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  #61  
Old 03-02-2019, 08:01 PM
crutchtip crutchtip is offline
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I agree on most all points with Sam on this.

I do disagree that Randall stamped Astros weren't made until 1963 or later. It is apparent the 7 that went to the Astronauts were, and we know a replacement went to one of them. Randall does not forge an exact number of blades, particularly one of such importance. So, there was some number more Orlando blades available for use other than the 7(8) original order.

To say that an Astro sans scales is a "kit knife" is inaccurate and questionable at face value.

I have a very early Astro Sam has examined that came from the original owner that is purported to have been without scales as the family member remember it since acquisition. There is a back story to this that is may have been gifted to the owner by Shepard himself, as they were friends in some capacity. I cannot at this time prove it beyond a doubt, but if the family ever lets go of some of the supporting docs they have, it may come to fruition.

That being said, this is only the second Astro I recall coming in a double brown button Maurice Johnson sheath. Obviously one of the earliest available to the "public", and if actually a gift from Shepard, most certainly one of if not the earliest in the hands of someone as far as I know was outside of direct involvement in the space program. Again,if the family releases the documents, that may be proven otherwise.
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  #62  
Old 03-14-2019, 10:04 PM
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samg samg is offline
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IMG-20190314-225657
Randall book by Bob Gaddis, page 187.


It appears that Bo sent a second Astro to the Smithsonian for display in 1961 without scales.
We have photos of the one with brown Micarta, but I have not seen the second Scaleless Astro.
Has anyone been to the Air & Space museum in the past to see it?
For the past few years the Freedom 7 (Alan Shepard's) capsule has been at the JFK museum in Boston Ma. Don't know if the knife is still part of the display, or in storage, or if the museum disposed of the knife.
I will be reaching out to the museum to find out

https://www.jfklibrary.org/visit-mus...-space-capsule

This is the Orlando hand forged Astro with brown Micarta in the Smithsonian

IMG-20190314-233143

Last edited by samg; 03-15-2019 at 08:22 AM.
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  #63  
Old 03-15-2019, 11:33 AM
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samg samg is offline
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On page 186 in Gaddis' Randall Made Knives book, we see a letter from the Air & Space Curator Kenneth Newland referring to the 2nd Astro made as a replica for the museum, made as a "more accurate display."
Referring to the Scaleless Astro which was displayed in the capsule itself, and the other Micarta Astro being displayed to illustrate the workmanship of the knife.

IMG-20190315-112136

Below is John Glenn's Astro, also on display at the Smithsonian.

IMG-20190315-122658
Survival knife carried by astronaut John H. Glenn Jr., during the first U.S. manned orbital space flight, Feb. 20, 1962

I have sent a request for information from the Smithsonian. It will take a few weeks for them to respond.
It appears that Bo sent 2 Astros to the museum, one with scales, one without, and the 3rd is from John Glenn.
I do not know the status of these knives, whether they are still displayed or in storage, or disposed of. Hopefully I will find out the status.
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  #64  
Old Yesterday, 01:58 PM
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I heard back from the curator for Mercury spacecraft and components at the Smithsonian museum.

My original query about the status of the Randall knives at the Smithsonian. You can see that I thought that the Smithsonian had 3 Astros, as one is online as coming from John Glenn. Mr Neufeld clears that up in the following emails.

**My original query to the Smithsonian**

Hello,

I am researching a knife that was gifted to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in August 1961.

.The knife of interest was a replica of the actual survival knife made for the Mercury Astronauts.

I know of 2 Randall knives on display, one flown by John Glenn, and the other one with the Freedom 7 display from Alan Shepard's Mercury flight of May 5, 1961.

I have photos of both of those knives.

The one of interest to me is a Randall knife, made for display with the Freedom 7 capsule that was gifted to the museum's then Curator Mr Kenneth Newland by Mr Bo Randall in August 1961. Mr Randall suggested that the knife be displayed with survival items in the handle cavity cutout. Whereas the other 2 Randall knives that I described above have brown Micarta handles bolted onto the tang of the knife, this 3rd knife was displayed in the Freedom 7 capsule without the brown bolted on Micarta handle. It was displayed with survival materials in the bare metal handle.

I have a copy of a letter from Mr Newland to Mr Randall about this knife. I am attempting to attach a copy of this letter on this email

If you have a photo of this knife, I would appreciate a copy of it.

Im not sure of the status of the original Freedom 7 capsule display or it's location, but would appreciate information about it's location so I can plan on a visit to see it. It seems that Mr Newland in 1961 planned to display this knife in the capsule.

Thanks so much for your help.


**Mr Neufeld**

Dear Sam: I am the curator for Mercury spacecraft and components. We actually have only one knife, the replica you mention of the one carried by Shepard. It has an accession number of A19620001000. It was once mistakenly reaccessioned as John Glenn's survival knife. Some years ago I found that it was the same one and I had the duplicate number deaccessioned.

For photos of it, see the public version of the collections record:

https://airandspace.si.edu/collectio...onaut-survival

The Freedom 7 capsule is currently on exhibit at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, and will return here at the end of 2019, probably. It will be exhibited in our new Destination Moon gallery beginning in 2022. But the hatch was reportedly lost at sea during the recovery process. We never got it. I believe that is why Mr. Randall gave us a duplicate.

I hope that helps. Your attachment didn't come through to me, in case you want to send it directly.

Thanks,

Michael Neufeld
Senior Curator
NASM Space History Dept.


**My follow-up**

Hello Mr Neufeld. Thanks so much for your reply.

The knife you are referring to, accession number A19620001000 is the same knife in both online photos? One photo shows it with the handle opened, displaying the tang, the other photo shows it completely assembled. See photo. How is it displayed now?

The other photo is of the letter from the Curator at the time Mr. Newland who indicated that one of the 2 Astros would be displayed in Alan Shepard's capsule. The other was to be displayed to demonstrate the workmanship.

The other photo is of other discussion of the 2nd Astro.

Both Astro knives were sent to Mr. Newland. One with scales, obviously the one you have on display, and another without scales to be displayed in Alan Shepard's capsule.

Is one of the Astros on display in the original capsule?

Thank you again Mr Neufeld for researching and providing me with information on these knives.

Thanks, Sam

**I added in a second email**

Hi Mr Neufeld, I neglected in my earlier email to you today to respond to your statement about the hatch on Freedom 7. Yes it was lost when Alan Shepard blew the hatch. It was secured to the inside of the hatch.

A number of years ago Gus Grissoms Astro was recovered, after spending several decades at the bottom of the ocean. It was found inside the capsule. According to Grissoms account, he removed it from the hatch, as he anticipated leaving with it, but when his capsule began taking on water, his survival instincts took over and he dropped his Astro inside of the capsule.

Both suborbital flights had the knife fastened to the inside of the hatch. Starting with John Glenns orbital flight, they were from then on fastened to the survival kit.
Thanks again,
Sam

**Mr Neufeld response**

Thanks for the information. Yes it is the same knife. I donít know why the handle is loose in the more recent photo. Maybe the rivets/screws became loose. Maybe the earlier photo was staged.

Liberty Bell is at Kansas Cosmosphere if you want to ask them about that knife.

Thanks, Mike Neufeld

**My response**

Thank you Mr Neufeld.

Do you have any knowledge of the 2nd Astro without the scales/handle that was displayed inside the original Freedom 7 capsule, as referenced in the 1961 letter from the then Curator Mr Newland to Bo Randall in the attachment that I sent you?

That was quite a story about Gus Grissoms knife being recovered after being submerged in salt water for 30+ years.
Thanks again,
Sam

Mr Neufeld:

No. Iím not aware of a second knife. We only accessioned the one. It is possible it was a loan at the time.

Thanks, Mike Neufeld

**My Response**

If that 2nd knife was placed inside of Freedom 7 as part of the permanent display with the capsule, would it be part of an inventory that you would have record of?
Thanks again,
Sam

**Mr Neufeld**

Itís not inside the spacecraft. We donít have another unless they are in the survival kits from later missions.

Thanks, Mike Neufeld.


So that's it. It seems that the 2nd Astro that was sent to the Smithsonian has disappeared into the dustbin of time.

Regards, Sam
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