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Friday, March 23


March 23, 2007 — 10:06 pm
Comments: 3

Meet my stuff


This is one of my favorite objects in the whole wild world (no, no…not the dime. Well, yes, actually…mercury dimes are nice, too).

In the late seventies, my mother bought a piece of property way back in the woods. There was a wobbly old barn and the foundation of an even older house. As she stepped onto the foundation the first time, her foot kicked loose this tiny pocket knife.

Possibly you must hold this thing in your hand to grok how cool it is. It was made with the most basic hand tools — there are clear file scrapes and hammer marks — apparently out of scraps of waste metal. The lack of polish and the hesitation around some of the cut marks suggests its creator was an amateur. The handle is horse hoof, I think. It looks, in short, like it was beaten together out of found junk.

It is, however, beautifully conceived and beautifully made. The lines are perfect. The mechanism is simple — that metal tab lifts and slips into a notch in the spine, lifting the backstrap and unlocking the blade — but it’s smooth and sure, even now. It is crude and it is amazingly elegant.

The two brass bands are an ornamental touch not repeated on the other side. Did he decide he didn’t like the look? Was he interrupted before he finished? How old is it, anyway? It is a puzzling artifact. I want to hold it in my hands and shout at it. “Cough it up! Tell me the story, goddamn you!”

I ran across it again today rummaging around for a stamp. This is a humbling object. It was, in all likelihood, hammered together out of crap by an ignorant farm hand in his spare time.

I can’t shake the feeling he’s worth three of me.

— 4:58 pm
Comments: 14