The Big Four- Case Cutlery Company

You know me- I have a major affinity for early American knife company memorabilia and one came my way last week. And while I did buy it, the truth is I am only its custodian for a while. Hopefully, down the road someone else will become its caretaker preserving it for future generations.

What is it? It’s a rare postcard depicting The Big Four- John. D. Case and his three sons of Case Cutlery Company of Kane, Pa.

The Big Four- J. D. Case & Sons c.1908

The history of Case Cutlery Co. Kane, Pa is very interesting. This picture and the firm’s history is contained in Brad Lockwood’s The Case Cutlery Dynasty.  There Brad reports on July 14th, 1908, John Case and this three sons- The Big Four- broke ground on the new Case Cutlery Company factory in West Kane. That was the exact same day, incidentally, of the foreclosure sale the neighboring factory of the Case Brothers Cutlery Company.

Don’t you hate it when life gets in the way

Life happens. Most of the time it is a good thing, but sometimes it can interfere with other things we want to do.

That’s what is happening to me right now. Got lots of “Knife Things” I want to be doing, but priorities, well they take priority- things like WORK, family, kid’s sporting events, situations, etc., can and do cause us to need to focus on them.

The end result of this is setting fun projects aside until the time is right- such is the situation for iKnife Magazine- one of my Knife Things I wanted to have rolled out by now.

So, for you who are waiting on me to launch iKM- I’ve had to set it aside for the time being. I hope I can pick it back up in the next few months. For now though, I’d like to invite you to visit iKnife Collector for good knife conversation and topics.

I expect to resume posting here at CNJ as often as I can, but for the same reasons, might not be able to post here with the same frequency I have over the last year.

Please feel free to stick your head in over at iKnifeCollector. I’ll probably be there when you do. If not, then don’t hesitate to drop me a note to let me know you stopped by.

Published in: on April 20, 2010 at 12:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The State of Knife Magazines & the Web, Part II

Winds a blowing

In Part I of this series, we established our traditional print knife mags are primarily using their websites to generate new subscriptions for their print mags. Then we introduced potential problems they face if they give Web users what they want, while trying to maintain their content for their print editions.

Today, we want to look at the some other winds that are blowing against these print magazines and how they will be forced to change their business models, if they are to survive in today’s Web-oriented society.

Magazines Revenue Hit Hard

As reported in the New York Times, American magazines lost ad revenue- significant revenue, 58,340 pages worth of ad pages in 2009. Between 08 & 09, magazines lost, on average, one-quarter of their ad pages.

Is this decline a function of advertisers shifting their marketing dollars elsewhere or simply a result of their cutting back due to the economy? Don’t know, but it hit magazines hard either way.

Even the famous Sports Illustrated Magazine’s Swim Suit Edition has been impacted by all this-

The 2009 swim suit edition had 1.1 million readers, which is down from 1.5 million. The magazine had 70 print ads, which is 1/3 of the ad pages it usually runs. The President of the firm is talking about how they are using “new” channels (READ: THE WEB) for this edition’s “content.”

Many magazines also lowered their per-copy subscription prices to offset the loss in circulation.

Nate Ives in AdvertisingAge Magazine February 5, 2010 edition states,

“Nearly two-thirds of 344 magazines analyzed dropped their per-copy subscription prices between 2002 and the first half of 2009, but nearly 75% of those price-choppers also saw individually paid subscriptions decline anyway, according to an analysis of Audit Bureau of Circulations reports by Jack Hanrahan, the media-agency veteran who’s now an industry consultant and publisher of the CircMatters newsletter.”

Before we simply assume, “It’s the Economy, Stupid!” We must ask- “Are we witnessing a shift in what consumers want today?”

We Develop New Habits-

There is no doubt consumers’ habits are changing. More folks get their news and information online today than ever before. And I am certain the younger generations are already accustomed to using the Web as their primary source of information & entertainment.

We are in the Instant Information Age. We want news real-time, as it’s happening. We want information when we, the consumers, want it. The Web provides for both of these demands. Waiting on a monthly magazine to come out can be frustrating if the information is time sensitive. If it is not, and the articles are simply informational, then it is a function of if that information is exclusive, or is it provided elsewhere, like on the Web.

Form, Function and Place

MRI (Mediamark Research & Intelligence) MEDIA CONSUMPTION PATHWAYS IN AN EVOLVING WORLD reports-

“Ritual and current day passion for new media aside, there are some pragmatic reasons that arose within all of the generational groups that determine a reader’s choice of online versus offline. Much of print’s strength comes from the obvious portability and practicality in the commute as well as in the bathroom. Many talked about reading in bed. On the other hand, many of our participants spend a portion of their day in front of a computer, for work, school and recreation. Grabbing a few headlines in a short break at work is far less conspicuous than reading a newspaper or magazine.”

New Technology Helps Creates New Habits

How many folks subscribe to RSS Feeds or surf the Web on their phones today? I think you’d be surprised actually and the invention of Apple’s iPhone catapulted us into mobile computing unlike any other technology gadget.

So what does all this mean? It means it is becoming the norm to access the web everywhere, so the argument of “taking a pub to the bathroom because it is portable” is not as relevant.

Don’t like to stare at a small screen?- I hear ya. Pretty hard to see that Johnny Stout custom starting at it on your blackberry or iPhone isn’t it? So, isn’t that screen-size limitation going to deter folks from reading Web-content and will end up keeping the print mags safe for a while longer? Hold on there. Not so fast-

New Generation of Web Readers

Fast forward to portable media devices, like Amazon’s Kindle. The Kindle is a handheld device for reading e-books bought from Amazon. My 14-year-old daughter loves hers.

Apple's iPad

Last month, Apple announced the iPad for mobile websufing and its screen is the size of a regular print magazine. It is not targeting power uses either, but the folks who are computer users by virtue of their phones.

That’s right. Web content is mobile now, even without the smartphones.

In fact, an article on Seeking Alpha came out today showing that the website of the New York Times, the nation’s most popular newspaper, received 75 million page views from smartphones and the iPod just in the month of December 2009 and how the iPad is better than for reading the nytimes.com. Their website is already as popular as their print edition.

And you know what? Your wrist won’t hurt cause there isn’t a mouse. It’s a touch screen instead. And curling up on the couch? No prob. These babies are highly portable.

The Hearst Corp just announced its electronic device for reading newspapers and magazines. It’s called the Skiff Reader.

If this new electronic platform is too George Jetson and you have doubts if they will ever take off? Consider this-

Magazine Publishing Biggies- Conde’ Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corp and Time announced in Dec. 09 a joint venture to develop a digital storefront for consumers to enjoy their favorite magazine content on portable digital devices.

“For the consumer, this digital initiative will provide access to an extraordinary selection of engaging content products, all customized for easy download on the device of their choice, including smartphones, e-readers and laptops,” explained John Squires, the venture’s interim managing director.

The digital initiatives underway by the leading publishers are staggering. The Atlantic Magazine, for example, announced in December 09, it was joining with Amazon for its magazine to be downloaded and read on the Kindle. And yet, the biggest buzz for the print media industry is the development of iPhone and iPad apps for content delivery.

Are consumers now using a new medium for content delivery because they want to or is the invention of web readers an attempt by a handful of companies to change our reading habits to online vs print?

The Skiff Web Reader- Not only highly portable, but also flexible.

The way I see it the answer doesn’t matter because in the end- we will change our habits and at some point- sooner or later- we’ll all be reading online as the norm.

Bottom-line

So, what does all this mean for our traditional print knife magazines? Your guess is as good as mine, but I say the publishing industry is changing, either out of necessity, or survival, or in anticipation of future demand. Many are now trying to get ahead of the curve as we speak.

And if you think knife pictures don’t look as good on the Web as they do in the glossy mags, then you haven’t check out SharpByCoop.com lately.

All I have to say is our knife magazines better take heed cause it is not a matter of if, only when.

Published in: on March 4, 2010 at 10:52 pm  Comments (6)  
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How’s this for an Everyday Carry?

Uncle Jim's everyday carry carved by Ed Olson

Published in: on March 3, 2010 at 4:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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and you thought only knife collectors were crazy

Non-knife collectors often think we have a few loose screws when they find out we hunt and hoard knives. I’ve talked to enough folks about it to know. Even though to us our hobby is perfectly normal and we think nothing of spending/investing signficant time and energy pursing old (and new) knives. We don’t even bat an eye at the thought of spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on a rare find to add to our collection, but to the non-knife collectors our passion classifies us as a bit loony.

Even though to me a collector’s passion is perfectly normal and understandable, I did run across a recent collectible purchase that made me question it.

A 1938 comic book called the Action Comics #1 that introduced Superman to the world sold for a cool $1,000,000. Yeap, a single comic book. It is the first comic book to fetch seven figures.

Million dollar comic book

Actually, this sale kinda makes me feel better about my addiction to old knives now.

Source: ComicConnect.com

Published in: on March 2, 2010 at 7:52 am  Comments (2)  
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Share the joy of collecting knives

Knife collecting is fun.

I think we’d all agree to that, right? But do you know what is equally as much fun? It’s what I’m going to call- Sharing the joy.

Sure, we all love tracking down new, in my case new old, knives to buy and all that is a part of that, but if you want to experience a different level of fun, then help a new collector.

What got me off on this today? This did-

Good morning Scott. Thanks for your reply.

I am pretty much a novice with elephant toenails, but am very captivated by the big funky old time nostalgia look and size. Most of the knives I have collected so far are bowies and conventional slipjoints. I have not ventured into the ancient past yet.

Any advice for starters?

If you know me at all, this was all she wrote. Katy bar the door. Advice, oh my, where do I even begin.

When collectors seek advice the responsibility we have to guide them is tremendous. Think about it. And, I bet if you had to do a quick list of the top 5 recommendations you could do that as fast as you could write, right? I couldn’t type fast enough.

What I found as I offered my suggestions was I enjoyed sharing the joy- helping this collector explore the world of elephant toenails.

So, this collector wanting some advice is what promoted today’s post here.

Want to experience a different level of fun? Then share the joy!

Published in: on February 27, 2010 at 9:33 am  Comments (2)  
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Bradford, Pa., here I come

Well not exactly, not today anyway. Really not until July, but I am going.

Case Collector Appreciation Weekend 2008

Every two years, the W. R. Case Cutlery Company hosts their Case Collector Appreciation Weekend and I’m going.  It’s a fantastic time for any knife nut. Even if you are not an ardent Case fan by the time it’s over, you will be.

Why am I going to travel 900 miles to attend this event? Because Case asked me to, that’s why. Many of you know I’m a fourth generation auctioneer. And while I don’t sell knives in my real job, I can and for this special event- I will.

Case hosts an auction at each of these events. They sell one-of-a-kind knives made especially for their fans. This will be my third year to be their auctioneer…evidently my southern drawl isn’t too noticeable when I chat.

I know it’s a little early  to hit the road now, but do make plans to attend and please let me know when you do. We’ll make time to grab a cup of coffee together.

Published in: on February 25, 2010 at 9:36 am  Comments (5)  
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The State of Knife Magazines & the Web Part I

A recent editorial by Mark Zalesky in Knife World Magazine caused me to stop and think about the state of our Knife Magazines and the Web today.

Mark writes Irons in the Fire each month and in the February 2010 edition he shares with their readers the reasons for not publishing current, or past editions, articles or features online. I would link to the editorial so you can read it for yourself, but…

One of Mark’s reasons, among many, for KW not going digital is a concern about sustaining their revenue.

“But once one factors in the cost of material, preparation, setting it up and maintaining it online….generating enough income to make the effort pay for itself is one hard row to hoe.”

OK, that’s Knife World’s position for not publishing online, so what about our other Knife Magazines? We can tell a lot about their business models by looking at how they are using their websites today.

Knife magazines and their websites

What about Blade Magazine? When you visit their website, you quickly get the impression Blade is stuck between publishing fresh content for their website and selling print magazine subscriptions. In fact, the moment you hit their site a “subscribe” window pops up and won’t go away until you click it closed, or subscribe. Clearly their business model is to use their website to sell magazine subscriptions, or CDs of back editions. To their credit the site does include some articles and a blog.

Then take Tactical Knives Magazine, part of the Tactical-Life family- Tactical Knives publishes its traditional print magazine every other month. Their website is also used to sell subscriptions or back editions but they take a different approach. Once each edition comes out, they will put up the contents. I’m not sure of the lag time between when each print edition hits the street and when they add it to their website, but why subscribe if each edition is published online?

“Stuck in the middle with you…”

The traditional print magazines are stuck-not just our knife magazines, but the whole print magazine industry. Their business model is to generate ad revenue and sell subscriptions. If they go online with their content, folks will probably quit subscribing to their print magazine. Then their circulation drops and advertisers quit running ads. On the other hand, web users today want content- substantive content. The trend is clearly going that direction. Sure some folks may want to curl up on the couch with a print edition, but more folks are comfortable reading online than ever before, and that trend will continue too (more on this in Part II).

Flip the switch?

You’d think traditional print magazines could just flip a switch and go totally online. Think of the huge cost savings- no more printing, paper, or postage. Sell online advertising and move on without a hitch. Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that. The challenge our print knife magazines face is the continual operating expenses during the time to get the new online business model up and running. And they may not be able to have the same amount of ad space in their digital magazine as they do in their print editions, which are very ad heavy.

Plus, another challenge is most content online today is FREE. While there are a few online magazines that charge for access to their articles, it is too early to see if the other content providers are going that way. A publication must have an extremely strong brand or exclusive content to pull it off right now. If the others follow, then the norm becomes for consumers to pay for content, if they don’t follow, then it will be difficult to be in the minority.

Traditional magazines simply can’t make the shift to publishing exclusively online without additional risks. At face value it appears they will have to generate additional revenue streams, like charging fees to join their forums, putting up a paywall to access their magazine or even pay-per-click articles, like the New York Times does with their archives.

My opinion is they are right dead in the middle of a paradigm shift and the answers depend on how you look at it. However, there are clearly other strong forces blowing right now- we’ll look at what they are in the second installment.

Stay tuned for Part II-

Cutlery Company History Trivia

It’s been a while since our last cutlery company trivia question, so for you history buffs, here you go.

What company used this as their slogan?

“It Was A ‘_____________’ That Was Used To Cut The Locks From Samson’s Head.”

(more…)

Published in: on February 21, 2010 at 8:14 pm  Comments (2)  
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Knife Rights Law Updates

Doug Ritter, Executive Director of Knife Rights, keeps us informed of our legislative progress on a regular basis.

Got this one via text last night late-

Update on Arizona Knife Law Preemption Bill

This afternoon, our Knife Law Preemption Bill was passed by the Committee of the Whole (COW) on a voice vote with no debate or amendments. This was the last opportunity for any amendments to be added and none were offered, which is a good sign for us. The COW vote is the last critical step before the final floor vote in the Senate, which is anticipated next week. We are also pleased to announce that at their monthly meeting last night, the Copper State Cutlery Association voted unanimously to support our Knife Law Preemption Effort and this bill.

Update on NH Knife Rights Bill

Just a quick update to let you know that Rep. Jenn Coffey’s New Hampshire Knife Rights Bill has passed the full NH House of Representatives (400 Legislators) with a unanimous vote on the consent calendar. Congratulations to Rep. Coffey on this critical vote. Next stop is the NH Senate, which could be a bigger challenge. Our lobbyist is already hard at work helping to get this bill through the Senate. Help pass this Knife Rights Bill in New Hampshire and send a message to other states with similar archaic knife laws.

Published in: on February 19, 2010 at 6:54 am  Comments (1)  
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