Does anyone recall the 007 "flick" knives of the 70's

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by cchu518, Aug 9, 2013.

  1. cchu518

    cchu518 Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 6, 2013
    I'm in my late 30's and my brother is in his mid 40's. He was a wildchild of the 70's growing up in Brooklyn.

    He threw me for a loop as I had told a story about his Buck knife and how all his friends had Buck knives back in the 80's. As I told him that I shared this story he asks, does anyone recall the 007's that came in different sizes. He threw me for a loop as I had never heard of a 007 so I thought that he was referring to some Buck knife like a Kershaw 777 etc....

    I did a google search turns out it was this thing...


    And it had an interesting ruffian story to it... story below...

    Have any of the old school guys come across this rather notorious knife?

    NYC History: the 007 Knife
    Posted on March 21, 2012 by peter

    The 007 knife is an embodiment of New York City’s decline in the 1970′s. The more you read of the street life in that era of the city’s history, the more you come across the 007 knife. As far as I know it was sold throughout the country (it is mentioned in courtroom documents in Massachusetts and Illinois) but it is not written into the history of any other place the way it is of New York City. Mention the 007 knife to a New Yorker of a certain age and background, and they’ll have a story for you.

    The first time I heard of a oo7 knife was in Please Kill Me, a history of the 1970′s NYC punk rock scene:

    Cheetah Chrome: Dee Dee Ramone had given Stiv Bators a 007 knife at one of our first gigs. Stiv carried it all the time, and one time, we were up at the Chelsea Hotel and the 007 was just lying there on a nightstand or something. Stiv just picked it up and mentioned that Dee Dee had given it to him… Dee Dee was Sid (Vicious)’s hero and as soon as Sid found out that Dee Dee had given the knife to Stiv, Sid wanted one too. So a couple days later we all went up to Times Square so that Sid could buy one.

    Accounts differ, but that self-same 007 knife is often identified as the one that Sid Vicious killed Nancy Spungen with (most interestingly, here, by Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren who says that Nancy WAS stabbed by a 007, but Sid didn’t do it). Regardless, it struck me as interesting that Cheetah Chrome referred to a “007 knife,” as if it was a distinct and known type of knife. The detail stuck with me, but I had no idea whatsoever what type of knife the 007 was. The name obviously conjured up images of James Bond; in my mind’s eye JB carries some sort of dagger or perhaps an elegant stiletto of indistinct European origin.

    A few years later I was reading the boxing trainer Teddy Atlas’s autobiography, Atlas. He grew up on Staten Island in the 1970′s, and although from an upper middle class family (his father was a doctor), he had a wild adolescence, which led to multiple arrests and time on Riker’s Island before his teens ended. It also led to him getting 400 stitches on his face, courtesy of an 007 knife:

    I threw the guy with the blackjack to the ground, and then saw the driver coming at me, saw the flash of a knife in his hand. It was this kind of knife called an 007, a flick blade. I remember thinking, That’s a double-oh-seven… It was too late. He stepped back and spun, like a matador, slashing the side of my face. The blade was so sharp, I barely felt it.

    Atlas nearly died from blood loss. The 007 was not a fancy switchblade, or a hunting knife, but a simple pocket knife, with a long blade that opened with a flick of the wrist. Knives like these are called flick knives, folding knives, or gravity knives (due to the fact that when held in a closed position, the weight of the blade should be enough to allow it to open due only to gravity and maybe a flick of the wrist).

    Like Teddy Atlas, Harley Flanagan also grew up rough in NYC in the 70′s. And like Cheetah Chrome and Sid Vicious, Flanagan was also a punk rocker, albeit a bit younger. He began playing New York clubs in 1979 as the 11 year old drummer for The Stimulators and later formed hardcore legends the Cro-Mags in the early 80′s. He grew up in his mother’s apartment on Avenue A, and in his possibly forthcoming memoir Life Of My Own mentions the ubiquitousness of the 007 among the Puerto Rican gang members in his neighborhood in the 70′s:

    And everybody either had a golf club – like a cane – and/or a 007 knife, which was this huge knife, that from the handle to the tip was as big as your whole fuckin’ forearm! Those knives were real cheap – they sold them at every corner store. They were like three bucks – it was kinda like a gravity knife.

    We can see Flanagan may be taking a bit of poetic license (which is fitting, as Allen Ginsburg also lived in that apartment building off of Avenue A) about the size of a 007, but not by much. Unfolded and pointed at your face, it would certainly present a memorable and fearful image.

    It really doesn’t look like anything James Bond would ever carry. Who came up with the idea to label a cheap, wooden handled pocket knife with the “007″ identity? Some sleazy import/export guy who placed ads in the back section of men’s magazines? Or the owner of the sweatshop in the Far East that churned these things out? Your guess is as good as mine. The leather buckskin strap is surely an essential 70′s detail; the detritus of the hippie fashion sensibility spreads even to implements of mayhem.

    The more you read about NYC (low)life in the 70′s, the more you notice the 007. Due to its cheap price, ease of availability, and menacing size, the 007 knife was perfect for violent crime. As an ex-cop posting on the forum notes:

    Back in the day in the Bronx all the mopes carried 007 knives. For those not familiar they are a folding wooden handled knife with a blade generally in the 5″-7″ range. Cheap, and they could ALWAYS be opened with a flick of the wrist... Most cops who worked the Bronx back in the 1970′s and 1980s have quite a collection of 007 knives. And the knives are really pretty much useless for anything other than cutting someone.

    An amusing (in retrospect) article in Jet Magazine from May 24, 1973, discusses a mugger named Butch who, after giving a series of interviews to a newspaper reporter was “tracked down by Detective Phillip Gerard… from a picture in a daily newspaper which showed the back of his head and a 5 inch long ’007′ knife he customarily carries.”

    Funnily enough, Butch was not the only 007 carrying mugger who talked to reporters. In the book Jones: Portrait of a Mugger from 1974, reporter James Willwerth also tails a stick up kid and again notes his implement of choice:

    Holding a concealed 007 knife, a model popular among muggers for its long blade and quick release, Jones hit the streets in the early evenings and mugged in dark, contained spaces like apartment hallways.

    The quote above was from a New York Times article from 2004 describing the 70′s as the “Age of the Mugger.” As the article correctly notes, people either not from New York or below a certain age have a hard time grasping how common and everyday these acts were. In a more recent article published a few months ago in the New Yorker, Adam Gopnik writes, ”If, in 1980, someone had predicted that by 2012 New York City would have a crime rate so low that violent crime would have largely disappeared as a subject of conversation, he would have seemed not so much hopeful as crazy.”

    So, as the violent crime rate has gone down and mugging has for all intents and purposes disappeared as an everyday part of urban life, the 007 has disappeared as well. You can still see them on Ebay, but selling or owning a knife of that type is now illegal in New York City, due to both the size of its blade and its classification as a gravity knife. There are still local delis that sell cheap and nasty knifes in bad neighborhoods, but nothing with the size and grandeur of the 007. The 007 was almost like the Zelig of New York City violent crime, popping up everywhere under the most unlikely circumstances; the same knife cut both Nancy Spungen and Teddy Atlas. It was wielded by every two-bit stick up kid and gang member in all five boroughs. To an average subway commuter or late night stroller, it was the stuff of nightmares. This was the thing that caused you to give up your wallet and your watch. Apparently, the proverbial “junkie with a switchblade” was really a “junkie with a 007.” The era of the 007 is over, but it cast a long shadow over the 1970′s.
  2. HeavyHanded


    Jun 4, 2010
    I'm 45, that brings back some memories - I found one of those in my Dad's filing cabinet, probably confiscated from an older brother. Made it my own for a while, very sharp, probably a 5 inch blade. One of the guys I worked with at the time (I was maybe 17) lived in a VERY rough part of Rochester, immediately ID'd it as a 007. With a big grin, he delighted in showing me how to hold the short thong on the lanyard hole between my thumb and first knuckle, and give a quick snap, opening ice-pick grip in the blink of an eye. I later would switch out the steel lock on my balisongs for a knotted cord so I could use the same method. I never did trust the lock, and the pivot screw was always coming loose, and it had a habit of trying to fall open in my pocket. I quietly put it back in the filing cabinet - had plenty of other knives including a couple of pretty nice balisongs that could be bought at head shops everywhere till Downstate caught wind and outlawed the sale of them.

    Cold Steel would be a good outfit to take those back up - improve the lock, leave the looks, and re-issue those in Aus8...
  3. cchu518

    cchu518 Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 6, 2013
    I would be right there to get one for my brother just for giggles...
  4. HeavyHanded


    Jun 4, 2010
    Man, I'd have to buy five of them. And I'm the youngest, whoever had owned that one probably long forgotten and me standing there at a family reunion with a box of gravity knives...:eek:

    Ahem, who's ready for a beer?
  5. SaintlyBrees


    May 7, 2013
    Thanks for a great write up. I'm not familiar with the 007 and that was my era. Perhaps they just didn't make it that far south (New Orleans area). Everyone had 110s and a very few of the bad boys had stiletto style switch blades. But I can't recall ever seeing a 007.

    Anyway, great read. Thanks! :)
  6. cchu518

    cchu518 Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 6, 2013
    That's a copy and paste with a link to the original blogger. He had compiled the info as that was part of his era I guess too. Really interesting read!
    RIP Dequincy Jynxie likes this.
  7. evanPGH


    Dec 24, 2012
    I'm 24 so unfortunately I don't remember them but being a huge punk rock fan I enjoyed this read immensely.

    Thanks for sharing!
    cchu518 likes this.
  8. darrindlc


    Dec 29, 2020
    There’s some evidence that some or even many of the knives reputed to be 007 knives might simply be other cheap blades. If “007” became street slang for any folding knife, particularly knives used in a crime, the reputation 007 knives have for figuring in criminal conduct might be somewhat exaggerated. For example, an unofficial website devoted to Sid and Nancy reprints a 1978 investigative report by Anne Bardach that disputes the identification of Nancy’s murder weapon as a 007. Rather, she reports, the knife was a very similar lockback folder bearing the name “Jaguar.”

    “Forensic’s prize at the Chelsea, the suspected murder weapon, was a Jaguar K-I I folding knife with a 5″ blade, complete with the appropriate blood stains and fingerprints,” Bardach reportedly wrote. “The 007 knife, frequently misreported in the press as the murder weapon[,] was only one of several knives in Sid Vicious’ collection. According to Neon Leon, the Jaguar knife ‘was a gift he got that day from Nancy… to protect himself.’ Detective Gerald Thomas confirms that ‘more than one knife was confiscated.'”
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 29, 2020
  9. GIRLYmann


    Nov 7, 2005

  10. Henry Beige

    Henry Beige Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 1, 2015
    Wow. Never heard of it. Never heard of the Mercator Black Cat until I read about it here, or the Okapi ratchet knife. I guess growing up in Minnesota really does leave you out of the loop. I had a gravity knife as a kid, styled like an Italian switchblade.
  11. killgar


    Sep 24, 2002
    I know it's an old thread, but since it's been brought back...

    I remember those knives. They were sold by the Westbury Sales Company, importers of cheap knives, I believe located in New York.

    They often advertised knives, predominantly folding stilettos, in the back of magazines and comic books. Although their knives were basically cheap junk, they were very attractive to kids (like me). I'm sure those ads helped to spark an interest in knives in many a young budding knife enthusiast.

    At the age of 10 I ordered an imitation Swiss Army knife from Westbury (I didn't know the difference back then), used it for years camping. And at age 12 I bought my first folding stiletto (a Westbury) from a classmate, it was a prized possession.

    I still look for old Westbury knives online, particularly the ones I wanted but never bought, but purely out of nostalgia. I could have bought a very good condition k12 stiletto recently (one of the knives often advertised in magazines) , but I decided it would just be a junk knife sitting in a box, not even a knife I would have an interest in admiring.

    I always enjoy seeing/reading about those old Westbury knives. Ah the simple joys of youth.
  12. tltt


    May 1, 2008
    One of the biggest cheapest knives you could buy as a kid, even in the 90's you'd still find old stock under $10 sometimes. The earliest versions look closer to the giant locking Sodbusters that were semi-popular in the 60's. By the 70's, you get more of the deep clip pointed versions, probably because of the popularity of the Buck 110.

    No one technically owned the 007 name for these, it just became a catch all for any clip pointed, non bolstered wood handled folder with a blade over 4". The under 4" models are more recent, and the largest version I've seen had a 6 1/2" blade.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2020
  13. afishhunter

    afishhunter Basic Member Basic Member

    Oct 21, 2014
    I was in Iowa in 1954 when I was made, and again from 1956 to 1975, when my then girlfriend and I moved to smoggy Southern California.
    I never heard of the 007. I did carry a 110 every day (includes to school and church, starting in 1968 or 1967. It was legal then... truthfully, after 1st/2nd grade, it was taken or granted that all the boys (and most of the girls) in class had at least one pocket knife in their pocket. (or in their purse for the girls. back then it was rare for a girl to wear pants to school. That "fad" didn't start until Junior High. Girls in Jr. High and High School where I was from 1967 to 1974 wore pants or mini skirts. To be honest, on most of the girls in my class, I preferred the mini skirt.) It was even legal for me to take my .22 rifle to school for "show and tell" (anyone remember that?) in 2nd or 3rd grade. None of the teachers or principal or other students raised a eyebrow. teacher/admin didn't confiscate it, or lock it up in the coat closet, before or after Show and Tell, or call the cops. :D "A different world" then ... and in my humble opinion, a better one ....). (No, I was not the only one to bring a gun to Show and Tell)
    jfk1110 likes this.
  14. cbrstar


    Sep 7, 2015
    I actually came across one while in at the pawnshop while I was on vacation in B.C. But the scales were made of that weird rubbery plastic from the 70's/80's that starts to get crumbly and the guy wanted way too much. (Must have read one of the articles above :D ).

    I've said it before that 90% of most knife crime needs poverty and access to cheap disposable knives like kitchen ones etc. That the person who can afford a expensive knife usually has their life together enough not to use a knife illegally.
  15. Ebbtide


    Aug 20, 1999
    007.... I was a high schooler in the 70s and they were common.
    IIRC nothing much holding the blade closed so it was super easy to flip open. And the reason why NYC has gravity knife laws.
    My Uncle was a cop and had one he confiscated & threw in the tool box. My cousin was messing with it in his room, flipping it open for his friends.
    The knife was so cheap & worn that on one flip the hinge pin fell out. The blade went flying and stuck in the wall a foot or two from his buddy's head. Cousin had to buy a poster to cover the distinctive hole....
  16. brownshoe

    brownshoe I support this site with my MIND

    Sep 6, 2002
    POS knives. Quality gravity opening lockbacks in the 70s were knives such as Puma, Buck, etc. I believe Buck made modifications to the 110 to make it less of a gravity knife.
  17. Sidehill Gouger

    Sidehill Gouger

    Dec 29, 2007
    None of this history seems to mention the 007 was a cheap knockoff of a folding hunter KA-BAR made for a number of years. It was generally considered a good folder for anyone needing a long bladed outdoor knife.

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