We have looked at various jack knives on the blog over the last few years, but tonight we have an Indian example to consider. My thanks go to Andrew Dearlove for his help with this item. The Indian jack knife is very similar to those from the UK, but noticeably cruder in construction:The grip panels are thinner and less shiny than those on the British jack knife and are probably made of a local substitute for the hard Bexoid plastic or horn used on other examples. The chequering is also less regular which leads me to suspect it is hand finished rather than produced on a machine:Other Indian knives can be found with red fibre grip panels. The jack knife has the usual combination of fold out blades. Taking up one side is a large marlin spike used for parting the fibres of ropes and (apparently) by boy scouts wishing to remove stones form the hooves of horses!There is the obligatory blade:This is again far rougher than a British jack knife. This example is faintly stamped ‘1942’:The final fold out part is the tin opener:Having used these for living history, I can confirm they are very effective at opening tin cans, but do need a bit of practice to get the knack! This example has manufacturer’s initials for ‘CMW’ I think:The whole knife is rounded off by a copper lanyard loop that allows it to be attached to a string lanyard and slung around the waist:Numerous variations of these knives abound, mainly because they production of these small items was put out to commercial tender by the Supply department rather than being made at a government factory in India. The History of the Supply Department notes:
The Department maintained registers of contractors by categories. Invitations to tender were normally issued to all contractors registered as competent to produce the store required. This method was mainly used for the vast range of miscellaneous engineering and general stores which could be produced by the small contractors and where there still remained an element of competition, viz., buttons, badges, knives, forks, spoons, scissors, hollow ware, padlocks, crockery, tables, chairs etc.