F & I War / Rev War Folding Knife

F & I War / Rev War Folding Knife


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Early folding knife which was a favorite among soldiers in the F & I War and the American Revolutionary War. The knife often called the Navajo is one of the oldest folding patterns that had its beginning in the 16th century in the Andalusian region of southern Spain and was typical 12” to 24” long when opened.

The earliest Navajo knives worked on the principle of the simple peasant’s knife, with no backspring to hold the blade in place once opened. With the development of reliable spring steel in the 18th century the Navajo knife was fitted with a backspring making the design much more useful. The new spring-back Navajo knife proved very popular throughout Spain and was later exported to or manufactured in other countries as well including France. By the third quarter of the 18th century the Navajo knife was fitted with a locking mechanism to keep the blade from folding.

Technically, the Navajo knife consisted of a curved handle, originally made of wood, horn and brass with a forged blade. Various painted patterns or figured carvings on bone and horn were applied to the curved handles. A distinctive feature of the knife was the presence of a metal pommel with a ball at the end.

This folder has no locking mechanism thus placing it origin in the early to mid-18th century. This knife may have been made in France as it has a French cartouche engraved in the horn and the engraving on the bone is patterned after the French scroll and would have been imported to America for use in the F & I War / American Revolutionary War.  Found in Frederick County, Virginia, one piece of the bone is missing on one side and a small piece is missing from the other side  as shown in the photographs. Otherwise, the knife is in remarkable condition with great patina and far better than most of the large 18th century Navajo knives found today. The knife is 17” long when open and has an 8” blade.  Great 18th Century collectible from the American Wars.




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