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Ranger, Colonial, Prov., RI
Antique American Switchblades, by Mark Erickson, Identification & Value Guide, published by Krause Publications
The Paolantonio brothers came to the United States from Italy prior to 1912. They already had experience at making knives when they came to the country from one of the most famous knife producing cities in the world. Frosolone, Italy. The brothers, Frederick, Dominick and Antonio worked for the Empire Knife Company of Winstead, Connecticut for a few years. The brothers all left Empire and separately formed four separate knife companies between 1914 and 1926. 1926 the brothers formed Colonial Knife Company, located at 9 Calendar street in Providence.
Colonial Knife manufactured five basic models of switchblade in the 1940's and 1950's. They were one of two U.S. companies who were still manufacturing them on a large scale in 1958 when Congress banned interstate commerce and manufacturing for the purpose of interstate commerce, of the knives. How's that for irony? The two companies in the nation who still manufactured switchblades on a large scale, could still legally make them, but could only sell them in the state where they were manufactured and both companies were located in Rhode Island!
Many of the American switchblades have acquired colorful nicknames over the years. Some of my favorites are the ones associated with the Colonial switchblades. In the following list of knives I have included the length closed, tang stamp and nicknames in parenthesis. The eight basic patterns of switchblade knives Colonial produced were as follows:
1. 2 1/4-inch Snappy (fishtail)
2. 2 1/4-inch Snappy (bowtie)
3. 3 3/8-inch Shur Snap (cigar)
4. 4-inch Shur Snap (bowtie)
5. 4 1/8-inch Shur Snap (stubby)
6. 4 1/8-inch Shur Snap (fatjack)
7. 4 1/8-inch Shur Snap (stubby)
8. 5-inch Shur Snap (jumbo jack)
The names Shur Snap and Snappy were introduced in 1948. The 4 1/8-inch fatjack was made with two or more tang stampings besides the Shur Snap mentioned above. Those stamps are "Pronto" and "Jiffy" and these knives must have been made in smaller numbers because they are harder to find than the Shur Snaps. Wirth the addition of these two important variations there are a total of 10 knives that you'd have to collect to have a good representation of Colonials' switchblade lineup.
The Jumbo Jack and Stubby knives all have large round buttons. The fatjack knives, including Pronto and Jiffy, all have a smaller button with some being flat and some slightly rounded. The buttons on the rest of the Colonial Shur-Snap knives help to tell us at what stage of production they were made; early, middle or late. I like to refer to these times differences as generations, and there are four total.Those knives with the large brass buttons are the oldest. I call them first generation and they were made in the late 1940's and early 1950's. A large button other than brass would be second generation from the early 1950's. Small rounded buttons are the third generation from the mid 1950's, and small flat buttons are fourth generation and were made in the late 1950's. For the record the handles on these knives were NOT made of celluloid as many collectors think. I wanted to be sure so I did a fire test on several handles. Celluloid is extremely flammable and will ignite immediately upon contact with flame, while plastic will smoke. Also, the odors are very different.The Colonial handles are some sort of plastic, not celluloid. Interestingly, all of the Colonial switchblades have the brand name over the "Colonial" over "PROV USA" stamped on the front tang, but on most of the fishtails, jacks and Snappy's all that can be seen of the bottom stamp is "USA". During the manufacturing process groves must be cut into the tang of the blade for locking purposes and most of the time these grooves were cut right through "PROV", usually obliterating it, though sometimes part of it is still visible.
Fishtail with green swirl plastic handles and no bolsters. Knife has the small flat button, clip and brass liners. Mint condition value: $265
Fishtail with blue swirl plastic handles and no bolsters. Knife ahs small flat button, unusual flat clip blade (similar to Edgemaster) and brass liners. It is very late production and harder to find. Mint condition, value $275.00
Bowtie with black imitation stag plastic handles and time bolsters with finder guard. Large button, sabre ground blade and brass liners. Mint condition value $240.00
Fishtail with black imitation stag plastic handles and tin bolsters. Large button, sabre ground blade and brass liners. Mint condition value $240.00
Military Issue Knife General Purpose Model 2205
Military Issue Marlin Spike Knife Model 1757
Shur-Snap oxygen tank key and one hand operation Switchblade Knife
Colonial Knife Corp® 9 decades under the control and management of the Paolantonio family is the longest running knife company in the United States still operated and managed by the same family, Colonial Knife Company incorporated in 1926 by Antonio Paolantonio and his two brothers Domenic and Fredrick, 93 years and 4 generations later, the company continues the tradition of quality knife and tool manufacturing.
Why purchase the Colonial Knife brand? The Collectible rating for a Colonial Knife brand is very good along with being a knife that is made for being used everyday, the primary purpose of a knife is to cut, crappy steel or exotic, makes no difference if not properly hardened. At Colonial Knife, we are methodical about blade hardness, our grandfathers understood the importance of hardening steel and how to achieve the proper Rockwell hardness, the measuring of the blade strength through hardening of the steel. Our standards require Colonial Knife to achieve 58-60 C hardness, over 60 C and the cutting edge is prone to chipping, under 58 C, and the blade won't hold it's edge. A proper blade Rockwell Hardness ensures the customer is receiving the very best in their knife.