This information is dedicated to Barry Wood, a major force in knives and Colt. Barry just turned 88 a few weeks ago and passed away March 17, 2014 in Colorado Springs, CO.
Like other major gun manufactures, Colt made knives and most of them have become collectibles, a few were originally intended for the collector market. Unlike their firearms competitors, Remington and Winchester, Colt’s entry into the knife market came in recent years and its tenure lasted only four years, from 1969 to 1973.
About fifteen different models, primarily fixed blades, were made. Barry Woods of Venice Beach, California designed the most unique of Colt’s knives, and the one that is in greatest demand by collectors. Wood had been using the patented design since 1967 on his own handmade knives and was approached by Colt about making the knives for them in 1968. Production on the first knives was completed in October 1969 with Wood having the blades made by Russell Harrington Company and several other components made by different manufacturers. He then assembled and finished the knives in his own California shop.
During the next four years, 15,300 of the Colt folders were made in several variations. The first 500 knives, stamped with the Colt rearing horse trademark, have a handle shaped like a rectangle with rounded edges. These knives have canvas Micarta handles and are probably the most rare of the Colt knife variations.
The second model is similar to the first with the same shape and handle, but is stamped with the Rampant Colt trademark and COLT, HARTFORD, CONN. in large letters. With the knife’s blade at a half-open position, it is possible to see these markings and the Colt Serpentine trademark as well. Two thousand of these knives were made.
The most common Colt-Wood Folder is the third model which features a change in shape and handle material on most of them. Its shape is slightly curved and, while a few knives used the canvas Micarta handles; the majority had a burgundy Micarta handle. This model did not have the Colt lettering stamp on the liner.
These knives were originally sold at prices in the $30.00 range. Those of the third variation are now valued in the $400 to $500 range with premiums paid for knives with original sheaths and boxes. The first and second variation models are valued more highly and may range up to $600, especially with the original sheath and box.
There are two other variations made but will rarely, if ever, be found in the collector market. Twelve knives were made with black Micarta handles and used as salesman samples. Two knives handled with stag were made especially for Colt executives. If found, these knives would be quite expensive and a prospective buyer should expect to receive letters of verification to accompany the rare knife.
Although Wood terminated his agreement with Colt in 1978, he continued to make a similar knife using 154CM steel and a variety of handle materials. Prices for these handmade knives stamped with the maker’s name range from $400 upward.
The Colt sheath knives were packaged in a wood grain paper box with the knife contained in a red velvet drawstring pouch, which is embossed with the Rampant Colt emblem. J. and F. Hopkins & Sons of Sheffield, England made sheath knives stamped “Sheffield”. They were imported through Indian Ridge Traders in quantities of approximately 2,500 each. There were four variations of the Sheffield made knives, each with sweeping clip blades. The three larger patterns included a sheath with a snap that closes over the bottom of the guard. The smallest skinner came with a pouch sheath.
There were about 20,000 sheath knives made in the USA by the Olsen Knife Company of Howard City, Michigan. They were stamped with the Colt Serpentine trademark and the words “Hartford, Conn.” Most of these knives were equipped with black leather sheaths while the Sheffield knives came with brown sheaths. Both included the red velvet pouches.
Retail prices of the fixed blade knives ranged from $29 to $49 in 1973. Current collector values are about $175 or more, with large patterns valued slightly higher and smaller knives valued at slightly less.
In 1993, the Colt trademark for knives was acquired by the United Cutlery Company and a variety of fixed blade knives were marketed by them until 2007.