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Education / Training Collecting airguns: Fakes and counterfeits 4

Collecting airguns: Fakes and counterfeits 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Scarcity Part 1
Condition Part 2
What is collecting? Part 3

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Counterfeiting
  • The racketeer nickel
  • Made to deceive
  • The tale
  • People want them!
  • Fake airguns
  • Refinishing and modifying
  • Personality airguns
  • The Rosetta Stone

Here we go again. Today we will look at the shady side of collecting — the works of intentional deception. In some collecting fields fakes and counterfeits are so common that they have become a whole area of study within the field. Let’s look at the oldest of all — the counterfeiting of money.


Long ago it was more possible to counterfeit money because there were fewer ways of determining whether something was fake or real. It wasn’t until old Archimedes came up with a way of knowing how much gold was present in an object (Eureka!) that people had much of a chance of knowing what was real and what wasn’t. They learned to trust the money issued by certain governments (Rome) or kingdoms (Babylon) because those authorities made every effort to police their own money. The death penalty was usually the price for counterfeiting, because the authorities did not want the expense of policing the currency.

You have probably seen someone in an old movie biting a coin. Why did they do that? They were testing it to see whether it was real gold. Gold coins of the past had a higher gold content, which made them softer. If your teeth left a mark the coin was probably real gold — unless it wasn’! Allow me to demonstrate.

The U.S five dollar gold piece was a beautiful coin. The coronet head $5 gold coin had a run from 1839 to 1908. It was 21.6mm in diameter and was 90 percent gold and 10 percent copper (21.6 karat). It was a popular birthday gift from wealthy grandparents for many of those years. Let’s look at one.

5 dollar gold both sides
This $5 gold piece from 1882 is in about uncirculated condition. Isn’t it beautiful?

The racketeer nickel

In 1883 another gold coin hit the market. It looked similar to the one shown above, except the reverse just had a V on it. People understood the V was the Roman numeral five. So, this was the new $5 gold piece. Only it wasn’t! This 21.2mm coin was the new Liberty nickel, also called the V nickel. In the first year of coinage the mint didn’t see fit to put the word “cents” on the coin, just as they didn’t put it on the trime you saw yesterday. That opened the door for deception.

racketeer nickel both sides
Looks good, doesn’t it? How many of these 1883 V nickels were plated with gold and passed off as $5 gold pieces?

You may be able to see many differences between the two coins because you are seeing them together, but remember, most people only saw a gold coin infrequently, and you would only see one at a time. This con can work — even today! The nickel was dubbed the racketeer nickel. Even though the mint let the coin ride for 1883, in 1884 they added the word “cents” on the reverse, under the wreath.

Coin collectors will tell you the story of the racketeer nickel story is apocryphal, but in 2001 an archaeological dig in Deadwood, South Dakota, uncovered a cache of just over 200 coins and gambling tokens. Among them was one of these racketeer nickels. So, at least one was passed around, and I believe a lot more of them were. After all, people are people! Interestingly, it wasn’t until 2016 that the actual identity of the coin in the find was established.

Made to deceive

In my gun collection I have two Remington cap and ball revolvers that are both fakes, made to deceive. When Turner Kirkland of Dixie Gun Works first commissioned some Italian gun manufacturers to recreate replicas of famous guns of the past, the Remington cap and ball revolvers of the mid-19th century were among the first guns to be copied. He wanted accurate replicas that people could be proud of, so he asked the Italians not to mark the guns with their proofmarks and manufacturer’s marks in obvious places. Of course he didn’t want the guns to be passed off as real, either, so the original lettering was also left off. So much for good intentions!

fake sixguns
I put these two fake Remington cap and ball revolvers and the sign on my tables at gun shows. It sparks a lot of interest!

Dishonest people saw the possibilities right away and started “weathering” these replicas to make them appear a century older than they were. Then they began showing up at gun shows! Sometimes they had lettering added by the counterfeiters, but they never got the fonts correct, so the stories that accompanied the guns had to be convincing.

The tale

“I don’t know anything about it. It was my grandfather’s gun and I played with it when I was a kid. I wasn’t supposed to, but it was so darned neat I couldn’t resist!”

You see — he hasn’t told you anything that couldn’t be true. He hasn’t represented the gun as genuine. So, when he offers it at a substantial discount from what it should cost if correct, the hook is set and he reels in his catch.

People want them!

I put these two revolvers on my table at gun shows and they attract a lot of attention. People want to know the stories that came with them. However, I am astounded when I am asked to sell one or both of them. That happens at least one time at every show. I have a sign next to the guns, telling people they are fakes, and these people still want to buy them! So, I put a price of $1,100 on the pair, which is how much they cost their original buyers who were duped. Then, all the interest dies away, leaving me to wonder what these potential buyers had in mind.

Fake airguns

Now we come to the troubling part of this report. When are airguns faked and when are they just restored? Old airguns seldom command the prices that antique Colts and Winchesters do, so the motivation to fake them isn’t as great. And very few of the real antiques have been reproduced, though I am waiting for the day when the first wire stock Daisy reproduction hits the market as an antique. With an original worth $1,800 to $3,500, depending on condition, the potential is there.

Daisy wire stock
Daisy made a faithful replica copy of their first wire stocked BB gun a few years ago and sold it for less than $500. Nowhere on the gun is there any hint that it’s not original. Since Daisy made it — it is a genuine Daisy, though not one made in the 1880s.

Daisy lettering
Even the lettering on this replica is reproduced by sand casting, giving a realistic look to the replica. Experienced collectors will notice that the sand they used to cast the replica part is too coarse.

Refinishing and modifying

There are a host of airguns that get refinished. Let’s look at the Crosman model 101 multi-pump. A shooter is probably worth $100-150 these days and one that has all its paint plus a gorgeous stock is probably worth $200 and more. So far, so good. Biut when the seller says the airgun is 100 percent original, beware!

Or when someone wants to sell you a Crosman 600 pistol that’s like new in the box, be suspicious. If it works and he wants less than $200 you can’t lose, but if he wants $350 because it’s so original, know that refinishing those old Crosman pistols is big business these days.

A Daisy Number 25 pump BB gun is nice to have, but there are a few around that accept bayonets — the same one that’s found on the Model 40 military rifle. The word that goes with these BB guns is Daisy was trying to recreate the 1897 Winchester trench shotgun, and the bayonet + attachment point on the gun is original. However, I haven’t see any mention of a 25 with bayonet in the reference books.

Personality airguns

Mrs. Beeman’s custom FWB 124 rifle exists. I owned it once. I bought it from the lady who talked Mrs. Beeman out of it when the lady was ordering virtually the same thing from Beeman and found out this rifle had just been completed. Does the ownership make it worth a lot of money? I don’t think so. But the rifle is stocked with gorgeous figured walnut — the kind you sometimes see on a fine European firearm, and I think that’s where the additional value is.

However, when you are offered the personal Crosman 101 owned by William A. McLean (the man who developed the first Crosman multi pump pneumatic and took it to the Crosman brothers to manufacture), and the seller also claims to be the authenticator because his father bought it at McLean’s estate sale/auction, walk away! Sure, he only wants $3,000, but you walk — no, RUN!

The Rosetta Stone

I could go on and tell stories, but you get the gist of what I’m saying. Yes, collectible airguns are doctored, but be careful calling them fakes, as the intention may only have been to restore the gun. When enough time passes the gun and the restoration begin to merge. Then it will be harder to know what’s true.

Instead of the gun, I would focus on the seller and what he is saying. First of all, does he have a reputation? If it is a bad one, recognize that people usually earn those through shady dealings.

Next, look at what he is selling. Is it a BB gun once owned by president Kennedy, or is it a BB gun with documentation proving it was used in the movie A Christmas Story? The former is very difficult to prove and, even if it is true, it’s a Kennedy collectible, not a collectible airgun. The latter has some value, for obvious reasons.

Then, is the gun being sold on the basis of originality? I have seen Benjamin pellet pistols shined up like trumpets that were being sold as like new. A shiny brass finish on an old Benjamin means that two layers of original finish — black and nickel — have been stripped away.

Finally, and this can’t be overstated, airguns just don’t have the same collector cachet as firearms. A genuine Colt presented by writer Ned Buntline is worth a fortune. The one he gave to Bat Masterson, who allegedly cut the barrel down to 4-4/3-inches does not suffer from the modification. If it could be found it would be worth a fortune! Masterson is a genuine legend; the Buntline is legendary and any historical Colt is worth a lot.

Now, an FWB 124 once made for Toshiko Beeman, but which she never took possession of, is an entirely different story. First — who is Toshiko Beeman? Airgun collectors know her, but who outside our community knows her? Next, what is an FWB 124? Okay, it’s a very nice spring-piston rifle worth $400-600. Got a beautiful stock and a tune? Okay, add $1,200 That’s it! Don’t read in value where it doesn’t exist.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

101 thoughts on “Collecting airguns: Fakes and counterfeits 4”

    • Yogi,

      If true and if one of a kind, to someone it may be worth quite a bit. As for me it would be worthless because if I take it out and shoot it, it would likely get all scratched and dinged and wear off the gold plating.

    • Yopgi,

      It would certainly be worth more. How much more depends on the pockets of those who are interested. But it’s not in the same class as, say, Emperor Maximilian’s “One of One Thousand” Winchester with the ivory stock.


  1. BB,

    I am so thankful that I am an eclectic collector. I cannot be tempted to purchase things for their value. I prefer to look at the actual quality of what I am “collecting” because I am going to use it, not lock it away and hope it increases in value over time.

  2. I’m somewhat of a pocketknife collector, although I always use and carry them, and don’t really consider value beyond utility and the appeal it holds in my own view. I like the older Queen and Schatt and Morgan knives, but Spyderco and other novel designs attract me, too. I also own a couple of excellent US made Chris Reeve folders, which were quite expensive (300+). They are largely produced with CNC machines with superior alloys, finished beautifully, very desirable and well known in cutlery world.

    I recently noticed that you can buy Chinese clones of the Sebenza (his most popular design) for less than 1/10 the cost of a real Chris Reeve. My brother bought one on eBay, and I have compared it to the genuine article. It is a very faithful copy, and although I think I can spot some differences, it appears to be made of real titanium and tool steel, and they have gone to great effort to get details such as the logo and all the bevels accurate. I have no doubt that these could sell at a gun show table easily for 2-300.

    There is little to prevent such ingenious Chinese copies from entering the US market – and the workmanship is good. Buyers of these pricy collectibles had best be careful, in a variety of different products. On the other hand, from a “user” viewpoint, the copy is appealing at the eBay price point. It likely has a big impact on an item still in production of a “premium” item.

      • Yes, do the knife blog. I like opening and closing folders, but I’ve lost some faith in their value after a simple YouTube demo. It showed a contest between a folder and the Ka-Bar TDI fixed blade knife. The goal was to see who could deploy their knife fastest and pop a balloon. No contest. The TDI won every time.


  3. Like RR, I am interested in something that I can use. If I want to just look at it pictures would do.

    I see value in things that are well made and perform as expected.

    Used to be that parts were machined or cut from solid metal and hand-fitted into the final assembly. Products were well made and durable.

    Then “modern” practices adopted cast white-metal, molded plastic and stamped/folded sheet metal parts. Products are mass-produced at the expense of durability and precision.

    Now computer controlled “CNC” machines can manufacture precision components (metal parts, wood stocks, etc.) that are very good. The CNC machines are expensive and that reflects in the price of the finished product.

    You chose the item you want and pay your $$$. Often you can buy a mass-produced product and with a bit of spit & polish (deburring, polishing, shimming and lubricating) you can really improve the performance. (The Beeman P17 is a prime example.)

    If someone made a quality, functional copy of a Remington Cap and Ball using modern technology and asked a fair market price – the price that modern pistols usually sell at – then I think that would be a good deal. I am (obviously) not a collector as I can not see paying more money that an item is worth just because it is old or rare.

    I am not knocking collectors, each to their own. People would probably think that my (large) collection of furs, feathers and hooks for fly tying is weird and I am OK with that 🙂

    …Off my soap box.

    Happy Friday all!


  4. Everyone,

    Today’s report has sparked another interest of mine. Can a machine make something as good as a man can? Or, can it make it better?

    I know the answer depends on what the thing is, so I have a specific for you — razor blades. Can a machine make a sharper razor blade than a man can sharpen? Or can a man sharpen a razor sharper than any blade made by a machine?

    I think there is a way to test this, but I would like to hear your thoughts.


    • Think that for reproducibility and consistency of fabricating parts the machine has the advantage.

      When it comes to something subjective – like which edge is “sharper” then there a whole new set of considerations. But then I am a guy who will re-sharpen a new exacto knife blade to put a “proper” edge on it. 🙂

      As a side note, a flint-knapped blade flaked from a lithic material (like flint or obsidian) can be 500 times sharper than a razorblade. Ancient technology at its best.


    • I’m going to go with machines. The key to sharpening is consistency, and a man cannot keep up with a machine. But that applies strictly to razorblades with a straight edge. Once you get into curved blades, I’m going with the human.


    • The man that invented the machine that does the thing that a man once did by hand probably had a lot of passion for his task of creating a machine to do that and was probably unwilling to stop until he did it… really well.

    • BB

      Computer controlled precision machines should win the contest. But I wonder if any human or robot has what it takes to program machines to produce the finest of Japanese Samurai blades. What say you?


        • Hi BB…….boy,you unknowingly hit a nerve with a jackhammer this time.I am in the process right now of trying to prove that theory.I almost didn’t reply…..but now that I know where you are leaning I hope you are correct! I am working out the method for evaluating edges with a lab microscope……and camera.I am trying to find a camera of higher than 1.3mp that isn’t so expensive.My set-up allows inspecting the edge at 1200x optical……when lit correctly the edge holds few secrets.I also use a childs toy called an “Eyeclops” that captures stills at 400x but at that magnification I am just beginning to see what I need to.
          I have proved to myself that vintage Belgian coticules with a purple side were intended to be two sided for use.An unpolluted slurry on the slide clearly shows the same garnet particles present in the top are also in the purple stone.

          • Frank,

            I just woke up to this question suddenly about a month ago. I acknowledge that machine-made items can be very advanced and incredibly uniform, but I am now encountering a world where man-made ways have excelled for over a century. It’s the world of shaving.

            In the wet-shaving world (that’s with a razor and lather) a modern cartridge razor (that I always thought was remarkable and developed as far as it can be taken) is called a “drugstore shave.” Apparently a straight razor can be sharpened and stropped to such perfection that you can barely feel the blade on your face and virtually no whiskers are left above the skin. Smooth as a baby’s bottom!

            And guys who sharpen their knives “razor sharp” (and I used to be one of them) think they have accomplished something, when the edge of a straight razor may be 100 times sharper (or more)!


            • B.B.
              It really sounds like you’ve gotten yourself into one of these razor clubs that have so recently popped up all over! If so, how’s that working out?
              Not too long ago I was among those attempting to achieve that “razor sharpness” on my small assortment of Bowie’s, and had to prove it, as least to myself. Remember seeing guys with those little bits of toilet paper stuck to their faces? That was me.
              Larry now in Ottawa, KS

                • B.B.
                  I went to a beautician who had a salon in her walkout basement. She cut my hair for about 25 years and then about a year ago they sold their home and moved to Florida. Then I had to find another option to get my hair cut.

                  I went down to our local barbershop and got my hair cut. I remember when I used to go to the barbershop there was a leather strap hanging on the chair, or somewhere, and the barber would sharpen his straight razor on that strap. But this time when I got my hair cut I saw no straight razor or leather strap. The barber did not shave around my ears or my neck with a razor, just used the clippers. When I asked him about not using a razor, he said “Oh we haven’t used those for years”. It must be a liability issue or something. I do remember the barbers strapping the razor on that leather strap up and down several times before using the razor though.

                  • George,

                    Yes, the straight razors have disappeared from barbershops. I think it was the risk of cross-contamination and AIDS. At least that’s what my barber said.

                    Speaking of stropping, I just ordered mine. A strop sharpens the razor much more than the hone.


                    • B.B.,

                      Q: I assume that the blade is back dragged/stroked with a strop? I do remember them as a kid. It seems perplexing that a leather strap can further/better an edge. Why? How? It also leads to the question(s):

                      Is there quality aspects to consider in a strop? If so,.. what? Would a common top grain belt do just as well? Would a strop better a common pocket knife blade edge or a kitchen knife edge?


                    • Thanks to modern technology(and it’s own needs) things like CBN are available to “charge” a strop.These micro-abrasives can polish an edge up to 160,000 grit!
                      I have been scouring thrift stores for REAL leather belts and also cotton webbed belts.If you apply green compound (any hardware store 2 or 3$) to the leather that you cleaned first…….viola!! You have a beginner strop that can REALLY step up sharpness with……..and give a mirror polish to the nickel on pocket knives,and the brass,……and jewelry,and stainless watch bands too.I use wood glue to secure the belt to a cedar firring strip about 30″ long.First glue & clamp one end.Once cured for 24hrs you can tension the belt to straighten it…..then glue the other end under tension.I prefer the middle unglued…….it gives better feedback.Just my .02$

            • The steel and the edge geometry kind of limit you with SOME knives.FWIW I bought some Kai cutlery serrated “Bon Vivant” steak knives (6pcs) at a flea mkt for 10$.They will cut hairs suspended below my fingers now.To quote an overused term….they are scary sharp.I would love to send you one BB!

          • Frank,

            I work for a company that tests the reliability of printed circuit boards. We have some extremely sophisticated magnification and photographic equipment.

            You may want to look up a printed circuit board shop that has “micro-sectioning” capability as they might be willing to take some photographs for you.


            • Thanks Van…..but I really need full time use to answer my curiosity and maybe share my 40yrs of experience.My stereo phase contrasting microscope with supplemented lighting can make a single hair look like a California redwood…..I just can’t capture the image YET>LOL

  5. My collection story is I bought my first premium pellets about six months ago. Now I have so many I couldn’t keep track of them all so last Sunday I taught myself Excel, made a spread sheet with all the pertinent info, and now I have charts and graphs detailing my inventory. So collecting can lead you down different avenues, places you never thought of going, another skill set that enhances your chosen hobby, a growing collection can = expanding horizons.

  6. A machine just an evolution of mans ability to produce something. As more of something is produced techniques favoring efficiency, productivity, and quality shape the process and equipment used to manufacture whatever. So I would have to give the edge to machinery bacause if it wasn’t an improvement it wouldn’t exist.

    • Coduece,

      You said “…if it wasn’t an improvement it wouldn’t exist.” I agree with that. But an improvement on what?

      Today improvements are geared towards lowering costs to produce, hold and distribute. Also, the market is focused on customer loyalty, which is at odds with some of those other goals.

      What want to know is can a machine produce a razor that shaves closer, and smoother that a razor that is sharpened manually? The wet-shaving community says they can’t. They say a shave with a disposable razor — even a nice semi-permanent one that accepts disposable razor cartridges — is not as smooth and as close as a shave with a straight razor that men have to sharpen by hand.

      As a corollary, the wet shaving community claims that a shave with a straight razor is more comfortable and easier on the skin than a shave with a disposable safety razor cartridge.

      How does this relate to airguns? Well, can a hand-rifled barrel beat one that’s been rifled by machine? By beat, I mean is it more accurate?


  7. One thing that separates man from machine is passion, and when someone is passionate about something the level of attainment increases because of an innate desire to make the best whatever out of love and respect for that special endeavor. Think labor of love. so I guess I’m waffling here, but this is a much deeper subject upon closer examination.

  8. You can look at a Randall knife, and a Mora (Swedish) knife, and draw a lot of comparisons. The Randall is hand made, and has subtle contours, bevels, and blade shapes that are very appealing. Craftmanship is evident, even “beauty”. The Mora knife may not have ANY hand operations in the manufacture, but for a small fraction of the cost, it does the same work, and in some ways, it’s even better in use. I see the same differences in airguns (not so obvious, perhaps) where the old Blue Streak is more appealing than the plastic stocked Benjamin. Given the choice, I will go with the “crafted” item, although I certainly use my Mora knives with all that plastic, and like them for what they are.

  9. I remember the story about the worlds smallest drill bit being sent to Japan in an act of one-upmanship and they returned it with a hole drilled through it.
    There is no doubt computers and machines can out do man. Look at the Hubble Space Telescope lens, polished for seventy hours to a millionth of an inch. Everything made today is the result of a compromise, well except perhaps when the government is paying for it.

  10. I would have to go with machine over man. However, with that said, man must program the machine (certain ones at least). Bottom line is garbage in = garbage out. Good data in = desired results.

  11. In general here. Here comes my 33 years of machine shop biting at me.

    Machines can produce better results than a person in different situations. But in certian situations a person has that feel or technique that the machine don’t. The machine is told what to do. It doesn’t know what to feel. If the cutting tool breaks or gets dull it will keep chugging along. Of course unless there are sensors or monitors put in the machines system. Which I’m very very familiar with. I’m wiring up Technacheck load monitors on our machines at work now. Done probably 20 of them now. And got twice that many more to go.

    Bottom line. Wether a person or machine makes something. Somewhere in the equation they or it has to be maintained and keep the tooling up to a acceptable standard set by the print.

    You all know the variables we face trying to make our air guns shoot like what we want. Well there’s unbelievable amount of variables when machining a part. Even more so if it’s mass production. There is alot off quality guidelines and standards that are set that the manufacturers have to follow.

    That’s why it just bugs the heck out of me when someone trys to get more out of a product than it can produce. Sometimes it’s hard, but alot of reading between the lines is needed when a product is considered for purchasing for a job at hand or exsperiance. And in reality. You really need to know exactly how your going to use that product and what job it has to do that you expect of it. Sometimes easier said than done.

    • When it comes to hand making something with precision the primary mirror of a reflecting telescope always amazes me. To think that people can hand grind the surface of a glass blank so accurately that the properties of light itself are what limits the performance of the mirror in the optical system seems almost beyond belief.

  12. Ok just straightened the barrel on my Crosman TitanGP so easy, much cheaper than mounts. You really can put it where you want it, now I’m in the lower 25% of my elevation adjustment and about centered on the windage so thanks to Chris I think who suggested it, it worked.

    • Coduece
      You may not know Buldawg here on the blog. But me and him and others on the blog talk not on the blog.

      He just bent a barrel but can’t remember what gun. He has so much going on that I can’t keep track anymore. And I thought I was bad. 🙂

      But yep why not bend the barrel.

    • Coduece,

      It was not me that suggested barrel bending. I do not want to be given credit, when it is due else ware. I am glad that you had good luck with it though.

  13. BB— I was a histologist. Histology is the study of human , animal or plant tissue. The specimen goes through a complicated process of preservation and ends with it imbeded in a block of hard wax or plastic. It is then sliced into thin sections,stained, and then mounted on a microscope slide for study . The slicing machine is called a microtome and uses hand sharpened steel blades, that resemble a straight razor. These are probably the sharpest steel blades. Electron microscopes need even thinner sections. The histologist makes even sharper blades out of glass. ( similar to flint and obsidian blades in sharpness ). The edge of these blades is one molecule thick. Used (and unused) blades are discarded after 24 hours. Glass is not a true solid, and these blades loose their sharp edge ( for histological use ) after 24@ hours. A microtome is something like the slicing machine used to cut thin slices of meat or cheese. Hand sharpened microtome blades are sharper than machine sharpened razor blades. It would be cheaper to use razor blades, but they are not sharp enough. ——Ed

    • Ed,

      Much of what you stated rings a vague bell as my brother works in that field. Not making the slides, but rather the collection and storage. From that, they gather the patient history, type of disease, treatment history. Sort of a clearing house for information related to the slides. The goal, if not mistaken, is to see what worked and what did not work given a specific disease. Customized and targeted treatment. I do believe that genetics and DNA are all factored in. Institutions can request slides and many donate their entire collection.

      (I do not know much beyond any of that), but I thought I would mention it. Chris

    • Ed,

      Wow! Thank you for that!

      But I will go back to my question, because I think it is a steel blade I am talking about. The glass blade must be created by a process, right? I mean there can’t be a way to mechanically sharpen a substance to one molecule. By the way, that reminds me of Sinclair Molecule Chain that Larry Nivens uses as a cutting device in his sci-fi stories like Ringworld.


      • B.B.: I was thinking of Sinclair Monofilament too! One of the tings I like most about Niven’s writing is that it manages to make the speculative science seem real. Just imagine the sort of things that could be made with that stuff!

  14. BB— The standard, traditional microtome blades are made of steel. They are used for most of the studies of human, animal and plant tissues. The blades that I sharpened were made out of carbon steel .Glass blades are made by breaking a strip of glass. It is done in a machine that precisely fractures the glass when pressure is applied to the glass. Knappers who apply pressure to flint or obsidian do the same thing. Glass fractures along planes, producing the sharpest edges possible. ——Ed

  15. BB— I have to correct my post. I just found out that disposable microtome blades are now available. They are probably made by machines. I just saw an add for disposable tungsten carbide blades. They come in packs of 3 for only $737.00 ! This means that machines can now make sharper metal blades. I should have checked on my 60 year old information before I posted it. —–Ed

    • B.B.,

      Sounds good. I have a passion for knives as well, but own nothing worth a mention other than 1 Case. If it can improve a common pocket knife,.. or kitchen knife with good/above average steel,… then I am very interested. We have a local leather shop that makes anything and everything. High quality. I am sure I can get one made if I so desired. Plenty of Amish related shops as well. The no electricity and gas/battery/oil lamp type. Old School for sure.

      Looking forwards to it,…. Chris

        • B.B.,

          Very interesting. I see that smooth/top grain and suede grain can be used. I also see that polishing “compounds” come into play as well. If I know me at all, the belt under current wear, will be subject to some stropping in the very near future.

          If it works, I will be getting another belt from the afore mentioned leather crafter. As a side, I went in to buy a basic belt. All belts were the same length. Long. Little did I know,.. the procedure is to try the belt on and then it is custom fit, trimmed and punched. I did not care for the (riveted on) buckle and he switched it out to another style. Out the door for 20$.


        • BB

          Interested in your shaving razor strops. While I was serving as an apprentice mechanic in textiles in the 1960’s experienced guys sharpened their pocket knives with strops. I had an old WW1 leather cordovan strap which I used to finish sharpen my knives. I think it was superior to some of their barber strops. A knife had to be already somewhat sharp before starting for best results. I would use a “White Molly” an old fellow gave me and still have. Wish it could talk. We tested our efforts by shaving a patch of dry hair off a hairy arm. If it was painless, mission accomplished. Barbers still used straight razors in that time and anyboby who has had a real foam soap barber shave knows the difference vs the electric version we get today. A knife sharpened this way cuts through any paper with a straight pull and no angle pulls or sawing. However it is not useful cutting lots of synthetic cords which require serrated edges.

          I wonder if same direction stropping correlates well to same direction barrel cleaning on firearms and some airguns.


  16. Hi BB et all..
    Well, just a little off topic – or maybe back to the general topic.
    Recently I’ve noticed the blueing on some of my older guns is changing color. Where it used to be a solid black or blue color now in places the color has reverted to a silvery steel type of color with brownish splotches here and there. It’s still a hard finish – just a different color now. Another gun has taken on a brassy sheen alongside the scoperail.
    As well some of my older scope mounts have taken on a gold sheen bright finish and every now and then I come across a screw with the same types of discolorization. Liquid blueing does nothing to fix it unless the part is taken down to bare metal.
    Any ideas on what is going on.

    • Dave,

      Sure do. That’s patina. The black oxide is wearing away and the brown patches are red rust that isn’t a problem. Bluing is really a different shade of rust, and the brown is more solid and enduring than bluing. In colonial times guns were browned instead of blued and they still have the finish left today. My Nelson Lewis combo gun is rust-browned that way and still has its finish from 1865. Rust-browning is the most beautiful finish in the world when done well.

      You can’t blue aluminum, which is what your scope mounts are made of. But there is a blackening compound for aluminum made by Birchwood Casey.


      • BB – Thanks
        That answers my question.
        As for aluminum Outers Gun Blue – in the dark red box – does a wonderful job getting rid of scratches and nicks on scope rings. It also works great on the alloy used in most action pistols as well. Leaves a dark black phosphate type of finish. Also you can polish a small part – hammer, sightblock, safety, etc, down to bare metal and a bit of Outers and gun oil gives a colouring that resembles case hardening for an interesting finish.

  17. Just finished my open water dive certification today!!! Just realized both my hobbies involve compressed air, very symbiotic. Now I can get that scuba tank for me and my marauder.

  18. Halfstep— This is what we did 60+ years ago. The microtome blade ( about 4-5″ long ), was in a wood box, along with a handle and a circular angle guide. The handle screwed into the side of the wedge shaped blade. It now resembled a straight razor. The guide slid along the back of the blade. It held the edge at a constant angle on the sharpening stone. Some technicians moved the blade like a razor, on the stone. Others moved the blade backwards , on the stone. Some used circular motions, others back and forth like a knife. Fine grain stones were used. Some used water, others used oil for lubrication. Knives seemed to have their own likes and dislikes regarding the stone and sharpening techniques used. We stropped the blades with leather strips attached to wood blocks. Some knives liked being stropped on flat glass plates. In those primitive days, histology was as much an art as a science. Experienced technicians developed their own methods and tricks. —–Ed

  19. Halfstop—Our leather strops were stretched tight and mounted on thick wood bases to keep them taut. Stroping a microtome blade like a barber , will degrade the edge of a microtome knife, although it is ok for a shaving razor. ——Ed

  20. To me, child of the Cold War and living within VERY short range of SAC headquarters, “MAD” merely meant “Mutually Assured Destruction.”
    Imagine, last month, my amazement upon visiting my 1950’s through 1960’s home, …you know, the one near ground zero, …and finding it nothing more than sterile, flat, treeless mud where several city blocks once were. In other words, all the things we worried about back then came to pass…but to provide not world domination but rather parking for the local HMO.
    —On sharpening, it requires a large degree of pure talent. To ignore this truism invites disaster and there’s little technology that can replace such.
    I know, I lack the touch.
    My mother, on the other hand, had the talent to gift a monomolecular edge to a $1.49 five & dime utility knife that, after all these years, I’m still afraid to touch.
    Yes, I still have it. It’s the one with the profile of a Yataghan bayonet.
    But that’s just Mom.
    —0n tools, Aside from respected knives useful and/or merely pretty, my favorite has always been a (Very) expensive, (Very) unusual 1/8 ” thick, 2 ” blade length, Ivory micarta, scrimshaw handled (Very) custom knife designed to extract errant arrows from tree-trunks.
    Okay, some days I’m a lousy shot with a bow. But them arrows is expensive. So sue me.
    Point being, while I certainly can respect that truly sharp edge, perhaps it’s best to reserve a hammer for nails, not so much installing light switches.
    Proper tool for proper job.

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