The Wilkinson First Pattern F-S Fighting Knife should rightly be considered the cornerstone of any F-S collection and as such is much sought after by collectors worldwide.  With only a very small percentage or original examples surviving, demand for these rare knives is always rather high.  One of the perpetual problems collectors encounter is condition and as most First Patterns have seen service, finding pristine examples is near impossible.  With this in mind I would alway encourage collectors to view considered any original example as a real treasure and in despite of any condition issues. 

The collector would be well served to remember that these were working knives and not ceremonial daggers and as such, many examples are going to show wear and in some cases damages and/or modifications, especially to the leather scabbards which by their very construction did not stand up to the wear as well as the knife would have.  As long as the knife shows honest signs of wear and use then there is no reason it should not find a place in any F-S knife collection.  Historic knives such as the one shown above are exceptionally rare, so don’t be too surprised if a knife that has clearly seen service has also long lost its history, as sad as that is.  I’m afraid this is sometimes the reality of collecting such historic pieces.

Due to the scarcity of the First Pattern and the value that such rare knives attract, there have been many attempts at ‘copying’ or (let’s be honest) out right fakery.  It is always advisable to buy from a reputable experienced dealer and/or collector and before parting with what is often no small sum of money, it is strongly advised that you should study as many good examples as possible and gain some education.  Gaining the advice of a long-time collector if at all possible is always preferable.  In this time of distance buying, either from dealers or internet auction sites, one often only has a photograph to judge by.  If this is the case then ask for close-ups of certain key areas and compare these images to known correct examples.   For images of many original and correct examples please click on the ‘First Pattern Gallery’ link in the Other First Pattern Topics box above.

One area that bears closer scrutiny is the pommel nut.  Often these can reveal tell tale signs of having been disturbed.  It is of course possible that due to one reason or another, the original owner ‘in theatre’ disassembled the knife or just tightened the nut due to it becoming loose.  This, however, is almost impossible to substantiate and it is entirely possible that a disturbed nut is an indication of tampering of some sort and at the very least should alert you to look closer.  The nut should be seated well and aside from the two opposing clamp marks, should be nice and clean.  Study closely all the images below for example of pommel nuts that are in every respect correct and undisturbed.  Both pristine and well used examples are show and remember if in doubt seek advice.

If your budget is limited or you are in the process of starting your collection, it is certainly worth considering a less-than-perfect example.  This is an excellent way of getting your hands on a relatively inexpensive but totally original First Pattern while building up your personal knowledge and experience of these elusive knives.  As time goes by and your experience increases there will be plenty of opportunities to ‘trade-up’ to a finer example and in the mean time that ‘gap’ in your collection is filled.  At times it has taken me many years to locate and acquire a specific F-S knife in the condition I had hoped for, a long time to have a gap in one’s collection, and besides with diligent searching and a lot of luck it is possible to get a real bargain...such as the time I found a well-used but very handsome First Pattern at the bottom of an old ‘shoebox’ while visiting a Colorado gun shop!  With no scabbard, a slightly shorter blade and gently worn etchings but otherwise in lovely, clean condition.  Few discoveries have afforded me such pleasure as  this ‘shoebox’ treasure below.

Of course the truth is that as collectors we all aspire to own a knife

in truly exceptional condition.  However the reality of this is that

it can take many, many years and a substantial investment to

finally acquire that special knife.  The First Pattern shown

here is an example of just such a search and was the

result of almost a twenty years endeavor

but as they say patience is a virtue

and in collecting the F-S knife

nothing is more true.

First Pattern F-S Fighting knives

in such splendid condition are indeed

the exception.  This example is in very near

‘factory’ new condition and is likely one of the finest

examples known.  Both knife and scabbard are in pristine

condition.  Of course there is certainly no harm in aspiring to own

such a spectacular example as this but I would advise all collectors not

to discount the many fine and historic knives that may be in less than perfect condition.

Be very suspicious of any First Pattern that does not conform to the normal ‘standard’ pattern one sees.  Throughout the nine-month production period the design never really changed and although there are some production anomalies and slight differences one can encounter, the basic design remained the same.  There have been a number of so called ‘experimental’ or ‘pre-production’ knives appear over the years and even published in books and magazines.  ALL of these knives are fake, plain and simple.  There are NO original First Pattern pre-production or experimental knives made by Wilkinson known to exist.  Robert Wilkinson-Latham in his superb book, Wilkinsons and the F.S. Fighting Knife (Pooley Sword Publishing), makes the point very clearly.  Study the knives on these pages, ALL of which are 100% original examples.  I have deliberately ‘not’ shown any fake knives, partly as I don’t have any in my collection but also as I did not want to muddy the waters on this site.  All the knives shown on this site are original and correct and I would encourage you to study the First Pattern Gallery carefully, as there are many examples of knives that have personally been in my hands or have generously been shared courtesy of experienced collectors.

The knife shown above is a good example of an honest but well-used First Pattern.  This example was owned by Corporal 7893091 Herbert Cyril Lowis who served as a Chindit in the Burma campaign.  From its well-tarnished blade to the modified scabbard, the knife is typical of a well-used but well-cared for fighting knife.  Collectors should not discount such interesting knives, especially when one considers their priceless historic value.  Such knives as this often display issues reflecting their working military life, such as the loss of finish or a re-profiled blade tip but this is to be expected and should be seen in a positive light and reflective of their history.

As they say; they aren’t making any more - well originals at least.  So keep an open mind and if you are fortunate enough to own an original even one in well used condition, then I would strongly recommend you thoroughly enjoy it for that it is - a ‘real’ Commando knife..!

There are many subtle signs an experienced collector considers before parting with their hard-earned cash, possibly too many to realistically share in full here, like an appraiser of fine art nothing beats the experience that comes with handling many original and correct First Patterns.  But for those who are less experienced, here are some basic red flags to look out for.

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~ The Wilkinson First Pattern F-S Fighting Knife ~


Observations On Collecting

~ Condition Is Not Always Everything ~

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~ Pommel Nuts ~

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~ Words Of Caution ~

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