Sunday, March 18, 2012

Vintage Knife: Schrade "Uncle Henry #885 Senior Racher" Stockman.

Let me first start by giving you a bit of background. Schrade (And Imperial) went out of business in 2004. They exist solely now as a "in name only" entity owned by Taylor Brands LLC. All new Schrade knives are made overseas.

That being said.

This is an absolutely great knife scaled up from an equally great pattern from a great company with an added twist.
I came across this knife quite accidentally. I was looking for an Old Timer (One of Schrade's lineups) that was similar to the first one my Father purchased for me. My first knife. Quite accidentally I decided to look at a few of the vintage and antique stores in my town. I was strictly window shopping, but one of the women working there offered to open the knife cabinet for me. I spotted this beauty and was struck with in how good condition it was. No wobble, no corrosion. It's from Schrade's "Uncle Henry" lineup. This particular lineup featured a stainless steel which no doubt was the reason for the good quality it was in. It was essentially brand new. At the time I was looking for an every day carry traditional knife. I thought I found it. Emphasis on thought.

Upon the typical inspection of the tang stamp (i.e. The mark on the base of the main blade of knives) I found something curious.

Unusual and rare. The XX denoted that for some reason this particular knife did not pass quality control and inspection. This could be for any number of reasons. Accidentally putting one blade in the wrong spot or even something cosmetic. It's very rare to find these outside of someone who works in a knife factory or who at least lived near the factory. Usually these knives were given to employees, sold to them or sold in the local area as "factory seconds." So what was going to be an EDC knife quickly turned into a collection piece. Unique knives are much like stamps or coins that the mint or printer accidentally printed backwards. A rarity among rarities.

Fortunately for me I have two other 885UH's (UH standing for Uncle Henry) in my junk drawer. They're from the mid to late 1970's. Except for the blades having been sharpened down into toothpick width by their previous owner(s) I was able to judge what was quality control normal. As best as I can tell there is nothing wrong with this knife. Curiously one scale is a little more "topographical" and textured than it should be. That quite possibly could be the reason it didn't pass QC checks. Considering Schrade, and other knife makers strict quality control levels, it's not an unexpected reason why it didn't pass spec.

The question people might be asking is; What time frame is this from? Hard to say. Schrade used the same tang stamp style from about 1975 to 2004. But 2004 was largely dedicated to "Last Run" marked knives. So we can narrow that range down to 1975 to 2003. Given the quality and lack of use it is in doesn't help narrow that timeframe down very much. Conservatively speaking probably mid 1990's. But you never know.

The more curious question is how did an XX'd Schrade get all the way down South? Curiouser and curiouser to be sure. How much is it worth? Beats me. I'm sure I didn't pay what it is really worth, though.

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