Vintage David Z Murphy & Gerber Cutlery

This accumulation is by no means a complete collection or representation of David Z Murphy's work as a bladesmith. Nor is it a complete collection of the patterns he made for Gerber. It is the end product of some 25 years buying, selling, and trading both.

There are approximately 120 items listed here in our catalog.

 Some are unusual and a few quite rare. I hope you enjoy browsing through them.  Here are links to the pages in our Products section


Look at all the pics as they are the best part of the description. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments.  Offers, especially for multiple sets,  cheerfully considerd.

barry frizzell


There would have been no Gerber Legendary Blades without one of the real legends of US knifemaking, David Zephaniah Murphy.

Murphy, a Gresham, Oregon blacksmith, became famous during WW2 for making some 10000 of the Murphy Combat Knife. These were unique in that the handle was cast aluminum with a very nice textured bark style grip. Tool steel blades made them not only very sharp and useful; but, very tough and durable as well. As sold to the GI they were quite inexpensive to make and for them to acquire. No one really knows how many were made and sold or how many Mr Murphy just gave away to combat bound servicemen.

These rare carving and steak knife sets were made of those same materials from the mid 1930's to about 1953 when Murphy closed his shop due to a long running feud with Joe Gerber over profits and design theft by Gerber. Gerber lost the suit; but, Murphy lost his business due to legal costs.

The following Murphy knife name abbreviations may be used in the descriptions of the sets:

H = Ham Knife [Xtra Long Carver]; R = Roaster [Long Carver]; F = Fowler [Medium Carver]; S = Steaker [Small Carver];  Fk = Serving Fork;  Ft = Long Filet Knife;  M = Steak knife


In 1939 Joseph Gerber and David Z Murphy formed a partnership to make cutlery sets from steak knives to carving knives, serving forks, and multiple piece sets. All available with walnut wood boxes or chests.

The designs and production were all by Murphy and followed closely on his own line of cutlery that he had been selling door-to-door in and around his Gresham,Oregon hometown since the early 1930's.

By 1942 Gerber had cheated Murphy so often that Murphy delivered the last lot [about 300] of Gerber knives he ever made and continued making the Murphy Combat Knife for the duration of WW2. Then he filed the first of many lawsuits.

This collection ranges from sets made by Murphy about 1939-1942 through the final days of the lawsuit that Gerber lost in 1950 [which caused the change in handle design] to about 1953 after which the knives became chrome plated and Gerber entered their 'modern era' of inexpensive stainless steel and lightweight hollow handle knives.

The following Gerber knife name abbreviations may be used in the descriptions of the sets:

E = Excalibur [Long Carver]; BS = Big Snick [Extra long carver w/serving tip]; S = Snickersnee [Long Carver w/Serving tip]; B = Balmung [Medium Carver]; J = Joyeuse [Small carver]; R = Ron [Serving Fork]; G = Gugnir [Honing Steel]; D = Durendal [Boning Knife]; M = Miming [Steak knife]