Red Cross Knives

Hobo Case WW1HoboFullOpen_3b8ed659-4bf8-4017-81da-49c106f9aa8c

At the Oregon Knife Collector’s Show earlier on in the month, we came across quite the interesting fella. His forte? Hobo knives. He had a massive display of Hobo knives, it was quite the sight to see.

His collection consisted of hobo patterns of all eras, but a certain vintage caught our eye, WW1 vintage to be precise.

Hobos have went by several names, especially during the earlier years; Hobos, take-apart knives, friend knives, slot knives, but the version that caught our eyes specifically were called the Red Cross Knife, a non take-apart version of the Hobo knife.

During the Great War, the American Red Cross contacted several knife companies and ordered millions of these non-take-apart knives with wooden handles, a spear blade and a folding spoon. In October 1917 alone, one-hundred-eighty thousands of these knives were ordered.

The knives then found their way into gift boxes made for the soldiers and distributed to many of the brave men that served.

The story goes that the reason so many of these Red Cross knives only have a knife and spoon and are missing the fork is due to the poor hearing of one Army General, perhaps a man with pride but terrible hearing, misheard the order and sent it on through. We can always look for a silver lining though this, though: in the end, that meant it weighed less and could be manufactured more quickly, so maybe it was for the best!

Photo image credit goes to Lhomond Jones. Thank you for the images and the interesting talk!