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Old 11-09-2011, 05:52 PM
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Triubte to Janie & Rhett Stidham & the RKS

Hi all!

It's been almost seven months since Rhett Stidham passed away. First and foremost his loss is deeply felt by his devoted wife Janie, but he is also missed by all RMK lovers around the world.

Unfortunately Rhett's death resulted in the demise of the Randall Knife Society, which he founded and administered, aided and abetted by Janie. Thousands of RMK enthusiasts were members over a 21 year span and a wealth of knowledge was created in the quarterly RKS Newsletter that were mailed to members beginning in 1989.

I feel that this is an appropriate time to pay a tribute to Rhett and Janie, as well as the RKS for the wonderful contribution they made to Randall collectors all over the globe.

When I first became interested in RMK back in the fall of 2002, and even before I had ever seen a Randall "in the flesh", I accidently discovered the Randall Knife Society website via Google.

The photos of this amicable looking couple, encouraging folks to join, made the RKS seem like a natural place for collectors to share their passion and learn all about Randalls.

My very first Randall related purchase was a Zippo lighter adorned with the RKS logo on eBay.

After starting my Randall collection with a "Smithsonian" and soon after a "Trailblazer", I finally felt "qualified" to join the RKS, which I did in April 2003.

This was my first contact with Rhett and it was the beginning of my relationship with a man whom I came to respect very much.

I was fortunate to have met Rhett and Janie in Atlanta at the 2005 Blade show, and found them both to be very warm and friendly. I have fond memories of watching Rhett in action, examining knives with avid collectors at the RKS mixer. I also remember Rhett presiding over the annual RKS meeting, where it was obvious that he shared the enthusiasm for RMK that all of the members exuded.

Here are a couple of photos I took of Rhett and Janie at Blade:






I'll tell you more about the first photo later on in this tribute.


I've since enjoyed telephone conversations with Rhett in which his great sense of humour was always apparent.

I will always remember Rhett's down to earth good nature and will always be appreciative of his acceptance of me as just a fellow Randall enthusiast and a human being.



PART I

THE RKS NEWSLETTERS (1989-2010)





Issue #3 July 1989 and #88 December 2010 are the in foreground.



As you can see these newsletters stack up into quite a pile. I'm missing six of the total eighty-eight issues, including the first two and #'s 13, 32, 33 and 38.



The following photos will give you an idea of the extent of the Randall information covered.

by the newsletters:












Continued below in next post:

Last edited by Moosehead; 11-22-2011 at 05:41 PM.
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Old 11-09-2011, 05:56 PM
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PART I continued:


















PART II of this tribute will follow on this thread, but in the meantime please feel free to add your thoughts about Rhett, Janie and the RKS.

Cheers!

David


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Last edited by Moosehead; 11-22-2011 at 05:39 PM.
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Old 11-14-2011, 12:47 PM
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Hi folks!

For those of you who may be interested in exploring the vast amount of information contained in the RKS newsletters, a CD was made about a decade ago containing the first 40 issues from 1989 to 1998. Each newsletter appears as a Microsoft Word document when you open it.

The CD also contains photos of all of the Randall Made Knives catalogues during the period 1939 to 1998, including every page. There are a total of 916 photos containg a wealth of information.

Produced by InterSquareProducts, the CD is entitled "The Randall Knife Information Collection" and was fully endorsed by the Randall Knife Society.

After a Google search, I discovered that the CD is apparently still available from InterSquare for US $34.95. See here: InterSquare

It's definitely a great information tool for RMK collectors.

Cheers!

David

P.S. Part II of this trubute will follow in due time.


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Last edited by Moosehead; 11-22-2011 at 05:39 PM.
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Old 11-14-2011, 04:08 PM
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David,

I've used that CD more times than I can count. It's been an invaluable resource for Randall knowledge.

Best,

Ron
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Old 11-16-2011, 02:51 PM
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Hi all!

Welcome to Part II (The Club Knives):

Belonging to Rhett and Janie's Randall Knife Society entitled members to more than just the quarterly newsletters.

In December 1990 the RKS had grown to 850 members and Rhett with the full cooperation of Gary Randall was able to offer a specially designed "Club Knife" to members. The first club "Fighter" knife in carbon steel was offered with either stag or black Micarta handles and came with a sheath stamped with the RKS logo on the back.. The grind proved to be very popular and the knife eventually became the "Combat Companion" which is still offered by RMK in their non-catalogue insert. 564 Stag handled and 436 Micarta handled club knives were made for a total of 1,000 knives. As with all the club knives that followed each knife's blade was etched with a serial number, and the member had the choice of having his/her membership number etched as well.

In May of 1994 RKS members were offered another opportunity to order a new club knife, also with a similar choice of handles but with a stainless blade. This time the RKS logo was stamped on the front of the no-hone pocket sheaths. This grind is now the "GTR", named after Gary T. Randall and can still be ordered as a non-catalogue knife. A total of 636 club knives, comprised of 298 stag and 338 Micarta handled were produced.

1997 saw the creation of RKS Club Knife III, inspired by Scagel's knives. The design proved to be very popular and this knife is the forerunner of Randall's "Trailblazer", Model #27. A total of 860 of the RKS III were crafted.

In December of 2000, members had the choice of stag or leather handles for the latest club knife (RKS IV), which was another fighter with a very long 8" blade. 816 stag and 384 leather handled Fighters were made, for a total of 1,200.

In August 2004, the final (sadly) club knife, RKS V was offered to the membership, which by now had grown to over 2,500 active members. It was a full tang miniature which my wife likes as a user. This knife inspired the full sized "Woodsman", Model #28. A total of 1,500 mini RKS Vs were produced.

So thanks to Rhett, not only are there some very neat and collectible knives out there for folks to find and enjoy, but several have served as inspiration for RMK to continue the designs in their regular offerings.


Below, thanks to old photos by Steve Peters (and anonymous RKS member #1209), is a complete collection of the first seven club knives and their sheaths (I'll have take some photos of my mini RKS V and post them on this thread later):


















Part III of this tribute will follow on this thread.

In the meantime your comments and observations would be most appreciated. Thanks!

Cheers!

David


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Last edited by Moosehead; 11-22-2011 at 05:38 PM.
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Old 11-16-2011, 05:57 PM
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Part II continued:

Whoops!

No need to post any photos of my RKS V club knife...

I just discovered I had saved the photos that Rhett posted on his original RKS Forum of the prototype of the RKS V and three possible sheath configurations, none of which were picked. So here they are:











I also found this RKS V is my photo stash! It's a RKS V with a Rick Bowles scrim and the ultimately chosen sheath.







Outstanding scrim n'est pas? Rick take a bow:


Part III of this tribute will follow on this thread.

In the meantime your comments and observations would be most appreciated. Thanks!

Cheers!

David


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Last edited by Moosehead; 11-22-2011 at 05:37 PM.
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Old 11-19-2011, 04:03 PM
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Buckle up folks, here's Part III (RKS Memorabilia):


One of the neat things about collecting is the opportunity to find things which are related to your main collection area and are long out of production, one time offerings, or just difficult to obtain.

Over the twenty year span of the Randall Knife Society, Rhett and Janie offered members various items in addition to the club knives with which to dress up and enhance their collections.

One of the first of these memorabilia was a solid pewter belt buckle commemorating the original club name and logo: "THE RANDALL KNIFE SOCIETY OF AMERICA". The January 1992, Issue #13 of the RKS newsletter contained the following announcement:


" PEWTER BELT BUCKLE PROMOTION

A genuine solid pewter belt buckle is being offered to the RKSA membership. The buckle is pictured below actual size (3-1/2 inches long by 2-1/2 inches wide) and fits 1-3/4 inch wide leather. In keeping with the high standards of the craftsmanship of Randall Made Knives the highest grades of quality material have been used. Solid pewter as you know never tarnishes and never requires polishing.




This is a one time offering and will not be repeated. This should make this buckle a very collectible item. The total number of buckles produced will be the exact amount ordered by you. No extra buckles will be ordered. The order deadline for this buckle is February 21, 1992. A check for $19.95 must accompany your order. Canadian and International members insurance and postage rates will be higher (see order form). This only gives you a couple of weeks to get your orders in. The buckles will be shipped to you in May or June due to my being out of town on our heavy show schedule.

I, Rhett Stidham have shown this buckle to several members and all of the response has been favorable. The workmanship is of very high quality and the finish is beautiful. One member suggested that I offer the buckle for $35.00, but was surprised when I told him it would be offered at less than one half that price. The price will be $17.00 plus $2.95 shipping and handling for a total of $19.95. The buckle will have a nice flannel carrying bag and a gift box. You may also have your membership number on the back of the buckle at no extra charge. Membership number only please (no names)..."


I was fortunate to obtain two of these buckles on eBay several years ago. According to the April 1992 newsletter, Rhett stated that a total of 368 buckles were sold.


[IMG][/IMG]









These buckles are so solid, they might be bullet proof!



In late 1995 RKS members were offered this leather belt buckle crafted by Greg Gutcher, Randall's official sheathmaker.





Then in October 1996, Rhett offered this lighter coloured version which Greg created:





More interesting RKS memorabilia to come....

In the meantime, please feel free to contribute to this tribute.

Cheers!

David


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Last edited by Moosehead; 11-23-2011 at 07:12 PM.
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Old 11-22-2011, 05:34 PM
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It's time to light up folks!

Part III continued...

To his credit Rhett was never one for political correctness. So the October l995 issue #28 of the RKS newsletter contained a colourful full page insert offering members a cool chrome Zippo lighter, enamelled with the society's logo. It came in a metal box with a cardboard slip-on cover.









The insert also offered a small to pin with the RKS logo to anyone signing up a new member. I've yet to see one of these pins either "in the flesh" or for sale. If you have one please post a photo of it here.



I obtained the lighter that was offered in the insert (shown in the two photos below) on eBay five years ago. Unlike Randall knives, whose date of creation is often difficult to pin down, all Zippos are marked with the month and year of production. This one was made in May of 1995.







In the following years there were at least three more production runs of these lighters. The second was in 2002, the third in 2004, and and I believe last one was in 2006. These all come in a black plastic holder.


Below is the 2002 lighter which is the very first item I obtained that had to do with Randall knives.






Here are the backs of the 1995 and 2002 lighters with their seals still intact.





Whether one smokes or not, these lighters definitely make neat mementos to both Randall and Zippo collecting nuts alike. They do appear for sale on eBay from time to time.

More of this tribute to Rhett, Janie and the RKS to follow... In the meantime pass the smokes.

Cheers!

David


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Last edited by Moosehead; 11-24-2011 at 03:01 PM.
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Old 11-24-2011, 03:23 PM
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Hi folks!

Welcome to Part IV...

During the first decade of the RKS, Rhett was determined to build up the membership so more collectors could benefit from the shared knowledge. New members were encouraged to contribute articles to the newsletters and many did. An expanded RKS also created a network of collectors which facilitated trades, sales, information exchanges, and the search for that elusive Randall.

To this end Rhett organized a number of Membership Drives which offered very significant prizes to those who helped sign up new members. The prizes were specially created Randall knives and the winner's name was picked by a drawing.

Rick Bowles, who helped Rhett and the RKS right from its beginnings, was involved with the first special knife in April 1991. Rick did a fabulous scrim of "Sitting Bull" on an ivory handled "Bowie". The hilt and buttcap was engraved by the late Tom Leschorn. The model #12-9" was a new version of the "Sportsman's Bowie", but it had a stainless blade ground like a model #14. At that time it could only be ordered with a handle scrimmed by Rick.

This knife was provided by the late Tom Clinton, authorized dealer and outstanding collector of RMK. The knife is pictured in newsletter issues #9 and #11. The knife came with a remarkable oak leaf sheath crafted by Greg Gutcher and both are depicted in Issue #12. This first knife, scrim, engraving and sheath were all donated by the aforementioned gentlemen. Membership drive prizes were funded by the RKS in subsequent years.

I hope Rick will provide us with more information and photos of this incredible knife, as well as well as the rest of his contributions to the following membership drives.


The 1991 winner of the second membership drive knife was awarded with this model #4-7" with a spectacular looking stag handle which Rhett supplied to the shop . A photo of this knife first appeared in newsletter issue #13.










Thanks to "Knifekid" for the photos which I copied from his old website. I actually had a chance to purchase this beauty from Perry's site but stupidly passed on it.

Two knives were given as prizes for the 1992-93 membership drive. One was a #12-6" "Little Bear" with a Ron Myer carved handle of a Bald Eagle and engraved fittings by Ken Hurst. The second knife was a Rick Bowles Special with a scrimmed ivory handle of two buffalo and Hurst engraving of the hilt and buttcap. Photos of these knives can be found in newsletter issues #16, #17 and #18.

The l993-94 drive saw a small "Sasquatch" with a Cheetah chasing a Gazelle scrimmed on ivory by Rick and engraved by David Perdue (Issues #22, 23, 25 and 26.) The winner of this special knife is to be found in issue #28.

The 1996-97 membership drive gave the winner a Tom Clinton "Special" with another great scrim (a wolf scene), Perdue engraving and unique sheath by Gutcher (issue #30). The winner was announced in issue #34.

For the 1998-99 drive a special RKS III club knife with ivory spacers, instead of black Micarta was given away (Issues #39, #40 and #41). I believe this was the last of membership drive giveaways, as the RKS had grown to a sufficient size and the cost of these knives was proving to be prohibitive.

Stay tuned for Part V...

Cheers!

David


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Old 11-25-2011, 01:06 PM
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Hi all!

Welcome to Part V:

In the summer of 1996, Rhett, with the encouragement of Rick Bowles, decided to modernize the RKS logo. Rick designed the new logo which is depicted below in the form of a large jacket patch. A smaller patch was also made available to members and I'm sure these will become quite collectible.





During the few years prior to Rhett's passing, both he and Janie were very preoccupied with his medical problems. Nevertheless, they still devoted as much time as they could to the running of the RKS. It's a testament to Rhett's loyalty to the membership that he continued to create the quarterly newsletters and stay in touch with the world of Randalls and other knives that he loved.

To celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the RKS, one of Rhett and Janie's closest friends decided to surprise the pair with very special commemorative items. Without their knowledge, Rick Bowles designed a very neat and high quality brass badge (serial numbered) and coin. Imagine Rhett and Janie's surprise when they were first presented with a set!!! Fast acting RKS members were able to purchase these limited badges and coins virtually at cost.



Here's my badge!






Here are excellent photos of both sides of the coin taken by fellow KN member "lunde".






Rick had asked Rhett to send him some of photographs of himself and Janie, without telling him why he wanted them. Unbeknownst to Rhett, Rick or me, Rick picked the photo on which the coin image was based. I still remain extremely flattered that a photo of Rhett and Janie which I took at the 2005 Blade Show was the one chosen by Rick! Thus the coin will always have an even more special meaning for me. You can see the original image at the start of this thread.





When Rhett set up his new online Randall forum in the fall of 2005, I was one of the first to join. Early on I won one of Rhett's contests on that forum, and as a prize I received this very cool momento:



It suits me, don't you think?







This is the last instalment of my tribute to Rhett, Janie and the Randall Knife Society. I will always have fond memories of all three.

It's been fun putting this history together and I hope you found it informative and enjoyable.



Cheers!

David


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Old 11-25-2011, 02:08 PM
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I'm sure I have some unusual RKS items... somewhere. I'll try to dig them out and photograph them. David is right, these will most certainly be collectable in the years to come as there will never be another Randall Knife Society.
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Old 11-26-2011, 09:54 AM
Rick Bowles Rick Bowles is offline
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In 2007 Rhett showed me samples of a new RKS ball cap. Though Rhett only had a few of these made it gave me an idea to raise some money for our Special Fighter Fund. I sent two of the new caps to Randall and asked Gary if he would have the folks at the shop autograph them. I auctioned the two signed caps on eBay and, as I recall, they raised almost $1800.00 for the Special Fighter Fund.
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Old 11-27-2011, 04:59 PM
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David..
Great job putting this thread together...show's a lot of devotion to the Man and the RKS forum we had...I miss them both.


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Old 11-27-2011, 06:37 PM
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David,

A great tribute to a man and his partner who deserve all the kudos in the world for what they gave to the Randall collecting community for so long. I think Rhett has a little better perspective on who his friends are now

Best,

Ron
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Old 12-02-2011, 09:06 AM
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As Ron wrote, this is a great tribute to a great man. I never had the honor of meeting Rhett in person, because my interest in Randalls didn't develop until recently, but I spoke with him by phone several times, and also exchanged plenty of emails. As this thread demonstrates, he contributed much to the Randall community, and he will be missed.
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