Bob Cumming was born in Newark, NJ on October 27, 1944. When he was a year old, his parents moved to the small Adirondack Mountain village of Saranac Lake, NY. In 1947 Bob’s father returned to service in the U.S. Merchant Marine but in 1953 moved the family to Dunedin, Florida, a small Gulf coast town just north of St. Petersburg.
In 1964 Bob Joined the United States Air Force and became a communications specialist, a skill he brought to civilian Federal service in 1969 when he joined the U.S. Department of State. Until his retirement in 1997, Bob served entirely overseas at diplomatic posts in Central America, Western and Eastern Europe, East and North Africa, the Middle East including Israel, and Mexico. While serving in Ethiopia in 1976, Bob developed a strong friendship with the late Jim Nolen of Corpus Christi, Texas who mentored him via numerous letters during the early stages of his knife-making career. Bob exchanged exotic handle materials he acquired in East Africa for trade secrets Nolen freely shared. In 1978 Bob sold his first knife shortly after transferring to Denmark. Nolen soon died, however, thus ending Bob’s formal training.
Since 1978, Bob Cumming ‘s work has been admired around the world and here at home. Following the terrorist bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon in 1983, Bob designed and built a Bowie-style commemorative knife dedicated to the U.S. Marines who died in the tragedy. At ceremonies in 1984 at the National Knife Museum in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Bob’s “Purple Heart” commemorative fighting knife was presented to Gen. Gray, commanding officer of the 2nd Marine Division, and put on permanent display at HQ CO, Headquarters 2nd Marine Division at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina. Since then, Bowie knives have been a mainstay of Bob’s work.
CUMMING KNIVES are well known in more than two dozen countries and throughout the United States. While on assignment in Israel in 1982-84, for example, Bob’s work began appearing in KNIVES, and he was featured in “State”, the official newsletter of the U.S. Department of State. A feature also appeared in National Knife Collector Magazine, and his work also has appeared in Knives Illustrated and Knife World. In 1992 one of Bob’s “American” style hunters was honored in Denmark at the Scandinavian Knifemaker’s Competition. The only non-Scandinavian to participate in this premier European event, Bob clearly established his credentials as a knifemaker of international prominence. In 1992, he collaborated with Danish knifemaker Marc Carlsson on the design and construction of 12 commemorative knives for a U.S. F-16 Fighter Pilot training squadron based in Denmark. In 1983-84, Bob taught himself how to scrimshaw, and examples of this work also appeared in KNIVES.
During the 1984-86 timeframe, CUMMING KNIVES were the focus of attention by U.S. Marines, this time in Nicaragua. Bob’s exceptional fighters and combat knives later were carried by U.S. commandos in Panama, and by U. S. Army Rangers at Ft. Bragg, NC, home of the 82nd Airborne Division. Navy Seals also carried CUMMING KNIVES, designed with underwater capabilities in mind. American military men and women have forged a close association with CUMMING KNIVES, and Bob remains close to these dedicated servants, providing them with high quality knives, each custom made.
Most of Bob Cumming ’s hunters are small, usually with blades 4 inches or less. Hollow and flat-ground from ATS-34, and 440-C stainless, and O-1 and D-2 tool steel, their slim, lightweight designs are made with both men and women in mind. Although Western-style knives historically tend to be heavy and long, experience shows that small, slim blades of simple yet strong design work best. Experienced guides in Colorado’s Southern Rockies, Wyoming’s Grand Tetons, and the Sangre de Cristo range in northern New Mexico all agree that a well-made, lightweight hunter works best. In New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness, Bob’s knives are among favorites used by guides and ranchers, as is true on the Jicarilla Apache Reservation where trophy mule deer and North America’s largest elk attract sportsmen and women from around the globe: CUMMING KNIVES are synonymous with simplicity, strength, functionality and, above all, superb construction and finish.
As indicated by examples here, Bob attaches great importance to the fabled Bowie knife. His work reflects great precision, attention to detail, a unique way of combining exotic materials, and superb fit and finishing. Leather sheaths, especially those reflecting the style of the Plains Indians, are works of art that reflect a special understanding of the talents of these unique peoples.
Bob is married to Kirsten Petursson, a native of Denmark. The couple make their home in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains just east of Albuquerque, New Mexico where they live with Moncho, their golden retriever. Two adult sons, one overseas and another in the U. S., round out the family. In his spare time, Bob enjoys fly fishing for mountain trout, and building custom-made fly rods. An avid fisherman, he has fished and scuba dived all over the world, notably the Maldive Islands in the Indian Ocean. Other pastimes include Native American history, rhythm and blues, light carpentry, and volunteering.