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  1. I am a retired archaeologist. I well remember that while traveling in the Maya country of Yucatán in the early 1970s, my colleagues and I bought brand new Collins machetes at a low price, stamped with the Collins crown and hammer logo and LEGITIMUS, COLLINS & CO. Yucatecan leatherworkers were (still are) expert in making cowhide sheaths for these. I still have one from that period of my career.
    But, it is well known that Collins of Hartford, Connecticut closed its doors in 1966. So, what are these post-1966 Mexican Collins machetes? Compared side-by-side to a genuine Hartford Collins machete of a similar pattern, there is a world of difference. The Mexican specimens are far lighter. The steel is entirely distinct, thinner and stainless, although still tapering in thickness from handle to tip, unlike similar Latin American machete blades that do not taper. Handles are cheap plastic, poorly finished with steel pins, although they have held up pretty well in 50 years of use! The black paper label (long gone on my personal example) was very similar to one from the Hartford maker, except that it was identified as coming from Herramientas Collins, S.A. (Spanish for Collins Toolworks, Inc.), identifying the country of origin as Mexico.
    Because there seems to be much misinformation about these and similar post-1966 “Collins” machetes, I would like to see some sort of written history, together with ways for the collector or Collins enthusiast to identify them. Unfortunately, I see these for sale on Ebay passed off as much earlier Collins machetes from the original company, some even misidentified as being World War II vintage! I can’t find any such history or points of guidance, but I have gathered the following facts.
    Due to the huge demand for machetes in Latin America, the original Collins Co. operated four subsidiary machete-manufacturing companies prior to its closing in 1966, in Mexico, Guatemala, Columbia, and Brazil. When the company dissolved in 1966, the Stanley tool works of New Britain, Connecticut purchased these four subsidiaries, which continued to make “Collins” machetes using the same trademark and labels, through the 1970s and probably beyond. These Stanley-owned Herramientas Collins S.A. machetes are what my friends and I were able to buy new. They were made in great numbers and cheaply, in all four countries. The United States military needed machetes for the war in Vietnam, and I have found a reference to a 1972 U.S. Government bid for 59,000 machetes from Herramientas Collins, S.A., for $1.20 apiece. The 20 cents was an import tariff, so they were actually sold for one dollar apiece.
    Looking just at what has appeared on-line recently for sale regarding these post-1966 Collins blades, there is some variation in the logo stamping, while some are not stamped but acid-etched. There is also some variation in the rectangular paper labels on the side opposite the stamp. I can’t tell if there was actually any change brought about when Stanley purchased the Latin American factories. And I can’t tell if there was any standardization among the four Latin American factories. Somebody needs to do the research and produce a guide, so folks can understand what they have.
    In the meantime, of course, you can still buy a new “Collins” machete from Nicholson, which is yet another complication that has absolutely nothing to do with the original Collins company. Or a Brazilian Tramontina machete, which is a copy of a Collins pattern. Any comments or corrections are welcome.

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