The #78 “Hunting and Combat Knife”
Fred Fisher, Brian Guth, and Dan Lago, 4-0-2020
This iconic Queen hunting knife was first produced in 1955 and left production in the shift to collector knives in 1978. The story was that Harry Mathews took a rare vacation down to Florida and came back with a similar knife made by Randall. He said, “He can’t make enough, so we will just help out.” The knives sold very well for Queen until an embargo on stag handles from Germany caused the company to shift to the wood handle (Fred Sampson, 2020). You can learn more about Randall’s knives – see references.
This knife was an unusual knife for Queen Cutlery since most of their fixed blade knives were smaller and “just enough to get the job done.” They were also emphasizing fine tableware at the time with “Deluxe” and “formica” series. The knife had a 7″ stainless steel blade and totaled just over 11.5″ with a massive “beefsteak” round stag handle. Click Here for the catalog summary:
It is said that all the blades were produced at the time of the first run and not a regular annual production item. Also the stag handles were expensive and in limited supply, so eventually, the handle material was shifted to a stabilized wood called “formica” by the company – some collectors have called this material “linoleum”, but it was clearly not as popular as the original stag and was not produced as long, so surprisingly, this is the harder knife to find today.
The sheath was also special with a white leather lacing – the only sheath of that type that Queen ever produced. (See figures 1, 2, and 3)
Figure 1. #78, Two “Hunting and Combat Knife” with stag handle and original laced leather sheath. The knife on the left, has a “QSteel” tang stamp. The knife on the right has the earlier “Queen Steel” Tang stamp, perhaps from the first year this knife was offered 1955. Both knives are shown with original Queen Cutlery Company two-piece boxes with an “easy -open” cutout.
The #78, Rare and Beautiful
This summary also documents an extremely rare version of the #78. With a stacked leather handle and aluminum pommel (see figures 2 and 3). This knife, has been seen one time in over 70 total years of Queen Collecting – it is RARE. This knife was purchased from a seller in Niagara Falls, NY, from the contents of a storage locker he recently bought. He knew nothing about the history of the knife.
Investigation is continuing to document if this is a prototype at time of changing handle materials on this model at either before or after the formica model was produced. The other possibility is this knife was completed by a skillful maker with parts sold by Queen in the 1970s.
Figure 2. Three #78s. Left, is the formica version with pommel; Center, is rare leather handle with pommel; Right is original stag handle. All are shown with their correct sheath
Figure 3. Three versions of the #78 (Mark side & back of sheaths)
The formica version on the right, shows a style used by Queen in the “Gamekeeper” series, with black finish and double snaps and embossed “Q.” In the Center, is the rare leather-handled knife with a sheath that is very similar to the gamekeeper sheaths, but with a rich brown finish embossed “basketweave” pattern. The stitching and location of the hanging loop seems to match up very well with the factory sheath in both these images. The knife shows very similar colors of spacers used to expand the handle material to the size required, as shown in figure 5, below. On the left, is the original stag knife with the leather lacing.
Figure 4, shows a close-up of the rare #78.
Figure 4 shows a model #84 – a “perma gloss leather” version of the Queen hunting knife made at the same time. The shape and color of the leather handle is very much like the rare #78. It also seems very unlikely that a parts maker would have access to a supplier who make a sheath so similar to the gamekeeper sheaths. This is an investigation worth pursuing. We would appreciate your input – especially if you have a similar knife to share.
Figure 5. #84, Leather perma-gloss version of common Queen hunting knife made at the same time as the #78.
Fred R. Sampson, (2020) Personal communication.
Randall History, https://www.randallknives.com/randall-history/