I recently saw a picture of one of the unusual knives worn during the Great Lakes Fur Trade… the English ball-grip trade knife. Knives were very important to the traders and trappers during this time period and they were often traded for furs and other goods. In the 18th century these trade knives were often English in origin and sometimes only the blades were traded and given grip made from wood local to the Great Lakes region.
Partly because I live right in the heart of Fur Trade country and partly because I love the lines of these knives I thought I would make my own interpretation. A logging friend of mine gave me a stunning chunk of curly aspen (locally it’s called ‘popple’) that I thought would be perfect for this. The blade was forged from some laminated steel composed of multiple layers of 1095 tool steel and one layer of 15n20. While the 15n20 is obvious you have to look closely to see the subtle pattern of the 1095 layers. The ball-grip knives were typically full tang but I stole the idea from other trade knife styles where a short, tapered tang was inserted into a solid wood handle. On my version I added some bronze layers to the insert just to add some flash.
The blade on this knife is 6″ long with a total length of 11″. The blade is very thin like the originals. A knife like this would be a great canoe camping companion for trips in the Boundary Waters. It would work well for any number of tasks from making kindling, food prep, skinning and filleting fish.
I’m asking $400 for this knife (sheath included). Please inquire for shipping details.