Vintage items are like highly valued trophies. Therefore, collectors put them on display to maintain their perfect condition. However, vintage fish knives aren’t meant to be displayed. Instead, they are meant to be outdoors because of their usability.
This article will discuss vintage Imperial pocketknives. The brand’s old knives can perform many tasks, and you can fit them right in your pockets. Despite all the tools you already bring when fishing, you’ll still love these pocketknives.
This brand stopped manufacturing in the 1970s, so finding knives from them is truly gold! Let’s begin!
Determining a Vintage Knife’s Authenticity
You can check if a knife is authentically vintage in several ways.
- Blade: The blades will not be as shiny and perfect as new and modern knives. Vintage knives are discolored, if not rusty. Older blades are usually made of iron and steel.
- Handle: Today’s knives are made of state-of-the-art handles for an excellent and nonslip grip. Vintage knives’ handles are usually made of these materials: ivory, wood, animal bone, or metal.
- Brand logo: Logos also determine the year knives are manufactured.
- Knife specialty: Some knife designs are specifically designed to satisfy people’s particular needs in the past. Check those specialties.
- Let experts check: You can seek opinions and check with antique experts if you want to be sure.
Characteristics of a Vintage Imperial Pocketknife
Vintage fish pocketknives can have a single or double blade, and they can accomplish the following tasks:
- Fish scaling: Single blades have a serrated spine for scaling, while double-bladed fish pocketknives have one blade specifically for scaling a fish.
- Fish filleting and slicing: One blade will always have a sharp edge, perfect for slicing and filleting your catch.
- Bottle opener: Knife designers know how a fishing day goes, and it always involves drinking a bottle or two. Thus, one blade is designed with a bottle opener.
- Hook remover: The hooks are sharp, and a hook remover can keep you from getting poked because you won’t have to directly use your hand. The hook remover is either at the edge of the blade or the end of the handle.
- Whetstone: Some vintage fish pocketknives also have small whetstones attached to the sides of the handle.
All these functions are satisfied by a small knife that can fit inside your pockets!
Reminder: The Hammer brand knife history shows the creation of pocket knives. When you look for vintage pocket knives, take note of the knife called toothpick.
You might mistakenly think that the toothpick knives they made are fish knives when they are not. They look like a fish knife from the outside but check the blades. A fish knife should have a scaler, which a toothpick does not have.
Imperial Fish Knife: Single Blades
1. Black Handle
Blade: The 3.5-inch blade is discolored with age. It already has black patches, which you can still lighten with restoration. You can sharpen the edge for slicing and filleting while the serrated spine is for fish scaling. Close the knife to use the scaler and prevent the blade from being wobbly.
Handle: The black-colored handle has a hook remover at the edge. In addition, the handle has a patterned design which contributes to its easy-to-grip characteristic. Together with the blade, the knife is 5 inches long.
2. Celluloid Handle
Blade: You cannot expect vintage knives to be perfect-looking knives. This fish knife/pocketknife from Imperial is sold with its blade a bit rusty.
The 4-inch single blade fulfills three functions: fish scaling, filleting/slicing, and bottle opener. Close the knife to use the scaler, and open it for slicing and bottle opening.
Handle: The handle is made of celluloid. Celluloid was developed for use in the 1860s and 1870s, so you will know that the knife was manufactured after these years. When the knife is open, it measures 7.75 inches.
3. Patterned Handle
Blade: You won’t need tools and knowledge on vintage knife restoration when you buy this knife, as it is already polished and restored.
The 4-inch single-blade knife can assist you in scaling, slicing, and bottle opening. The knife's edge is smooth while the spine is serrated. The bottle opener is located close to the handle at the opposite end of the blade.
Handle: You will love the handle design, which has linear streaks and colors of gold, silver, and black. The outline makes the handle look classy.
Imperial Double-Bladed Knives
1. Multicolored handle
Blade: The two blades of this Imperial pocketknife are already restored and polished, so they are shinier than the previous knives.
The two blades work together to assist anglers in preparing their catch. The first blade is a slicing/filleting knife. The second blade is reliable for scaling, removing hooks, and opening bottles.
Handle: The handle has a catchy and unique color combination of brown, black, and white. The rough texture makes the knife easy to hold and grip despite the wet preparation environment.
2. Red Handle
Blade: You can skip the hassle of knife restoration with this knife as they are already polished. The two blades serve as a slicer, scaler, bottle opener, and hook remover. It can assist you the moment you take your position to catch the fish, during your catch preparation, and while you enjoy your fish meal.
Handle: The handle is good as new and colored in red. If you are an admirer of bright colors, you will love this knife. It measures 5 inches when closed and 8 ⅞ inches when opened.
3. Yellow Handle
Blade: Another vintage fish knife that will reach your hands clean and good as new is this Imperial fish pocketknife.
It has two blades. The first blade serves as the slicer, while the second blade is the hook remover, bottle opener, and scaler. All these functions are inside a 4 ⅜-inch (closed) pocketknife.
Handle: The handle has the color of the sun that it is impossible to miss even when the lights are dim. Unfortunately, the logo on the handle does not show the “Fish knife” text most Imperial knives have, but you can check the authenticity through the engraving on the blade.
Restoring Vintage Knives
Some of the knives in this review are already sold clean and polished. If you bump into raw vintage knives that need restoring, having knife restoration knowledge will come in handy.
Let us help you with this step-by-step process of restoring a pocketknife and other vintage knives.
Step 1: Prepare all the tools you’ll need: sandpaper, rust remover solution (homemade or over-the-counter premix), brass brush, towel, and a whetstone.
Step 2: Begin by cleaning the knife, and then apply the rust remover of your choice. If you want a homemade solution, you can mix citric acid with water and soak the knife there. You can also buy rust remover chemicals and apply them to the knife.
Step 3: Next, remove the rust when they soften. Use wet sandpaper. You can also soak the sandpaper to the rust-removing solution/chemical. For the blade, clean and polish it with sandpaper until you get the clean and original color. You can further clean all areas of the knife using the brass brush.
Step 4: Once cleaned, shape and sharpen the blade.
Step 5: Finally, clean the knife. For wood handles, apply mineral oil to protect them.
You now have the knowledge on how to check the authenticity of vintage knives and restore them, as well as the best vintage pocket knives you can own. Now, it’s time to make a decision. Which Imperial vintage knife wins a space inside your pockets?
All these knives we listed are the best among the bunch. So whichever you choose, we are sure you are getting the best!
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