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. 

**The Case Cutlery Dynasty, by Brad Lockwood

**Knife World– the classic knife publication with searchable online index

*Images of America- W. R. Case & Sons Cutlery Company, by Shirley Boser and John Sullivan

**Levine’s Guide To Knives And Their Values, 4th Edition, by Bernard Levine

**Goins’ Encyclopedia of Cutlery Markings, by John and Charlotte Goins

Cattaraugus Cutlery Co. Identification and Values, by Roy Ritchie and Ron Stewart

*The IBCA Price Guide to Antique Knives, by J. Bruce Voyles

Counterfeiting Antique Cutlery, by Gerald Witcher

Big Book of Pocket Knives- Identification & Values, by Ron Stewart and Roy Ritchie

Cultural Resources Site Examination of New York State Museum Site 109035- New York Knife Company, prepared by Joseph Sopko

*Antique Sunfish Pocketknives- A History & Price Guide, by Russ Altamore

**Case- The First 100 Years, A Pictorial and Historical Review of W. R. Case & Sons Cutlery, by James Giles

American Pocketknives, by David Krause

American Premium Guide to Knives & Razors- Identification and Value Guide, 6th Edition, by Jim Sargent

**The Knife Makers Who Went West, by Harvey Platts

Pocket Knives- The Collector’s Guide to Identifying, Buying, And Enjoying Vintage Pocketknives, by Bernard Levine

Knives of the World, by Jean-Noel Mouret

A Guide To American Trade Catalogs 1744- 1900, by Lawrence Romaine

The Standard Knife Collector’s Guide, by Ron Stewart and Roy Ritchie

Pocket Knife Trader’s Price Guide, by Jim Parker

Official Price Guide to Collector Knives, by Houston Price

Price Guide To Romance of Knife Collecting, by Dewey Ferguson

Napanoch- A “White Man’s” Knife with A “Red Man’s” Name, by Rhett Stidham

**Case Brothers Little Valley, NY Catalog 1904

American Knives- Their First History And Collector’s Guide, by Harold Peterson

*Tidioute- A Town with an Edge, by David Anthony

The Cutlery Trades, by G. I. H. Lloyd

The Sample Case Magaine

*Paine’s Cutlery Journal Magazine

*The American Cutler Magazine

*Hardware Age Magazine

Forty Years of Hardware, by Saunders Novell

The Cutlery Story- From Stone Age to Steel Age, by Lewis Bement

A Pocket of Peace- The History of Bradford, Pa., 1878- 1979, by Mary Ann Johnston

Sunday Knives, by John Roberts

Knives Can Talk!, Second Edition, by Tom Kalcevic

Price Guide To Pocket Knives 1890- 1970, by Jacob Jarrett

Knife Album, by Col. Robert Mayes

Knife Digest, Edited by William Cassidy

*The Best of Knife World, Volumes I, II & III

Encyclopedia of Old Pocket Knives Book I & II, by Roy Ehrhardt

The Knife Guide by Bernard Levine- “Whut Izzit” Series

New England Cutlery, by Philip Pankiewicz

Bernard Levine’s List of Old Knife Books

Where do I find these books?

There are some good sites for acquiring old knife books, including Knife World, and AbeBooks, and don’t forget to seach eBay for Knife Book,  Knife Catalog and Hardware Catalog.

Please add the reference books you use.

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hey Scott-

    The list is just what I wanted


  2. Steve
    I’m glad this list helped.

    Sitting down with one of these good old knife books, like The Knife Maker Who Went West about the Platts firm and seeing all those old (and extremely valuable) photos of the factory workers back in 1905ish, is like not only educational, but is highly enjoyable.

    As you probably guessed, I don’t watch hardly any TV, but spend my off line time re-reading these old books. Every time I do, I learn something new I didn’t catch before.

    If you haven’t read Brad Lockwood’s book on the Case family, you need to get it. It almost reads like a soap opera… family feuds, knife factory fires, wild lifestyles, underhanded competition, on and on…

  3. Dear Sir
    I am looking for a copy of “Knives Can Talk” by Tom Kalcevic, preferably 1st edition, do you know where I could purchase it??
    thanks for your time
    K Hill

    • Kathleen
      My suggestion is to look at Knife World Magazine ( online

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