The Fairbairn-Sykes dagger and scabbard sparked a lengthy battle at Ryedale Auctioneers of Kirkbymoorside between a UK-based internet bidder and an overseas phone. Bidding (slightly extended by a brief phone hitch) took about 20 minutes before the former was victorious at £20,000, plus 20% buyer’s premium.
It had an unusual machined brass grip and a blade with the broad arrow British issue mark and the number 2. However, with the highest commission bid being £400, auctioneer Angus Ashworth declared the price “quite a shock.”
The knife was Lot 4 in a Militaria, Sporting & Firearms sale. “Normally I do about 120 lots an hour and I think about half an hour into this sale we had done about five.”
The F-S fighting knife, made famous when issued to British commandos, was produced in several patterns and many variants. This knife appears to be a subtle variation of the Second Pattern (made by more than 20 suppliers from c.1942) that is known to collectors at the ‘Ribbed & Beaded’ type on account of its distinctive and aesthetically pleasing grip.
The auction took place on June 23.