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~ The Very ‘Last’ Wilkinson F-S Fighting Knife ~



Presented to Robert Wilkinson-Latham from Wilkinson Sword Ltd

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~ Introduction ~

______________________________________

The Wilkinson Sword Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife was manufactured for almost 65 years, from November of 1940 until September of 2005. During this long production run it is likely that many tens of thousands were produced, although any precise figure would be impossible to calculate.  From the very beginning the Wilkinson F-S Knife was intended to be a practical fighting knife; a ‘tool of the trade’, albeit an unpleasant trade.  The original (First Pattern) F-S Knife is rightly revered by collectors as much for its aesthetics as for its historical rarity.  Like the English Longbow at the Battle of Agincourt or the Supermarine Spitfire of the Battle of Britain, its beauty is forged with the singular purpose of creating a perfect weapon of war and it is this distillation that gives birth to such iconic weapons.  Presented here is none other than the very last F-S Fighting Knife to ever be made by Wilkinson Sword.  With its very modern subdued finish and no-nonsense design, it is a fitting tribute to the original concept.  This, the last of its kind, was presented to Mr Robert Wilkinson-Latham in recognition of his family’s long association with the company.

It was Monday 4th November 1940 at the office of ‘Jack’ Wilkinson-Latham that the Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife was first conceived.  None of those precent could have scarcely conceived that the design before them would endure so long and that almost 65 years later on Saturday 22nd September 2005, the company would be presenting the very last F-S to Jack’s grandson, Robert.

The war-time success of the F-S is unquestionable.  Although at first, demand outstripped supply and Wilkinsons were unable to keep up with it, the need for this new fighting knife was clear.  Initially wielded by the Special Services soldier (later renamed the Commandos) the F-S would eventually be used in all theaters and by a myriad of units and personnel.  The initial knives were very fine indeed but war-time pressures and demands on both man-power and precious materials inevitably had an impact.  Although in concept the knife remained unchanged, the design was under review constantly throughout the war.  Most obvious was its modification to what we now call the Second Pattern in August of 1941 and then again with the Third Pattern in October of 1943 - a pattern that continued until the very last knife.

Of course the Wilkinson F-S would continue to be manufactured well beyond the war years. Throughout its lifetime various military contracts would continue to be filled both at home and abroad, but the F-S would find a lucrative commercial market too.  Many beautifully crafted commemorative knives would be available to the collector and general public.  In one form of another it would be made right up until Wilkinson’s cutlery side of the business would finally close in September of 2005.  In the last year of production Wilkinson made just 76 F-S knives; 63 of which were of the so-called ‘fancy’ etching and just nine carried the simple etching (shown above). The knife shown here was the last one made on Wednesday 7th September and along with the letter of recognition, was presented to Mr Robert Wilkinson-Latham on Saturday the 20th.

This then brings to an end the Wilkinson production of the F-S Fighting-Knife.  As with the innovative 18th Century flintlock guns of Henry Nock (Wilkinson’s founder) and the superbly crafted swords of the 19th Century which Wilkinson rightly became famous for, so too then does the F-S find its place in history.  For the collector and historian our work lies ahead but like so many areas of Wilkinson collecting, we have before us a vast array of treasures to search for and study and this ‘the last F-S’ must surely rate as on of the most historic.

The Very Last Wilkinson F-S Knife
Variations Of The F-S KnifeVariations_Of_The_Fairbairn-Sykes_Fighting_Knife.html
The Wilkinson First Pattern F-SThe_Wilkinson_First_Pattern_Fairbairn-Sykes_Fighting_Knife.html
The Wilkinson Second Pattern F-SThe_Wilkinson_Second_Pattern_Fairbairn-Sykes_Fighting_Knife.html
The Wilkinson Third Pattern F-SThe_Wilkinson_Third_Pattern_Fairbairn-Sykes_Fighting_Knife.html
The Very Last Wilkinson F-S Knife