Pocket Knives and Tool Knives in the Early 1900s

cutlerymakersofamer1919headingContinuing our series on knife names and classifications in the early 1900s. For you into the history of our knives and knife manufacturers, looking back reveals a highly competitive and, yet, diversified cutlery market. We began this series with All the types of knives and the firms that made them.

Next, we looked at kitchen knives and the tremendous variety produced. Today, we are looking at the classification list of Pocket knives and Tool knives, as set out in the official directory of the cutlery trade published as The Cutlery Makers of America in 1919.


Just what Is Red Bone anyway?


5 Case Red Bones?

5 Case Red Bones?

One topic frequently discussed among collectors is “Just what is Red Bone, anyway?”

If you are a Case collector, there is no doubt you have wondered this yourself. All you have to do is watch eBay to see all the different shades of red, reddish brown and even brown handled knives- all represented to be “Red Bone.”

I too have suffered from this quandary. I hate to call a knife with red in the handles Brown Bone, when it is half red. Well, what about when the ends of the bone down at the bolsters are red?

Is there an accepted definition among collectors as to the strict interpretation of “Just what is a red bone, anyway?”

Here’s what I found:

“Some collectors mistakenly believe that if the handle shows a slight red tint at the edge or end of the handles it is a Red Bone. This is not correct. The accepted genuine Red Bone in the collecting field is as follows: It should be a deep red tint covering all sections of the handle and both handles should be the exact same color.”

The writer goes on to add, “There are some beautiful knives with a red color and, in most cases, are worth more than a regular Brown Bone handle.”

Pretty Bone

Pretty Bone

There that settles it. If we can now all agree on this as the standard. The good news for all of us with redish bone handled knives is they are probably worth more than a straight-out Brown Bone, but even still, they are not Red Bone.



Source: Ferguson’s -Romance of Knife Collecting (1979 Edition)

Published in: on January 29, 2009 at 6:01 am  Comments (1)  
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We know knives can talk, but what about bones?

drAren’t bones interesting? Yes, bones. They can reveal a lot about a person. 

The job of a forensic anthropologist is to examine bones to piece together a person’s past. 

From skeletal remains, a person’s age, sex, height and ancestry can be determined. OK to all of that, but what about their job? Can someone’s profession be figured out by studying their bones?

Let’s take a someone who worked in the knife industry, for example. Can a forensic anthropologist figure out who worked in a cutlery factory?

Evidently so, and here’s the story-

Dr. Rafael Brusilow (pictured above), a forensic anthropologist, figured out the owner of a particular set of bones was in fact a cutlery factory worker. 

An unidentified skeleton was examined to find it had a missing finger tip and signs of stress on the right elbow. After investigating it, the Dr. correctly determined that the man had worked as a buffer in the cutlery industry from the stress of the right elbow. The elbow scars were from constantly extending his arm as he polished cutlery.

This all came about because the man had been murdered and from Dr. Brusilow’s findings, the victim was identified. And within days of releasing the information to the public, the police received enough leads to eventually arrest and charge the murderers.

Published in: on January 28, 2009 at 6:35 am  Leave a Comment  
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Knife Industry Not Immune From Downturn

The effects of the current economic downturn continue to spread. The NY Times reports today that all walks of life are being impacted, including folks in the cutlery industry.

And, while some of those individuals being directly impacted include folks being forced to leave the knife industry, others are coming into the industry, as a result of a layoff.

As reported in this story in today’s NY Times, Charles DiGisco, of Randolph, N.J., is one casualty of the downturn who is no longer working in the industry. He lost his job as a vice president for sales and marketing at Master Cutlery, a knife maker. 

On a positive note, as reported on CBS’s 60 Minutes– Mike O’Machearley is now making knives for a living after being laid off from DHL. He is a self-employed knife maker, and as a result of the publicity of the CBS segment (and the knife community) has received dozens of orders.

Life happens- so it is all in how we respond to it that determines our future. 

“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” 
                                                                                                    Napoleon Hill

And there is no doubt, our industry and hobby will benefit from all the seeds being planted right now.

Published in: on January 27, 2009 at 8:35 am  Comments (1)  
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Early knife memories

boywithknife1Most of us got our first knife as a youngster. Thinking back, what do you remember about getting your first knife? Do you remember what kind it was?  Did the knife mark a special event in your life?

My early memories tend to be mostly highlights, almost flashes, though my two earliest knife memories are still clear to me.

My first knife was given to me by my Dad while on a Saturday fishing trip. He bought me a wood-handled fish knife. After we had put our lines in I was playing around with it and accidentally dropped it between the boards of the pier. My Dad, my hero, walked back to the store right off the end of the pier and bought me another one. We kept it in the tackle box after that.

pumaThe other knife memory was when I was about 13. Our family went on a trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee where I bought, with my own money, a green-handled Puma pocket knife. It looked something like this one. I always liked this knife and kept it in its green and yellow plastic case and never used it- the sign of a true collector, even at this early age.  

While at the time we may not have thought of ourselves as knife collectors, but looking back, these early knives were the seeds that eventually grew into our love for the hobby of knife collecting.  

What is your first knife memory?

Published in: on January 27, 2009 at 6:10 am  Comments (1)  
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Knife History References

Since the majority of knife collectors are into traditional pocket knives, I wanted to share a list of knife books that are helpful to me when I’m deep into trying to run down some bit of knife history.  

I admit history was not my favorite subject growing up, but for many of us into old patterns or brands, we can’t help but get a little crazy about it now.

Need to check a fact or date

There are times almost all collectors need to turn back to the pages of early American cutlery history to look up a date or fact about a particular company or community.  

An old postcard picturing a burned building

Smethport Cutlery Co. June 1910

Smethport Cutlery Co. June 1910

The other day  I was looking around eBay and ran on an old post card. It pictured a burned cutlery plant in Smethport, Pa. Not sure if it was significant or not, off to my books I went.

Bingo! It was the Smethport Cutlery Co. factory and it burned on June 11, 1910. Even more significant was practically the whole Case extended family had been involved in this company.  

Jean Case, W R Case, Russ Case and H N Platts put up the money to buy the company and not long after that it burned. If you want the rest of the story, Brad Lockwood gives excellent details in The Case Cutlery Dynasty.

Thankfully, I ended up winning this prime piece of American cutlery history, but had I not been able to identify its significance, I would have passed it over.  

Reference List

Here is the list of books I have found to be helpful. They aren’t listed in a particular order, although I flagged some of my favorites. 


Is your knife collection insured?


Weekend Edition

Being broken into is no laughing matter. We have all heard nightmare stories of knife collections being stolen, either from the collector’s home or car.

I know the last thing folks want to pay for is more insurance, but if you were to need it- you’ll wish you had it. And, while I am not an insurance expert, I know that most homeowner’s policies do not cover valuables unless they are within the limits, or are scheduled in the policy, and even then probably won’t cover the knives when off the property.

Here’s what I found that may be helpful-

And while this information was taken from the insurance company I use, I encourage you to check it out for yourself.  There are firms out there that specialize in collectibles.

Insurance is one of those things- if you don’t need it, it seemed like a waste, but if you did, you were glad you had it.

Published in: on January 24, 2009 at 6:00 am  Comments (3)  
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Letter to the Editor and A Message to the Older Knife Collectors

lettertoeditorBy now you see why Cutlery News Journal is different than a typical website.

Aside from it being published most every day, written by a knife collector, and oftentimes delves into controversial topics, you have the opportunity to provide direct feedback.

I want your feedback anytime you think I’ve gone off the deep end, not fully considered a matter, or you just want to say, “Amen.”

Recently, one of our fellow older collectors provided feedback expressing his concern after reading The State of Knife Collecting on the Web

Here’s what he said-

 “I just read your January 13th editorial and my head hurts. How are you going to train, educate, or whatever all of us old knife collectors to be able to use these new (web)sites. I am willing to try but it looks pretty complicated.”

If you remember the article offered a glimpse of knife collecting on the web in the future and ways to attract the online knife community who are not members of any association or club.

Message to the older collectors-

I feel compelled to say to you older collectors-  Learn all you want to, but don’t fret. Our hobby is going to be fine- we will carry the torch.

All the previous generations have done a very good job in bringing our hobby forward to today. It is our responsibility to step up now, and we will.

I also have to tell you- I have peeked at the Knife Community Survey trends. And the numbers are very strong for the “younger generation.” 

Also, the number of collectors comfortable with using the web is the majority surveyed to date. Plus, it reveals a number of collectors who can create the web  “things” as we go forward into the 21st Century. Not that the hobby is the web. The context of the article was using the web to attract new collectors.

Thank You

So, allow me to say to all the generations of knife collectors who have gone before us- “Thank You!” To you who are still active- Don’t back off, but don’t feel it is all resting on your shoulders any longer either. And, while we may trip up every now and then, we do have the hobby’s best interest at heart and will do you proud.

CNJ Member Updates

cnjmemberupdatesOne of the benefits to CNJ is- it is a free site. You can come check out the latest articles and knife goings-on without having to pay a monthly subscription, like many online news sites require…

Now don’t worry, that isn’t about to change, but one of my challenges has been- there are times I need to be able to get a message directly through to you, without posting it here on CNJ’s homepage.

emailiconEmail helps us stay connected, and because of this, I started CNJ Member Updates. 

You sign-up with your email address- nothing else.

You can easily un-subscribe at anytime. Hopefully you will never use it, but if you do the instructions will be at the bottom of my email.

Click Subscribe to CNJ Member Updates. This will bring up a pre-addressed email. Click send. Then you will receive an email confirmation.

It’s that easy. Hope you will subscribe!



UPDATE: If you previously tried to subscribe and it didn’t go through, I had made a boo boo. It is fixed now, so give it a final run.

Who is Today’s Knife Collector?


23_mysteryman_lglWho is today’s knife collector? Well, this much we know- the various associations’ membership doesn’t represent all the knife collectors in the Knife World. The universe of collectors is much larger.

To me anyone who has a couple of knives and likes them is a collector. They may only get one, or two, a year, but are every bit as much a collector as I am.

We also know there are tens of thousands of knife enthusiasts online. Many of these knife lovers aren’t a part of any established club or association, and yet they are very much a part of the knife collector community too. 


bladepollclubmembershipBy the way, did you notice the results of the recent BladeMag.com Poll- over half indicated they are not part of any knife club or organization. 



It is for this reason last week we started the Knife Community Survey. We are not trying to stereotype collectors; instead we are trying to find out who they are today, and a little about them. These collectors are a part of our knife community too.

Thanks for helping out. And as you are out in the Knife World, please let others know about the survey.