LetÆs cut to the chase û THIS is the book for which Randall collectors have been waiting so many years! That may seem like a bold statement in light of Bob GaddisÆ excellent Randall Made Knives: History of the Man and the Blades as well as the other fine books addressing the famous marque. But the new Randall Knives: A Reference Book differs from other titles in that itÆs truly the ôReference Bookö proclaimed by the title û a reference for the information-starved army of Randall collectors out there.
Randall enthusiasts will recognize this bookÆs authors as the creators of the very popular û and now out of print û Randall Quick Reference Guide, a folding laminated sheet printed with a timeline and additional material useful to collectors. Really, the new book is sort of like the timeline, if you can imagine it more text-based, well illustrated, and expanded to 252 pages!
The Wickershams have organized their book into 22 different chapters. The first fifteen of these are the heart of the book, which divide the history of Randall Made Knives into five-year segments from 1937 to the present day, analyzing the evolution of the business and Randall knives in greater detail than has ever appeared in book form. Just about every possible aspect of these knives has been considered, from spacer combinations to marking locations to the contouring of this or that part, to the innumerable sheath variations encountered, to what sharpening stone is hiding in the sheathÆs pouch. If thereÆs any feature that evolved on a Randall knife over the years û and we all know that practically every feature did û that evolution is explained somewhere in this book.
Chapter 16 is devoted to a ôQuick Reference Guide,ö which seems to be expanded somewhat from the textual material presented in the WickershamsÆ pocketable guide. The next three chapters deal with ôDealer Specialsö, ôEmbellished Knivesö and ôMiniature Knivesö, respectively; and a chapter on counterfeits and reworks is aptly titled ôSpotting the Fraudsö. A section is then dedicated to the Randall Knife Society [of America] and its club knives, and finally, thereÆs a well illustrated history of RandallÆs current sheathmakers, SullivanÆs Holster Shop, including a photographic essay of the making of a Randall sheath. The final pages wrap up with Acknowledgements, a bibliography, an Epilogue, and most importantly, a subject index.
ItÆs tough for a dyed in the wool collector to critique a book like this. Admittedly, itÆs not really ôlightö reading û thereÆs too much information packed into these pages for such a pronouncement. And the photos arenÆt as artistic as others youÆll find out there û but they are clear and in superb color, so they are nonetheless perfect for study.
Yes, GaddisÆ book remains an excellent introduction to Randall history and the basic Randall models, the Hunt and Hamilton books are attractive, well illustrated photographic compilations, and the Randall Knives CD-ROM is especially useful for the images of rare catalogs and searchable Randall Knife Society newsletter text. But anyone with the slightest interest in collecting Randalls will find the new Randall Knives: A Reference Book an essential reference for the collector, for the information on how to date and evaluate all Randalls from the very first knives through the present models, for identifying knives that have been altered to deceive, and for comparing actual knives with the full color photos of knives of all time periods pictured herein.
Really, those words ôreference bookö sum it up very nicely, as thatÆs precisely the way in which this book will serve most collectors. I think most will find that Randall Knives: A Reference Book quickly becomes the most frequently referred to Randall book on the shelf, and thatÆs saying a lot!
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