Dean Oliver from River Traders manufacturers knives that are excellent handmade reproductions of the types of knives that were prevalent during the American Colonial period. They are called "trade knives" because these styles were favored by the French Colonial fur traders, and also the blades of these knives were sometimes used as a form of practical currency, which was more immediately useful than paper or metallic money, and took up less space and weight in their pack. These knives were especially useful in trading with the Native Americans, because they did not have the ability to make anything from metal, so they relied on European traders for all of their metal items, and knives were understandably a very popular item for them to trade for.
The River Traders knives have blades are 1095 carbon steel (0.95%) and are thinner than most belt knives, making them better than average at slicing tasks. The heat treating on the blades results in a pattern that is similar to that of Damascus Steel. The knife has a full tang and the handle sandwiches onto either side with small brass rivets. The handles are polished and stained maple, and each knife comes with a hand-crafted leather sheath. The knife slides firmly into the sheath, and wide belt loop is firmly riveted to the sheath, making for a well-finished final product.
Some of the knives have a decorative notch at the base of the blade, called a "sinew notch," "Spanish notch," or "choil" by some:
Folks have different opinions on its purpose, ranging from decorative, to stripping sinew, to being a convenient stopping point while sharpening, to being a way to prevent blood from running down the blade and onto your hand. It adds character to the knife and is a testament to the attention to historical accuracy that River Traders puts into their work.
All of the River Traders knives are similar in terms of materials, construction, and quality, with each model having different measurements and a different blade or handle profile. Here are some video reviews of the River Traders knives:
French Ball Knife (And it was purchased from us!)
Here's a great video of a guy using the Southwest Bird Beak knife to shave some wood into tinder.