Item:
ON6066

Original U.S. WWI Model 1904 Hospital Corps Bolo Knife with Scabbard by Springfield Armory - dated 1912

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available: This is a fantastic find, and the first one that we have had! The M-1904 Hospital Corps Knife was the first of the modern Springfield Armory made edged weapon to carry a serial number. Designed for use by the U. S. Army Medical Corps, over 40,000 Hospital Corps Knives were made at the Springfield Armory, Springfield, MA between 1904 and 1914. Like all of the "bolo" knives, these were heavy knives intended for use both as brush clearing devices, as well as weapons. It was designed to aid US soldiers with jungle foliage that they found themselves in with incursions into Cuba and the Philippines, where natives used similar sized machetes.

According to archive correspondence, the first 236 knives were issued without serial numbers, but at the request of the Surgeon General of the U.S. Army, the Springfield Armory began the serial numbering process with number 237 and continuing upward. Contrary to many stories, the knife was not designed for "field expedient amputations", but the look in the novice's eyes often make the tale worth the telling.

The M-1904 features a 12" heavy curved back blade, with a curved cutting edge with a big belly near the "non-threatening" rounded tip.  It is marked near the cross guard with S A / (Flaming bomb) / 1912 on one side, and U.S. / 26125 on the reverse. The heavy ended blade made these very effective for clearing brush and jungle debris, as well as making them excellent hand weapons in close combat. The edge is single beveled, which helps with strength and ease of sharpening. 

This example shows very little wear, with just a bit of light oxidation on the blade in places. There is also a small chip out of the edge near the middle. The blade has been sharpened a bit, but nothing major. The edge is still only sharpened from one side, as originally issued. The wooden handle has a beautiful color, and is free from any major defects, with the brass rivets and end cap still secure. 

The original scabbard is also in very good condition, and is probably rarer than the Bolo Knife itself. This example still has the original markings visible on the back of the swivel belt strap:

ROCK ISLAND
ARSENAL
1908.
H.E.K.

It is also marked Hosp. C'ps faintly in the leather of the scabbard. The stitching is almost entirely intact, and the leather is still soft. There is the expected wear on the belt loop, and like many of this design, the belt loop swivel has stretched the leather. Later designs for this scabbard had a simple leather loop stitched directly to the leather, as it was found that the swivel would end up pulling out.

A very scarce edged weapon dating back to before WWI in fantastic condition, complete with an original scabbard. A great addition to any collection!

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