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Old 2nd May 2019, 05:31 AM   #1
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Default Americal Colonial-era folding knife?

I rescued this one off of the scrap heap. It triggered in my mind that it could be an American Civil War era knife. Upon researching, I determined I was wrong by about 100 years. This looks most like knives from the colonial era/Revolutionary War. There seems to be a maker's mark stamped on the blade (last picture below), but I can't make out the details. I'm hoping someone can help me out. Also, any information anyone is willing to share about these, I'd love to learn more.

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Old 2nd May 2019, 10:55 AM   #2
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I've seen these described as sailors' knives made in 'the Spanish style'. A fine retrieval from any scrap heap.
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Old 2nd May 2019, 03:30 PM   #3
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I think it is a Mexican weapon known as a "saca tripas" (gut ripper, or something like that). I believe they were derived from agricultural tools. IIRC, these were commonly used by Mexican bandidos in the late 1800s and, at one point, the Mexican government banned their possession.

Yours may well be an early version, as most I've seen had a spring on the inside of the grip that engaged with teeth that were incorporated in the blade, giving it a "flick knife" capability. Perhaps yours is an example of the agricultural version that led to the form. Your blade has a hole in it to accommodate a ring to which was added a leather thong. The thong would be used to secure the weapon to the wearer's waist belt. The version shown below has the hole in the short arm of the spring instead of in the blade. It is etched with the classic Spanish warning: Si esta vibora te pica' no hay remedio en la botica (if this viper bites you, there's no remedy in the pharmacy). The carved detail at the end of the grip supposedly represents the head of a viper.

Here's some more detail on the history:
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Old 2nd May 2019, 03:35 PM   #4
Jim McDougall
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Spot on Mac!
I felt sure I had seen something like this in a museum in Arizona, and it was called something like a 'gut ripper' or some scary thing like that. That phrase about the viper is well known on Mexican knives it seems.
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Old 2nd May 2019, 08:14 PM   #5
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They are also still commonly used to harvest grapes and other crops.

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Old 20th March 2020, 01:54 AM   #6
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Thank you, Mac! Don't let my delayed response diminish the fact that I'm impressed by your spot-on identification. Well done.
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