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  #1  
Old 05-13-2006, 12:13 PM
BoBlade BoBlade is offline
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Randall Bore No. 9 Early Johnson sheath?

"Conventional" thinking has it that Johnson first started providing brown button sheaths to Bo no earlier than 1962. However, there are sheaths with horizonal Randall logos and brown buttons documented to have left the shop as early as 1960. There has been a fair amount of debate and speculation as to who made those early sheaths. Joe Dorsky wrote several informative articles about these sheaths in consecutive RKS newsletters no's 60 & 61. There are a number of possibilities and none can be definitively ruled out without hard documantation (yet obtained) one way or another:
1. Heiser (using a Randall supplied stamp).
2. Heiser (shipping to Bo unmarked and then being stamped by the shop)
3. Maurice Johnson
4. Stockman (who was known to have made the early Ward Gay (Yukon Skinner) sheaths in 1959).
5. Another yet unidentified leathermaker.

All of this notwithstanding, there was most likely a scenario in the initial phases of Bo's relationship with Johnson that Johnson supplied "sample" sheaths upon which Bo would make his decision to sign Johnson on as a replacement to Heiser or not. At this time, Johnson was a harness maker and had no experience with making sheaths. He "might" have had numbered stamp dies, but he certainly would not have had a Randall logo stamp and brown buttons until Bo provided these to him. And would Bo have done this before Johnson "proved" himself? Doubtful. At the same time, Johnson still needed snaps for his samples. Since Bo was known to have never thrown anything away, chances are that he had some old snaps laying around that he had no production use for. The resultant sample sheaths would look like a Johnson sheath in construction, have model and length die stamps and non standard buttons. If the samples were decent, would Bo have thrown them away or used them? Most likely he would have used them. I now give you such a (3-6) sheath. Please compare it against the known early 60's 3-6 Johnson sheath next to it. The only noteable difference other than the stamp and snaps is the placement of the retaining snap (far right as opposed to the normal middle position). Note also that the snaps on the "unidentified" sheath are an identical match to small metal snaps painted brown that you sometimes see on C1943 Heiser and Southern Saddlery sheaths (Pic of the latter in Pete's book on page 67). All of the foregoing is again a lot of speculation. but it's kind of fun (at least to me) to come up with a scenario for an item like this. I'd sure like to hear other comments or thoughts.

Thanks and best,

Ron
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Johnson sheaths 001 (Custom).jpg (32.8 KB, 35 views)
File Type: jpg Johnson sheaths 002 (Custom).jpg (30.9 KB, 24 views)
File Type: jpg Johnson sheaths 006 (Custom).jpg (50.8 KB, 32 views)
File Type: jpg Johnson sheaths 005 (Custom).jpg (64.3 KB, 29 views)

Last edited by BoBlade; 05-18-2006 at 06:05 PM.
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  #2  
Old 05-15-2006, 10:06 AM
Aggiemike Aggiemike is offline
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Helo Ron!

Good topic as I have a sheath that has always baffled me. It is a Model 2 that I have the documentation fron the original owner that was ordered in 1960 and delivered in 1961. The sheath is Brown Button but unstamped. I am showing comparison with a Heiser And a Johnson. It is much cruder work than either of the other two. I have always wondered who made it.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Model 2 002.jpg (22.6 KB, 26 views)
File Type: jpg Model 2 006.jpg (29.2 KB, 22 views)
File Type: jpg Model 2 007.jpg (16.1 KB, 20 views)
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  #3  
Old 05-15-2006, 10:17 AM
Aggiemike Aggiemike is offline
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Oops, forgot the front view.

Last edited by Aggiemike; 05-15-2006 at 10:20 AM.
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  #4  
Old 05-15-2006, 09:44 PM
BoBlade BoBlade is offline
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Hi Mike,

No wonder it's had you baffled! In addition to the "cruder" part, it also seems like the leather is a little thinner than norm (please correct me if I'm wrong here). I think we can rule out Heiser or Johnson with a fair amount of confidence, so I guess the question boils down to whether it's a Stockman or some other guy that Bo was "trying out" at the time. I sure wish we had photos of a documented Stockman to compare it to! In any event, you certainly have a unique sheath there.

Best,

Ron
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  #5  
Old 05-16-2006, 02:22 PM
crutch tip crutch tip is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aggiemike
Helo Ron!

Good topic as I have a sheath that has always baffled me. It is a Model 2 that I have the documentation fron the original owner that was ordered in 1960 and delivered in 1961. The sheath is Brown Button but unstamped. I am showing comparison with a Heiser And a Johnson. It is much cruder work than either of the other two. I have always wondered who made it.

Mike -

What exactly is the documentation you have?

The sheath could be and probably is a Stockman as his work was cruder in comparison to either Heiser or Johnson. I think Stockman was the only "outside" sheathmaker of any quantity during the period in question. Stockman was local and available, and made a few sheaths until Maurice Johnson showed up on the scene.

Some still like to follow the fairy tale of some mystery sheath maker but I think the end of the rainbow points to a short time of probably 2-3 years when Stockman made possibly up to a few hundred sheaths.
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  #6  
Old 05-17-2006, 06:58 AM
Aggiemike Aggiemike is offline
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The documentation I have is an e-mail from the seller going into great detail about how he earned the money for the knife repairing buildings damaged after Hurricane Carla and was the knife was delivered to him while he was in basic training in early 1962. The reason I was questiong hime was that the blade was also plated. He advised that it came from the shop that way. He advised that there was a significant waiting period of at least 90 days after he ordered the knife.
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  #7  
Old 05-17-2006, 04:08 PM
crutch tip crutch tip is offline
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Mike -

in your first post you say the knife was delivered in 1961. In your third post you say 1962. That descrepancy can make a difference when trying to determine what may or may not be.

In any case, whether we can take what the original owner says as accurate information, the sheath still appears to be neither a Heiser or Johnson.

As for the blade being plated. If he didn't order it that way it is highly unlikey it was sent that way as all plating was done by an outside vendor and Bo wouldn't send a blade to be plated unless it was requested. Also, RMK recommened plating for display only. Did he say he ordered it plated?

Do you have a photo of the knife you can post? Of the whole front of the sheath? The throat area from the front?
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  #8  
Old 05-17-2006, 05:54 PM
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Melvin-Purvis Melvin-Purvis is offline
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Wink

(Doh, looks like I'm cross posting with Joe here...)

Mike,

In your original post, did you mean to say ?Ordered in (late) 1961 and delivered in (early) 1962?? The reason I ask is because of your last post (paraphrased) about the delivery taking place while the original owner was in basic training in 1962, after a wait of roughly 90 days?knowing that Hurricane Carla hit on Sept. 11th, 1961, and that the knife was paid for using money earned during the ensuing clean up, those dates would make a little more since?

As far as Joe?s comment about yours being a Stockman sheath, that is certainly one (likely) possibility. In past conversation, Joe stated that he has/had rough finished sheaths similar to yours that he attributed to being Stockman made. Being that Joe has seen more of these sheaths than I have, I?ll defer to his experience; yet, I have a sheath stamped with the horizontal RMK logo that is unlike any other brown button Heiser or Johnson sheath that I?ve seen to date.

Made of thinner, stiff, reddish harness leather, it?s constructed very unlike Ron?s sheath above, or the five or six known BB/JRB?s that we have, or have had, and in my opinion may also be a Stockman sheath. So, either Stockman got really good in short order, or it?s simply an early Johnson sheath unlike any others that I?ve seen to date.

I recently sent a photo compilation of these brown button sheaths to BoBlade; hopefully he?ll post them here as time permits. As to the actual number of sheaths built by Jim Stockman, and the duration of his RMK sheath building, I think that topic may still be subject to debate; although I do agree, Joe is probably pretty close here.

For everyone else,

Bob Gaddis made mention of a ?Stockman? making sheaths for RMK in both 1959 & 1961. Jim Taylor gave me the lead and I tracked down Mr. Stockman?s son, who quite vividly remembers both W.D. ?Bo? Randall, and ?When the Astronauts came by the shop to thank my dad for making the sheaths for their knives?. Since then, I?ve spoken in depth on numerous occasions with Bob Stockman, sheath maker Jim Stockman?s son, specifically about the sheath production dates and the duration of his father?s association with RMK.

Bob specifically remembers his father making two types of sheaths for ?Mr. Randall?, the first being copies of sheaths ?Made by some fellow up in Colorado?, whereby Jim Stockman was given sheaths by W.D. ?Bo? Randall, sheaths that were then disassembled and used as patterns for future RMK shop orders. However, the second, and far more prevalent type of Stockman sheath made, as Joe alluded to, could be considered ?one-off?s, customs, and prototypes?.

Further, Bob remembers that when Mr. Randall found a new local sheath maker up in Maitland sometime around early 1962, his father was happy that he could now go back to his mainstay harness and saddle business, as making knife sheaths for RMK, although bringing some degree of local fame, was taking away from normal operations. It should be kept in mind, however, that Jim Stockman was an established harness and saddle maker at the time, had been making knife sheaths on the side for years prior to doing business with the Randall Shop, and continued to make sheaths for them for (at least) four years. He wasn?t an amateur sheath maker by any stretch.

Bob Stockman is still alive and well btw, and currently runs the business his father started back in the early 1950?s, Stockman's Harness & Saddle, located in Orlando, FLA. Bob has a good memory of events such as those outlined above, including the small volume of sheaths actually produced for RMK between at least 1959, possibly earlier, and early 1962 (?Probably at least several hundred I?d say??). That said, Bob can be reached at work via phone at (407) 295-0331 if anyone here cares to verify or collaborate what I?ve written.

I?ve also spoken with both Bob Gaddis and Gary Randall about Stockman, late Heiser deliveries, and early M. Johnson production. When I asked Bob where he got the original reference information about ?Stockman?, he said it was from notes in Bo?s ledger. This is not a ?mystery sheath maker? folks, this is an actual person that existed and made sheaths for RMK, albeit on a limited basis for a short duration of time. When I asked if he (Bob) recalled seeing any information as to the quantities of sheaths produced by Stockman, and if there was information therein referring to dates for the last Heiser, or first Johnson sheath deliveries; he said that he didn?t recall. Further, he stated that he hadn?t been interested in that degree of sheath detail during his book research, as in his opinion it was inconsequential at the time.

I mentioned he had written that the last Heiser sheath deliveries were in the mid to late 1960?s, and asked if that information wasn?t from the ledger was there another source? Also, could it be that he meant the last deliveries from RMK occurred during that period, but that the last deliveries to RMK had actually occurred in the very early 1960?s? Bob responded to the effect that those dates certainly could be correct, but suggested that I call Gary Randall for additional information. Bob will be at the Blade Show in Atlanta again this year, so someone here may want to ask him for more clarification about this topic, if need be. (Btw, for those of that don?t know him, Bob really is one heck of a nice guy, and very generous with his time if he?s not preoccupied with politics or the ranch in Mancos.)

When I called Gary Randall with the same questions, mentioning that I?d recently spoken with Mr. Gaddis, he asked that I not quote him on this, as he was busy at the moment and would be working from memory. He did not remember a ?Stockman?, leading me to believe, like Bob Stockman had mentioned previously, that Jim Stockman had stopped making sheaths for RMK by, or at about the same time that Gary started working at the shop in the summer of 1962. When asked about the last Heiser deliveries taking place in the early 1960?s, in or around 1962, he said (paraphrased) that could very well be the case, although he wasn?t quite certain, but yes, that sounded about right. With regards to M. Johnson coming on board in the summer of 1962, Gary said that Gaddis had already covered that part of the story, thanked me for my time, and hung up.

However, like the good Mr. Dorsky, I also think that Johnson was likely making sheaths by late 1961, possibly prototype versions like the one shown in Ron?s original post above. You guys, if we go back four years to the beginning of this public debate on ?Who made this unmarked sheath?, I think that we?ll find a few things to be true?

1. H.H. Heiser Co, owned by Denver Dry Goods after 1944, sold to Keyston Bros in 1955, and again to the Lichenberger Co. in 1959, made unmarked sheaths during or shortly thereafter each of those management transition periods.
2. Jim Stockman made sheaths patterned on Heiser sheaths, at first unmarked and later horizontally stamped with the RMK logo (these sheaths may have been stamped at the shop after delivery, for 1962 sheaths)
3. Maurice Johnson made some unmarked test sheaths before getting the RMK contract, and then stamped his first ones using the Stockman method (which may also have been stamped by RMK workers)
4. Between 1959 & 1962, all three makers were producing unmarked sheaths.

That was the original question, who made the sheath, correct? So, with regards to the unmarked sheaths from this period, I?d have to say that if it looks like a Heiser, it?s a Heiser; if it looks like a rough version of a Heiser, it?s probably a Stockman; and if it looks like an early Johnson?well then, it?s probably an early Johnson.

Or not

Last edited by Melvin-Purvis; 05-17-2006 at 05:59 PM.
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  #9  
Old 05-17-2006, 09:49 PM
BoBlade BoBlade is offline
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Sheldon,

I'm a bit surprised you decided to publish your book on our forum

I'm not in a position to post those photos you sent, so please try to do this yourself if you don't mind. I think a number of people would be interested in seeing them.

Thanks,

Ron
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  #10  
Old 05-17-2006, 11:00 PM
crutch tip crutch tip is offline
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I want to address some of Sheldon's comments.


1. H.H. Heiser Co, owned by Denver Dry Goods after 1944, sold to Keyston Bros in 1955, and again to the Lichenberger Co. in 1959, made unmarked sheaths during or shortly thereafter each of those management transition periods.

How did you come about this information? It would seem odd just because the company was sold that the new owners while depending on name recognition and most likely with the same employees would stop normal business practice of marking leather products with their logo and then resume that practice some time later. Doesn't make any sense at all.

2. Jim Stockman made sheaths patterned on Heiser sheaths, at first unmarked and later horizontally stamped with the RMK logo (these sheaths may have been stamped at the shop after delivery, for 1962 sheaths)

I don't know that Stockman ever had an RMK stamp. I need to think on this one and it is a possibilty but I don't believe he did. I tend ti think Johnson was the first to use the RMK stamp.

3. Maurice Johnson made some unmarked test sheaths before getting the RMK contract, and then stamped his first ones using the Stockman method (which may also have been stamped by RMK workers)

I don't think they were necessarily "test" sheaths but Johnson supplanted Stockman and made the custom and one off type stuff. (More info to follow - see below)

No RMK worker stamped sheaths I was told. If a sheath came in w/o a logo, it went out w/o a logo.

4. Between 1959 & 1962, all three makers were producing unmarked sheaths.

I don't agree with this statement Sheldon. Heiser had no reason not to mark their sheaths. Not saying one didn't slip through but I would say a miniscule amount if any at all. I don't think Stockman ever marked a sheath. Perhaps his son might recall this. Johnson probably made some sheaths that were unmarked but I think they are very few.

I have more information for the RKS newletter article I have planned to write for the last year or so. Maybe I will get it together and hopefully put this debate to rest. A nap?
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  #11  
Old 05-17-2006, 11:52 PM
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Melvin-Purvis Melvin-Purvis is offline
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Cool

Ron,

Sorry if that was long winded and somewhat disjointed...it came out all in one take at work while waiting for our new dyno?s to spin down...with a correction made after I realized that I'd used a lower case b when referencing your online 'handle'. The typos are all mine, as unfortunately I ?cain't 'pell fer beans?...

Joe,

I came about the Heiser Co. history and logo identification info on a vintage Western Saddle/Leatherworks auction website, and followed up on it thru the City of Denver Public records department.

Sorry that I don?t have specifics in front of me, but I?m busy switching back and forth between American Idol and ?The Amazing Race? finale as this is being typed...

Bob Stockman mentioned the RMK stamp; like you, I thought it was Johnson too. As to whom stamped which sheaths with what stamp, I dunno, as I wasn?t there.

Speculative conjecture on my part? You betcha. Did Randall have a sheath stamp, ya sure, they had it made. Did they use it at the shop early on? I dunno, again, I wasn?t there...but that Heiser/Keyston/Lichtenburger stamp looked like crud IMO, and it?s likely that ?Bo? felt the same way...

That Heiser had no reason to not mark their products holds water if they were still Heiser, but unfortunately, they weren?t...they were simply another conglomerate holding company by the early 1960?s. (please see this thread: http://www.knifeforums.com/forums/sh...eyston/#839521

I look forward to seeing your write-up in a future RKS newsletter Joe, as I hold few RMK truths dearly, and am always willing to learn something new...

Shel
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  #12  
Old 05-18-2006, 12:15 AM
BoBlade BoBlade is offline
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Sheldon,

One of my many character flaws is an attempt to inject a little warped humor whenever possible. No apology necessary. I am pleased to see this exchange going on.

Ron
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Old 05-18-2006, 08:35 AM
crutch tip crutch tip is offline
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Sheldon -

you brought up some interesting points for discussion and non are necessarily w/o merit but are open for debate.

I still maintain the brand recognition is paramount to a comany's survival regardless if said company becomes a subsidiary of another. You see examples all the time in business where companies are acquired by another yet still retain their brand. Daimler Benz did a deal where they acquired a major stake in Chrysler. They aren't putting the Mercedes logo on Chrysler, Dodge, or Jeep vehicles. That is another. Chrylser acquired Jeep years ago under Iacoca's reign but still retained the brand name JEEP.

The point is that Heiser was Hesier regardless who was running the show and it is evidenced by the thousands of Heiser marked sheaths from the 40's, 50's, and into the early 60's.

I have seen the Keyton logo on a few sheaths and never gave them much mind and was not aware of the history you presented here. Good work. I just figured it was some anomoly Heiser did because one of their old stamps was worn out and they were waiting on a new one or whatever. In any case, a sheath with that particular stamp is so few and far between, I still maintain it is an anomoly but may in fact be part of the driving force for Bo to have a RMK logo stamp made and more importantly, may give some further insight behind Bo's search for a local sheath maker. Consider this, is it possible supply was interrupted on occasion due to a sale of the Heiser Co.? Very well could be and I am sure that didn't sit well with Bo. He had had enough supply issues during the WWII era and on occasion after that.

Just don't know if Bo really cared what stamp Heiser used on a sheath. I think his concern was getting a sheath maker closer to home and the RMK logo was function of that venture.

It would be interesting to see if Stockman's son can difinitively say yes, we had an RMK logo stamp we used on sheaths. That is 45+ years ago and with not many sheaths made in the scheme of things, it may be hard for him to accurately recollect.
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Old 05-18-2006, 10:00 AM
Aggiemike Aggiemike is offline
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I am sorry for the confusing time line post. I will be specific. The original owner states:

" The knife was ordered in the summer of 1961 while I briefly lived in Texas. My actual orders to reort to Lackland were right sfter Thanksgiving and I was still in my eight weeks of basic training in early 1962 when it was delivered to me."

As to the chromed blade he adds:

"I don't recall if the knife was ordered as a chromed model, but then again I cannot recall if there ever had been a different finish when I received it."
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Model 2 004.jpg (39.6 KB, 15 views)
File Type: jpg Model 2 005.jpg (59.9 KB, 17 views)
File Type: jpg Model 2 008.jpg (48.8 KB, 18 views)
File Type: jpg Model 2 009.jpg (49.6 KB, 10 views)
File Type: jpg Model 2 010.jpg (50.7 KB, 14 views)
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  #15  
Old 05-18-2006, 05:40 PM
crutch tip crutch tip is offline
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Thanks for the photos Mike. That sheath definitely is a Hesier "copy" and I would say it is probably a Stockman. Judging by Sheldon's account of Stockman getting Heiser sheaths to take apart for patterns, it makes perfect sense. It would be interesting to see if his son could say what is or isn't if he could see it in hand and examine it.

Using your timeline, I would say Johnson was already making a few sheaths for RMK and that sheath may have been in the bin or ......?

In the photo it doens't appear to be a chromed blade. It looks as though someone took some metal polish to it. The chrome on the knives was a dull finish, not bright like a car bumper.

Last edited by crutch tip; 05-18-2006 at 05:42 PM.
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