The German Railway (Deutsche Reichbahn) by the 1930's had become a very modern transportation system, serving the needs of the country, as well as a acting as throughway for other parts of Europe. It was nationalized by Hitler in 1937. A special protective section known as the Bahnschütz was established using Railway employees. The organization was charged with protecting the Railway system against sabotage, espionage and larceny. The first dagger allegedly worn by this organization was an Army configuration, equipped with black grip. Whether it was actually a Railway dagger is still speculation. Original examples were usually marked with the Robt. Klaas "Kissing Cranes" logo.
The 2nd type worn by the Bahnschütz was a new model introduced in 1937. It is produced of silvered aluminum hilt fittings. The round pommel has a sunwheel swastika on the top. The crossguard features a railway wheel equipped with wings. The scabbard is plated to match, usually being produced with a steel base or sometimes aluminum. The scabbard bands are decoratively lined and the tip has a curled effect. The blade was a plain polished variety.
RAILWAY #41948C 2nd Model Railway Official's Dagger with Hangers & Portepee - Carl Eickhorn
This dagger, together with all of its accouterments, comes from the family of the veteran that brought it home. He was US Army Captain J.W. Plant, a former civilian Railway professional since 1935, assigned after the war started to the 708 Railway Grand Division, headquartered in Leige, Belgium. The edged weapon has been in the hands of the family since the war and comes with a testamentary letter and pictures from the book "Saga of the 708 Railway Grand Division" printed in 1947. The book pictures Plant, as well as mentions him as a member of the roster.
The dagger is an initial production example by Eickhorn. These examples are different from the later production as the hilt as well as the scabbard of these early pieces was produced of aluminum and silver-plated. The later examples had pot metal aluminum-toned hilts and the scabbards were a steel base, having a simulated aluminum coating. This dagger has never been cleaned, nor has it been apart. It reflects the patina of the last seven decades, having been displayed on the wall of Captain Plant's home. The pommel is the two-pieced variety with rounded top and cone-like lower area that hugs the grip. The upper pommel displays a raised-out sun wheel swastika. The center area has a vaulted equator-like ridge circumventing the pommel. There are no hits or dings to this pommel. The ferrule below is also silvered aluminum displaying dual accent lines. The cross guard depicts a centered, winged railway wheel. As is the case with all Eickhorn examples, there is the usual flaw in the wing feathering at the lower left of the wheel. The quillion arms have a branch-like look with lined depiction descending downward. The reverse of the cross guard is plain. All silvering remains intact and is black with patina. The grip is composed of solid black celluloid. It features seven descending ribs and remains in perfect condition. There is period residue and dust gathered between the ribs. The original Railway portepee is tied about the grip. The portepee remains in mint condition. It is composed of woven aluminum cord with occasional black specks. There is no wear or fray. The slide and stem are of aluminum bullion weave having black accent "V" designs. The lower ball is of plain aluminum bullion yarn-like material and is stiffed with black thread at the bottom in the "cat's anus" manner. An exceptional hilt here.
The scabbard is of all aluminum construction. As was the case with these early examples, the throat is built into the scabbard and is merely meant over in place to form the opening acceptance for the blade. When we received the dagger, there was literally a "train door" dent in the lower area, but we were able to successfully remove the flaw as aluminum is easy to work with. The scabbard is now straight throughout. The silvered surfaces are also still at 100%. There is a small area on the lower reverse, where some minor age has accumulated, but it is negligible. The lower chape is in the form of a "curlicue", which is actually a separate fitting attached to the scabbard shell. The two carrying bands having the usual four accent lines together with aluminum carrying rings. It is interesting to note that the upper area of the scabbard around the throat retains its original silver brightness, where is was protected from the environment by the in-place cross guard of the hilt.
The original hanging straps accompany the dagger. These hangers are of a pattern rarely seen. They are the type that display "rectangular-shaped" buckles instead of the normally-seen oval variety. With this observation, I have concluded that this ultra-rare hanger variety was most likely only used with initial production Eickhorn pieces, explaining why we so seldom encounter them. The hardware is all silvered. The top clip is the closed variety. The slides match the finish of the rectangular buckles above, and the snaps are a deluxe variety having silvered finish over a completely plain surface. They are the "push-up" type and are marked, "DRGM" on the reverse. The straps are of textured aluminum bullion, featuring twin black stripes that run the length. The brocade remains perfect being clean and showing no wear. The reverse of the straps features high-pile black velvet, also showing no wear.
As we would hope, the blade is a beauty. It reflects all of its cross grain and remains factory mirror bright. Its tip is needle-like. This blade is in mint condition. The reverse ricasso is dark-etched with the 1935-41 Carl Eickhorn trademark. The original dark brown leather blade washer is in place.
A marvelous, untouched, fully documented Bahnschutz Protection dagger here. Doesn't get any better.
Near Mint. $5,800.00
RAILWAY #40670C 1st Model Railway Dagger - Robert Klaas
This is a textbook Klass 1st Model Railway Dagger. The crossguard and pommel are the generic "A" type. Both mounts are in fine condition, with all of the silvering intact. They do not look to have been cleaned.
The pommel is ringed with twelve standing oak leaves, each with fine detailing. The crossguard eagle is equally fine, showing little to no wear on the breast feathering and with a crisp wreathed swastika. The ferrule is the standard type used with generic mounts.
The grip is the unique type seen on these Klaas examples. If you get used to seeing these grips you will notice the shape from across the room. This one has the traditional nine ribs and is in excellent condition, with only a minor amount of surface chipping in the reverse bottom rib. This could easily be covered by the addition of a standard Army portepee.
The scabbard is also an excellent example, being straight throughout and with good pebbled panels. The silvering looks to be intact and like the hilt it does not look to have been cleaned. There is a very minor amount of age in the surface under the band, but the silvering is still all there. The bands are the unique Klaas type, having hand enhanced overlapping oak leaves and the characteristic asterisk chiseling that disguises the mold line. The thin throat is retained by flat head side screws.
The blade is a good example. It is still bright and shows only the most modest signs of age. The crossgrain is visible and the tip is needle-like. The reverse of the blade is clearly stamped with the Kissing Cranes trademark of the Klaas firm, and the original small leather blade buffer is in place.
A good, solid, totally original 1st Model Railway Dagger here.
Excellent Plus. $2,795.00
RAILWAY #37176 1st Model Railway Dagger – Robert Klaas
As we often see with these daggers the hilt mounts are all the generic “A” variety. This crossguard is essentially identical to the example I show on page 79 of my my Army Book. The pommel is the style that goes with the generic “A” guard, having the stem on the inner center area that is threaded. The ferrule is also the type seen with this style mount. These mounts have perfect silvering throughout, with a very good, deep patina. The pommel has all of the silvering on the upper surfaces, showing a little thinning to the edge but not noticeably. The standing oak leaves number twelves, and are separated by acorns.
The crossguard eagle is an outstanding example, showing little to no wear to the bird's head, breast and wing feathering, talon, wreath and swastika.
The important part, though, is the fine Robert Klass black celluloid grip. This grip has the exact shape and extra length exactly as it should. It is in perfect condition throughout. The sharp viewer will notice that there is still a residue of white paint in the inner rib areas of the grip. As I have said to collectors often in the past, these daggers were originally issues by Klass having a grip that was painted white. After years of usage, the white paint came off and thus the “1st Model Railway” invention was born. It doesn't much matter if these existed in the past as Railway Daggers, as it is an accepted variation and as long as the grip is the proper type and the fittings are the “textbook” to Klass we have a real winner here that adds value to any advanced collection.
The scabbard is an outstanding example, having matching patination. This scabbard has excellent pebbled panels and good overlapping oak leafing to the bands. As we normally see (but not always) on Klass daggers the bands have asterisks which are cut into the two ending areas of each band. Apparently the individual who did the finishing for Klass used this method to conceal the casting seam. A good example of this can been seen in my Army Book on page 119; this scabbard is identical to the one pictured.
The blade of this example is still bright throughout, having a few extremely minor traces of age in the surfaces towards the lower area. Overall, the blade still grades in Excellent Plus, Plus to Near Mint condition. Most of the original grain is still very visible, and the needle-like tip is also present. The reverse ricasso is stamped with the Kissing Cranes logo of Klass, set above the firm's name and location of Solingen. The original brown leather blade washer is in place.
A great opportunity here to acquire a original Klaas Railway piece that is seldom offered today.
Excellent Plus, Plus. $3,495.00