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Nation's Attic Diving Into History 2023

WWII Australian Commonwealth Salvage Board Knife

The auction will start in __ days and __ hours

Start price: $500

Estimated price: $1,000 - $2,500

Buyer's premium: 20%

Sales Tax: On the lot's price and buyer's premium

One of the joys of handling historic diving equipment for the past 19 years is discovering something you never knew existed! This truly historic World War II divers’ knife is such an item.

The Commonwealth Salvage Board was established on March 14, 1942, in Australia during World War II. It was the Australian governments authority over maritime salvage during WWII and was abolished after the end of WWII on January 1, 1946. During its operational life, it salvaged 83 out of 86 vessels, and its Chief Salvage Officer was the legendary Captain J.P. Williams, who was later knighted for his service. A book on salvage inscribed to Captain Williams from author David Masters is in the following Lot. As Australia was a British Commonwealth nation, English diving equipment manufacturers Siebe Gorman and Heinke were traditionally the nations suppliers, but their supply chain from England was cut off in WWII, and Australia had to design and manufacture any new diving equipment it wanted. The Robison diving helmet is a prime example. This very, very, rare divers knife is another.

The knife is approximately 12.25 inches long and weighs 3.98 lbs. The knife blade measures approximately 7.875 inches long, and the knife alone weighs 1.91 lbs. The blade is in good complete condition with mild pitting from approximately 80 years of wear, and there is no damage to either cutting edge. The non-ferrous custom handle of the knife is stamped GREGORY STEEL PRODUCTS, MADE IN AUSTRALIA. The word STEEL is faded and not completely legible, but upon our research, we are convinced that the word STEEL is correct. The heavy brass sheath of this knife is based on the pressure-clip sheaths of Siebe Gorman and Heinke. The pressure clip is in place, and it holds the knife well. The sheath has the name of the government department, Commonwealth Salvage Board, boldly cast into the surface. It retains the leather loop for attaching it to the diver’s belt and has a leather strap with a buckle to secure the knife handle. The word CRUSADER is cleanly stamped into the top of the sheath, and probably denotes the knife was part of dive locker of the Australian Army Amphibious vessel AV2767 CRUSADER.

From the internet: Gregory Steel Products Melbourne was in business from c. 1912-1975. James (Jim) Havelock Gregory, an experienced saw-filer (saw doctor), began his own blade sharpening service in Melbourne in 1912. The firm produced and designed a large variety of knife patterns and in 1952, had the distinction of being the largest manufacturer of knives in the Southern Hemisphere. The company closed in 1970. More information on the manufacturer is in the book Edgemaster by Keith Spencer.

An extremely rare WWII diver’s knife in very, very good condition and a signature piece for any collection of military diving knives.

All items will be shipped with a signature required upon delivery and full insurance either via FedEx or the USPS Priority Mail. Worldwide shipping is available; however, no ocean freight will be offered on large items. DHL Express is an option for international shipments under 600 pounds via air. Payment via bank wire for customers outside the USA is required. A shipping quote prior to the auction can be provided by emailing your postal code. International bidders are advised that some countries do not allow the importation of knives. Nations Attic is not responsible for shipping charges going or coming back if your countries customs denies delivery. Rejected items can be consigned into a future sale as there are no refunds.