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Information on a 1908 Soldier 281

Sr. Member Posts: 365
Information on a 1908 Soldier
« on: August 14, 2019, 04:09:36 PM »
Hi Guys.

Bought a soldier today. No apparent year stamp in photos and looks very stainless so makes me think the blade is closer to 1950 than 1921. Also missing the wk stamp possibly.

Any theories about how this set of circumstances could come to pass? No wk no year? Were there civilian Wenger knives produced?

Thanks in advance.
15.72 kB | 391x400 19.25 kB | 400x386 10.47 kB | 300x400 10.73 kB | 340x400
Sr. Member Posts: 365
Re: Information on a 1908 Soldier
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2019, 04:11:17 PM »
More pics
21.15 kB | 342x400 11.72 kB | 400x345 10.97 kB | 400x352 8.71 kB | 346x400
Sr. Member Posts: 365
Re: Information on a 1908 Soldier
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2019, 04:12:24 PM »
And more pics😂
14.53 kB | 395x400 14.32 kB | 400x390 9.51 kB | 368x400
No Life Club Posts: 1,374
Re: Information on a 1908 Soldier
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2019, 05:02:07 PM »
Not a soldier expert by any means, but AFAIK it was pretty common for Victorinox and Wenger to make versions of their Soldier knife for sale to the public. In many cases they would use stainless steel instead of the carbon steel that went to the Army for the knives made under contract. So you see quite a few of these - looks like a M1908 Soldier but is stamped "Victorinox Stainless" or "Victoria Stainless" instead of the usual "Elsener Schwyz".Since it wasn't provided to the military under contract, no date stamp or WK stamps are found.

Sr. Member Posts: 365
Re: Information on a 1908 Soldier
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2019, 05:15:17 PM »
Hey Jazz

I am under the impression that those should bear a "P" stamp on the rear and that everything was stainless from 1921 forward. I guess the lack of the "P" is what's throwing me. Having said that, and I know very little I seem to remember all the "P" stamped knives having a WK stamp so maybe those were sold on bases.

I like the knife and am very happy for the price I paid so it's all good. My imagination says that it was made in early 1921 just before they started year stamping tangs and just after they introduced stainless.... and the wk stamp has rubbed off😂🤣😂 . But there is more chance of being struck by lightning.
No Life Club Posts: 1,374
Re: Information on a 1908 Soldier
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2019, 05:41:49 PM »
My understanding is as follow (soldier experts please correct)

There are basically three categories you can group these old soldier knives into:

1. Official issue. Date stamped, WK stamped, welcome to the military here's your rifle and your knife. AFAIK, all of these are carbon steel up until the next major model revision, either 1951/54/61 (not sure about this).

2. Semi-official issue. Date and WK stamped but with a "P". You could buy these on bases to replace a missing service issued knife, but technically speaking they weren't the knife you were "officially" issued. I read somewhere that is was not uncommon for soldiers to buy a "user" knife and keep their official issue knife pristine for inspections and the like. No clue if that's even remotely true but sounds plausible, no? Available in both carbon and stainless.

3. Publicly available. The Soldier knife was listed in catalogs alongside all the other models as the "Nr 200" (carbon steel) or "Nr 200 Inox" (stainless). There was a series of knives based on the Nr 200, as shown in the 1942 catalog

I think this is what you got - a "Nr 200 Inox" version of the Soldier that would have been publicly available back in the day.

Re: "everything was stainless after 1921" - this is a common misconception that after stainless is widely available in 1921, Victorinox switches all production to stainless, and thus anything carbon steel must be pre-1921. This is not true - Victorinox continued to make folding knives in carbon steel well after 1921. I have several officer's knives (both 84mm and 91mm) that are dated into the 30s and 40s and are carbon steel. M1908 soldiers were made at least into the 1950s in carbon steel and the farmer knife like (Bauermessern) were quite popular in carbon steel into the 1950s.

NB: I just realized all this info is Victorinox specific and VoetSak's knife is a Wenger. I know almost nothing about Wenger so no idea how much of the above is applicable. Given how much the two companies tended to stay in sync, I'd guess a good bit, but that's (again) just speculation on my part.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2019, 05:47:07 PM by jazzbass »
Sr. Member Posts: 365
Re: Information on a 1908 Soldier
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2019, 06:31:50 PM »
Thanks again,

It's a bit of a minefield I think. I have 2 other M1908s Elseners a 24 with a wk stamp and a 41 with a wk stamp and both appear to be stainless all be it not the best quality stainless as they do tarnish slightly. I always assumed that they are not carbon steel though (they have a chrome like sheen) . It's possible that I read about stainless and just got mixed up though and they are in fact carbon steel. They seem too clean to me though. 🤷🏻‍♂️

I have later knives with the "P" Tang and no year stamp so was sort of expecting the same on this one. But if it was completely non military then that explains that.

« Last Edit: August 14, 2019, 06:37:25 PM by VoetSak »
Full Member Posts: 223
Re: Information on a 1908 Soldier
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2019, 08:05:34 PM »
Its not as complicated as it looks :-)

I know it from the Elsener/Victorinox knives, but I think wenger handled it a similar way.

As a soldier, you alway received the "cheap" version, because the price was fixed for decades. That means carbon steel, no high finish/polish, wk stamp.

As a "private" person, you could order some different configuration:

- Carbon steel
- Inox steel (more expensive)
- wk stamp (more expensive)
- second class knife (cheaper)
- finish in either Standard, black oxide or chrome (only for carbon steel knives)

The P and also the repair stamp was not for order, they just put it on the knife after Military Service or after repair.

So any soldier knife from 1908 till 1951 that is either Inox steel, missing WK stamp, chrome or black oxide finish, P stamp or repair stamp, is not an "original" soldier knife, means in original configuration and used from soldiers during their services.
BUT that does not mean, that a "solder" knife out of Carbon steel with the wk stamp and missing all those other Features is an "original" soldier knife, because exact that same configuration was available for every "simple" person and you could order exact the same configuration the soldiers used.
So you could NEVER say if the knife Model 1908 you have was ever handed to a soldier and used in Military Service or not.
Sr. Member Posts: 365
Re: Information on a 1908 Soldier
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2019, 09:11:36 PM »
Thanks Ulli,

So the knife I got was advertised as chrome. I thought it was the guy trying to say stainless. I will have to have a look at it when it comes but as it was impossible for me to distinguish between stainless and carbon steel I am probably not onto a winner.

Hoping it's just plain old stainless....



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