Remember boys and girls, the mantra to protect yourself against fakes is this:
First Read the Knife
(and the sheath), without any regard to the markings. Determine what the knife is, or might be, while ruling out what it is not. Determine what its materials are, and how they were worked. Examine patina, wear, and damage, determining whether they appear natural or induced.
Second Read HOW
(including where) the Markings Were Made
. This will tell you if the markings are real, and also if they are original, appropriate, and correct to the item or not. Even if a marking is real, this alone does not mean that the item is real. Knife fakers will cut a piece of blade with a real marking out of a real but inexpensive knife, such as a carving knife, and weld this piece of steel into (or even onto the surface of) a phony bowie or military knife knife blade. Or they will weld a new blade onto the real but broken or cut off tang of an old pocketknife blade. First Read the Knife.
Third and always LAST, Read What the Markings Happen To Say
. Everyone’s impulse is first to read the name on the knife, the signature on the painting, the autograph on the baseball, before looking at anything else. But if the item is a fake or re-work, or if the marking is either phony, or real but inappropriate, it simply DOES NOT MATTER what the marking happens to say. It will only confuse you to look at it first.
I did not learn this lesson until my close-up vision began to go, thanks to presbyopia, and I often found myself looking at knives without being able to read the markings. To my surprise this made it easier for me to identify fakes, rather than harder, because I would give the knife a thorough examination before fumbling around for my reading glasses or magnifying loupe to read the markings.
This in turn explains why the purveyors of new imported knives marked with old but irrelevant American brand names, often stamp those names in large bold type. If the letters are big enough, us over-40s will be able read the old names first, and then overlook that the knives are brand new.