In 1902 the British Army updated its standard clasp knife to a new specification that had either buffalo horn grips (116a/1902) or black horn (4563a/1902) in place of the Boer War era pattern that had used bone grips. This pattern was to be very short lived, being replaced with a new design in 1905 that introduced a can opener into the design for the first time. A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to find a black horn gripped version of this 1902 clasp knife, that despite a hard life is still in reasonable condition bearing in mind it is nearly 120 years old:
The design features both a flat ‘sheep’s foot’ style blade:
And a Marlin spike on the rear:
A lanyard loop was fitted to one end of the knife. Sadly this example has lost its original loop and had it replaced with a piece of wire:
The grips are also damaged and the horn has shrunk and delaminated over the years:
The blade is marked up on one side with the letters WD for War Department and the /|\ mark:
The opposite side has the stamp of the manufacturer, Atkinson Brothers:
This company was based at the Milton Works and Britannia Steel Works in Sheffield and was in existence from the 1890s onwards specialising in cutlery and knives.
Despite being made obsolete in 1905, these clasp knives would of course have remained in service for a number of years afterwards as stocks were used up. This is the earliest clasp knife I have so far found for my collection and despite its less than stellar condition, I am very pleased with it.