# 4739 / WWII John Nowill & Sons British Military Issue Folding Knife


A scarce WW2 British Commando & S.O.E. (Special Operations Executive) pattern folding knife.

These knives were manufactured in England primarily for use by Commando’s & the S.O.E. (see pages 150/151 & Plate 355 in 'British and Commonwealth Military Knives' by Ron Flook and Secret Agents Handbook of Special Devices by Mark Seaman page 63 as pictured). Some of the knives produced don't have a manufacturers name or origin but this one has 'JOHN NOWILL & SON'S SHEFFIELD stamped on the blade tang.  On the back his maker’s mark of D and CROSSEDKEYS. The undamaged scales are chequered Bakelite or Bexoid. The knife is fitted with correct steel lanyard ring. The single edged blade measures 3 ½” long and it is 8” overall with the blade locked out. The cutting edge of the blade has no damage or nicks and actually even not the staining to be expected with age. The blade folds out and locks in place correctly. The blade is released by operation of a metal sprung thumb release which works perfectly.The condiions are really amazing mainly considering age and type

 This family's earliest record is in the books of the Cutlers' Company on 27 April 1700, when a corporate mark D* was granted to Thomas Nowill (c.1676-1704). After Thomas's death, this mark passed in 1708 to his younger brother, William Nowill (b.1686). From William's marriage to Ann Carr in 1711, two distinct Nowill companies emerged: Nowill & Kippax amd John Nowill & Sons. One of William's sons was David Nowill (c.1733-1775), to whom the D* mark passed in 1764. David's son, Thomas Nowill (1758-1836), was particularly influential in the subsequent expansion of business. In 1825, Thomas Nowill retired and left the business to his sons, William Nowill (c.1785-1855) and John Nowill (1788-1850), who immediately registered a silver mark at the Sheffield Assay Office. On 28 December 1836 Thimas Nowill died aged 78.     In 1839, his sons separated: William set up in Rockinham Street; John continued in Meadow Street, but soon relocated to Scotland Street. It was in 1842 that the first of John Nowill’s sons, William, joined the business after finishing his apprenticeship. His maker’s marks of ‘D*’ and ‘KROSSKEYS’ remain the marks of the company to this day. At the Great Exhibition in 1851 the company won a Prize Medal for their selection knives for ‘the Levant trade’. The Levant is an historical term for the near East, covering modern day countries such as Syria, Israel, Cyprus, Turkey, Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon. The company retained strong trade links with this area, having agents in Turkey, Egypt and Greece. In 1851 there were fifty men and boys working for John Nowill & Son, however, steady expansion meant that by 1881 they employed one hundred men, ten boys and fifteen women. In 1881 they also registered their first silver mark, which showed they were moving into making valuable silver and electro plate items. They registered a second silver mark in 1901. Despite surviving the difficult interwar years, the company was sold to F.E. & J.R. Hopkinson in 1947, and later acquired by J. Adams Ltd.

Price :
$475.00
Condition :
Near mint

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