those Heiser/H-K-L sheaths... we already had concluded that, this just adds some more kindling to the fire

Now, are the numbers used on the Heiser/H-K-L sheaths the same as those used on the Heiser-stamped sheaths that immediately proceeded them? Well that is another story because there were a LOT of different fonts and even sizes of numbers used on Heiser-stamped sheaths. Take a look at this hodge podge of numbers used on Heiser stamped sheaths.

In order to know if the Heiser/H-K-L sheaths used the same fonts as the late 1950s Heisers, one would have to know what the time period was when Heiser used each of diverse group of fonts ... in other words, you would have to be something of an expert on the marking of Heiser sheaths. Perhaps there is a body of knowledge that can ID the time period of those sheaths by the difference in their number sizes and fonts. I just don't know much about Heiser stamps.

However even without direct knowledge, we can make some good deductions based on probability. It appears that the most common font number stamp on Heisers is shown below top, yellow circles, Those sevens seem to be a dead ringer for the fonts used by Heiser/H-K-L. Case closed? well, trouble ... the fonts of the numbers on the sheath at bottom right seem match no other Heiser sheath I've seen. Those fonts are different from the most common Heiser ones, and they seem to be close to the fonts used by Johnson. Confusing?

But here is another method. Gary Clinton posted these sheaths which we now know is a grouping of Heiser/H-K-L sheaths with a couple of Heiser sheaths mixed in. Note the tiny numbers, round "3" etc., on the second right Heiser... But more importantly, notice the fonts and numbers on the Heiser second left and compare those to the Heiser/H-K-Ls in the group. The font on that Heiser seems to exactly match the fonts on the H-K-L sheaths.

Conclusion: Using font-ology, we cannot say precisely that there a direct connection between Heiser-stamped sheaths and the Heiser/H-K-L sheaths because we (read "I") don't know enough about the time period and way Heiser used the many different stamp fonts that we find. However, we can say that the model number stamps on the Heiser-H-K-L sheaths are completely different from those used by Johnson when he began stamping his sheaths with those numbers.

AND... we have already listed a great many other obvious characteristics that Heiser and Heiser-H-K-L sheaths have in common... These are more than enough to say with confidence that the Heiser/H-K-Ls were indeed made by Heiser.

Last edited by Jacknola; 04-08-2015 at 09:24 AM.
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Old 04-02-2015, 05:55 AM
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Thanks Jack for putting this "fontology" together in such an organized, easy way to understand. Great job with the pictures and illustrations!

Yes, all the photos that I have sifted through, the numbers 7,3,2, and especially 1 have held my attention.

The number 1 stamp has been interesting because both Heiser-HKL and Johnson number 1 stamp exhibit a serif. Heiser-HKL number 1 serif angles down, while the Johnson 1 serif is a right angle, straight out.

Originally Posted by jacknola
numbers on the sheath at bottom right seem match no other Heiser sheath I've seen. Those fonts are different from the most common Heiser ones, and they seem to be close to the fonts used by Johnson. Confusing?

That Heiser with the non serif number stamp is interesting. We do know however that it is a Heiser because of the Heiser logo. This would only lend to a discussion that Heiser-HKL may have made many of the east facing RMK stamped sheaths as well. We know that didn't happen.

Jack, I agree with

Originally Posted by jacknola
in order for Johnson to have made those sheaths he would have to have done all of the following:

Started making a lot of sheaths in 1959-60; used the west and horizontal stamps with a particular number font; consturcted his sheaths with the center placed keeper; used a distinctive stiching into the butterfly on the back of the sheath; made a bunch of canteen snap sheaths; etc....

AND then SUDDENLY he had to have changed everything. He begain not using model numbers and then when he resumed adding them, he changed the font from what he had previously used; he changed the keeper strap location; changed the orientation of the stamp on the back of the sheath; suddenly introduced the tack rivet instead of the canteen snap, etc.

I see that as an unnatural progression also, and to claim that it is the way Johnson evolved, to the eventually east facing stamp and non serif number stamps? Changing number stamp styles? Logic?

A simple, easy way to understand it for myself, based on evidence thus far is that:

Heiser and Heiser-HKL used serif number stamps, Johnson used non serif number stamps.
We have provenance with knife/sheath marriages in 1960 (pre-Johnson) that display horizontal and west facing RMK stamps with serif numbers.
Evidence points strongly to Heiser-HKL made.

The case is not closed, the research goes on, but new evidence may be hard to come by, especially to debunk the observations, but I will be searching for the knife sheaths that fit our observations, and in all fairness, if there are non serif sheaths that are documented 1960, I would love to see them too.

Jack, thanks again for the clear, concise observations that you are adding to this thread.


Last edited by samg; 04-02-2015 at 10:22 PM.
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Old 11-20-2015, 09:41 PM
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I haven't revisited this sheath topic Heiser vs Johnson made in quite some time, as it has become part of my knowledge that Heiser did indeed possess a RMK stamp, based on the overwhelming evidence provided in the last couple years, provided thru amazing research done primarily by Jacknola.
The subject came back to mind for me this week in a tenite thread when Jacknola stated:

Originally Posted by Jacknola
I do not consider myself an expert, and my knowledge of this topic is purely secondary and drawn from previous publications by other people. As we have discovered, many of the tenants held by the so-called "expert" community about knives from this era have been proved wrong, from sheath manufacture markings and attribution, to blade stamps, etc.

I really admire the lack of ego on his part as he states clearly not to be an expert. But investigation is his business, and as we have discovered, he is good at it.

Well, tonight, in part based on the fact that I just recently acquired an early Smithsonian in a Heiser sheath, I googled "vintage randall smithsonian knife heiser sheath" and the very first result that popped up was this one by bp-outdoors. Scroll down halfway on the page where you have a group of brown button Heiser sheaths. The 12-11 has a RMK stamp.

It's good to see that the previously accepted theory that Heiser didn't have a RMK stamp has been proved wrong with good research, and now that it is relatively easy to tell them apart, we are seeing the results of a lot of good research come to light.

Regards, Samg

Brown button Heiser sheaths

Last edited by samg; 11-20-2015 at 09:53 PM.
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Old 08-08-2019, 11:25 AM
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I kind of eluded to this in Jack's thread "Dating a Randall Bowie" with my last post about an early 60's 12-9 Sportsman's Bowie. But this part of the conversation has to do more specifically with the sheath, which belongs on this thread. It's good to revive old threads from time to time.

The sheath I'm referring to is Brown Button sheath with a west facing RMK stamp.

This sheath to me, seems to be a hybrid. Looking at the front, it has the stone pocket flap (slightly rounded)of a Heiser/HKL, but a beveled edge to the sheath, like a Johnson.

Then you flip it over, it has a vertical RMK west facing stamp (Heiser/HKL) but the sewing of the butterfly with the 2 center stitch lines is more Johnson


In the following photo, on the left you have an early Heiser/HKL sheath, center, an early Johnson baby dot sheath, on the right the subject sheath.

Obviously different model sheaths, Note how similar the 2 outside sheaths are. Same shape on the stone flap end. Difference in the 2 is the edge. The left is tooled, the right is beveled. The center sheath is obvious Johnson. Note the pointed stone flap end, and beveled sheath edge.


In the following photo, on the back, note the left and right sheath, west facing stamp, the left has serif style model/blade numbers, the right does not have numbers.
The center sheath, Johnson baby dot with east facing RMK stamp, very characteristic of Johnson's sheaths.
Though the left and right sheaths are more similar in appearance, note the butterfly in all 3. The center and the right side are more similar.


The left and center sheaths in the above photos are very different in the described aspects, but the sheath on the right has attributes of both.
I would estimate that all 3 sheathes were made within 2 years of each other.

I think there are a few scenarios to be considered in who constructed this subject sheath.

1) because of the west facing stamp, it was made by Heiser/HKL and they just uncharacteristically beveled the edge and left off the number stamps.

2) the stitch count on the subject sheath is different too. So either HKL or Johnson used a different machine.

3) Johnson early on received unfinished/ unsewn sheaths from Heiser/HKL and finished them up to include beveling the edge and not using number stamps, which we see in his early Baby dot sheaths.

4) Johnson completely made this sheath, and within a year changed his dies, reoriented his stamp, reshaped the stone flap.

5) In Randall's search for a local sheath maker, someone we don't know about made it.

I think probably the 3rd or 5th scenario is the correct one. We will never know for sure, we can only speculate, but as familiar as we all are with the styles of both Heiser and Johnson over the years, this sheath is an odd ball.
If any of you have similar sheaths, please post them.

Regards, Sam

Last edited by samg; 08-08-2019 at 11:53 AM.
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Old 08-10-2019, 10:21 PM
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I found another sheath that I think fits in the sequence. In the photo below, you have the:

1) Top Subject Brown Button sheath possibly cut out and stamped by Heiser/HKL, sewn and finished by Johnson.

** 2) Center Brown Button Sheath made by Johnson with early East facing stamp

3) Early Baby dot Johnson sheath, East facing stamp.


**I'm not totally convinced that the center sheath was completely done by Johnson. Look at the pic below, (from same sheaths as above) My observations on Johnson stone pouch flaps is that they are sharper pointed at the end, The Heiser/HKL have a more blunted point to them. The center photo looks like a combination of both. Not quite as pointed, not quite as blunt.

I know it's not a perfect science to distinguish Heiser/HKL from Johnson by this attribute, but remember, the companies used dies to cut these components out, so Johnson by the time he was off and running with the baby dots, had retooled and had his own dies.


Bottom line, I think we possibly have a sequence of early Johnson sheaths in the top photo, with the top sheath possibly a HKL/Johnson . Also notice the butterfly stitch on the back of all 3 are the same.

Of course, it is possible that HKL sent all dies back to Randall, as the sheath designs were probably the property of Randall Made Knives, and at first Maurice Johnson used them for a few weeks/months, then made his own dies for the next generation of Randall sheaths.
Either way, if he received unsewn sheath components and finished them, or just the HKL dies, and made them completely, the subject sheath is probably one of the earliest sheaths completed in Orlando. The truth is probably lost to the past.

Last edited by samg; 08-11-2019 at 05:14 PM.
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Old 08-18-2019, 09:00 PM
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The reason I feel the subject sheath is one perhaps cut out by HKL and finished by Johnson is the stone flap.
The Heiser BB flaps were more blunt on the tip.


The Heiser/HKL BB flap blunted


The Johnson BB flap more pointed


Not much has been made over the flap shape over the years, but as each maker had dies to cut out the sheath pattern, they also had the die for the stone pouch. With very few exceptions of perhaps being worn, I can tell by the shape of the flap tip whether it's Heiser/HKL or Johnson Brown Button.

The brown button sheaths from Heiser thru HKL exhibit that blunted tip on the flap. Though the tooling appears to be pointed, the leather edge is blunted. See example below.

This is an HKL BB flap front and back


Here is a Johnson Baby dot front and back


Here is the HKL and Johnson together


Following is the front of the Johnson BB pictured above, with the Johnson Baby dot, virtually identical.


Here is a picture of the subject flap in the center, with an HKL flap to the left, and a Johnson flap to the right. Which one does the center more resemble, HKL or Johnson?


Again the subject sheath has attributes of both HKL and Johnson, thus perhaps

1) started by HKL and finished by Johnson
2) HKL sent dies to Randall, Johnson used them and duplicated the sheath including West stamp, then within weeks or months retooled and changed dies while still doing BB sheaths, and changed stamp orientation to East.

If Johnson made the subject sheath, he used HKL dies, and it was an early Johnson, because he had new dies made and changed stamp orientation while still doing the BB sheaths.

Again just an opinion, fun to speculate on these old ones.

Last edited by samg; 08-19-2019 at 05:45 AM.
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