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WWI US Mark I trench fighting Knife -
Trench knives are either purpose-made weapons, or are made from cut-down (shortened) bayonets or swords, and intended for close-quarter fighting, the design originating in the trench warfare of the First World War. They were particularly useful for trench raiding operations, along with other mle weapons.

Perhaps the most easily recognized American trench knife is the Mark I, introduced too late to see World War I service in the trenches, but adopted and carried by U.S. paratroopers in the Second World War. This knife was a full-tang design with a double-edged blade and a brass hilt incorporating a guard shaped as a knuckle duster, though the guard existed much more for the purpose of being a guard than for any perceived benefit as a punching aid. The pommel incorporated a so-called 'skull-crusher' extension ostensibly designed to increase the lethality of the weapon. However, as common sense and knife experts agree, using a stabbing/cutting weapon as a bludgeon is very ineffective, an improper and pointless practice contrary to the best usage of the weapon.

This page is a recognition and identification guide for military fighting knives. Multiple detailed photos of a specific sample are provided. Descriptions point out clearly defined points that should be noted.

One of the most commonly asked questions is "How much is my fighting knife worth?". A price guide is included here to address this question. The value of the knives is reviewed over a period of several years. A trend can be observed. The present worth of the edge weapons in the collector's market is illustrated.

This service is provided free of charge to the visitor/enthusiast courtesy of MilitaryItems.com, a company dedicated to the preservation of military history and to providing quality military antiques and collectibles to museums, institutions and the general public.

  1. FAQ's
  2. knife anatomy
  3. knife construction materials
  4. knife makers and markings
  5. Fighting knife blade types
  6. Identifying fakes and reproductions
  7. Purchasing a fighting knife
  8. Perspective View

The brass-hilted U.S. Mark I trench knives were made by three American companies and one French company:

Company Name Marking Location
Landers, Frary & Clark L.F.&C. New Britain, Connecticut
Henry Disston & Sons HD&S Philadelphia
Oneida Community Limited O.C.L. Unknown
Au Lion/Societe General Au Lion France

American models of the Mark I are stamped on the right side of the brass grip "U.S. 1918", with the contractor's initials below that. These three American companies were among the four that also made the earlier U.S. M1917 and M1918 trench knives.

The French version of the Mark I is stamped on the blade ricasso with a recumbent lion, and "Au Lion" below that. The grip of the French version is typically stamped with "U.S. 1918". Several versions of the French model exist - some with grooves on top of the grip, some without. Some have letters and numbers cast into the knucks that are smaller than others.

The American Mark I knives and steel sheaths were issued with a blackened finish to prevent reflection, but some owners believing this to be tarnish attempted to polish them and remove the blackening. The French knives were issued with iron sheaths. American versions of the Mark I appear to be better finished than the French version, and are slightly larger dimensionally as well. American-made sheaths for the Mark I trench knife are marked "L.F.&C. 1918", while the French sheath is unmarked. American-made knives have 8-sided skull-crusher pommels, the French model is 4-sided.

This edge weapon is currently being reproduced. It is becoming more difficult to be able to tell the fake ones from the real ones because the quality of the reproductions is improving. The collector must become familiarized with the construction style and materials employed in the manufacturing of this item. Attention to the details is critical in order to be able to determine the authenticity of the collectible.

If you have an interest is seeing other fighting knives, you can do so by going to our Military Fighting Knives Price Guide identification guide. Where we cover Army, Navy, Army Air Force, USMC and other organizations.


The value for the Fighting Knives and other military antiques and collectibles is provided as a means to educate the collector community and individuals who have a general interest on the field. The following is an estimated value. Prices may vary in every state and every country. This service is provided courtesy of MilitaryItems.com . The source for military antiques and collectibles in the web.

Year 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Value $350.00 $370.00 $400.00 $450.00 $500.00 $530.00 $550.00 $570.00 $600.00 $620.00 $650.00 $670.00
Availability Medium Medium Medium Medium Medium Medium Rare Rare Rare Rare Rare Rare
Invest Grade A A A A A A A A A A A A

Jan 5th, 2017
The knuckle knife featured here is in very good condition. The Brass handle does not have any damage. Double edge blade construction. Nicely marked. These type of knives are getting harder to find and are well liked by collecors. Their value is likely to continue increasing in the near future.

While the item featured here is not for sale, similar items like it are available for purchase in our website MilitaryItems.com

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