The Forest Master was a very popular knife. It was a camp or scout knife style.
During my research I have identified so many different kinds of Forest Masters. So far I have 9 different Forest Masters in my collection. There are many models I have only seen in pictures, never one for sale.
There are 10 different black Forest Masters I have seen so far. The first 2 models were not shell knives. All models made after that were. Besides the 10 black Forest Masters there is an imitation stag, imitation wood, several different multi colored ones ( purple and black, orange and black, light brown and black,) white plastic and one of the hardest to find, red plastic.
Below are a couple of very old Forest Master advertisements. Probably from a magazine or catalogue.
Below is a picture of my Forest Masters.
The next picture is the 9 different models I have so far.
Below is another picture of the 9 different Forest Masters I have. They are numbered in the order they were made.
EDITED on 5/15/2016 I found some information that has pointed out a mistake in this order. I will be updating with new pictures soon.
The following pictures are of the first model of Forest Master. It has the curved tang stamp that Colonial used between 1926 and 1938. The smallest of the Forest Masters. It has the old style can opener and was a 3 blade model without an awl. It was very thin.
The next 3 models of Forest Master all had a 4 blade large and a 3 blade small model. Model 2 large knife had a secondary small blade and no awl. It had large blade, small blade, can opener and bottle opener. The small model 2 had a large blade, can opener and bottle opener.
Model 3 (1971) and Model 4 (1973) Large models had leather tools for the 4th blade.
Below are pictures comparing the model 1 and the small model 2 Forest Master.
Below is the 2nd Model Forest Master. The 3 blade smaller one.
The picture below shows model 2, 3 and 4 Forest Masters that have a large and small model. The large ones have 4 blades and the small ones 3. Model 2, 4 blade has 2 knife blades and no awl. Model 3 and 4 have a large blade, leather awl, can opener and bottle opener. The small models had no awl, so large blade, can opener and bottle opener.
The 3rd model Forest Master has 3 models. The 3rd model is a 4 blade with what Colonial called a belt punch instead of the leather awl. They are shown in the 2 pictures below.
The picture below shows the 4th and 5th models of Black Forest Masters.
The 4th model had 3 and 4 blade model. Both having the large blade, can opener and bottle opener. The larger 4 blade also had a leather awl.
The 5th model I have only found in a 4 blade. Large blade, can opener, bottle opener and leather awl. It is very similar to the 4th model 4 blade but the sides are more square while the 4th model was very round.
I believe model 5 also shows some of the first sign of trouble at Colonial regarding Forest Masters. It has a lighter, cheaper feel to it. The leather awl is very thin and feels like I could easily bend it with my fingers. The base of the awl had to be reinforced with a second, thin piece of metal. I believe Colonial realized the awl was so thin at the base it would be trouble so they re enforced it last minute to continue with what I assume is a money saving strategy to lighten the Forest Master.
I know the year of manufacture of Model 3 (1971) and Model 4 (1973) because I have seen them new in the original package marked with the year they were made.
I believe the last model was made between 1975 and 1979. Definitely no earlier than 1974.
Below is one last picture of all 9 different black Forest Masters I have.