CNJ Trivia- Pocketknife and the President of the United States

Knife Company History Trivia

Knife History Trivia

Today’s CNJ Trivia revolves around with the office of the President of the United States and one of our favorite subjects- a pocketknife.

pres-seaCan you name which President was carrying a pocketknife at what historians call “the time of his death?”

While this President is known for many things, one of the aspects we remember is what he was inflicted with that ultimately caused his death.

click to see the answer

alincolnAbraham Lincoln– “The items in his pocket at the time of his death — two pairs of spectacles and cases, a pocketknife, a five-dollar Confederate note and a button.”


Contents of Abraham Lincoln's pockets

Lincon's Jackknife

Lincon's Jackknife


Wouldn’t you love to know what brand jackknife this was? I know I would.

Source: Newberry Library Exhibit; Library of Congress Online;

Published in: on October 8, 2009 at 7:34 am  Comments (8)  
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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. What,
    No US Currency?

  2. The fact that President Abraham Lincoln had a everyday carry on him at the time of his death does not surprise me, although it is news to me. Now,not only do I want to know what brand it is, I want to know the whole history of that knife.

  3. I knew the answer to this because I actually saw the knife and everything else that was in his pockets in person when I saw the exhibit at The Library of Congress in D.C. It was very cool to see.

  4. Didn’t know and is right interesting. You just have to love that. Died with his trusty knife on him…can’t think of a better thing to have…course you can’t take it with you

  5. Wow, a 6 bladed congress. Not a common knife by today’s standards. It would be very interesting to see some detailed photos of that knife.

    When I was a kid all the moms told their kids to wear clean underwear in case we were in an accident and had to go to the hospital unexpectedly. This article makes an interesting point, your every day carry may be what some people remember most about you!

  6. How did the different styles of pocketknives get their names? Why a Congress knife? Barlow and Canoe are understood, but Muskrat? Trapper? How about some articles on it?

    • John, that’s a good question. We know the names early-on were just the pattern numbers, not actually names, per se. There may be exceptions, however.

      In many instances the various names given were simply attempts by manufacturers to differentiate their pattern’s name from the other makers. Take for example the elephant toenail (or Sunfish), there are about 8 nicknames for that pattern. In some cases, nicknames given by the old timers that stuck for the years. I do know also, as with Case for example, they didn’t begin officially using “names” for their patterns, according to their catalogs, until 1968 in their catalog #70.

      It also is going to vary by maker as to when each started using names instead of pattern numbers. And it will vary among the patterns themselves too- some having names before others (for the reasons above).

      Let’s hear it from the individual knife company collectors out there on when their brand began using names along with the pattern numbers, or you who collect specific patterns and can add to this please jump in.

  7. Knife Historian Bernard Levin had this to say- “I don’t know why the folks at Joseph Rodgers & Sons picked the two patterns they picked to designate “Senate Knife” and “Congress Knife.” At that time (2nd quarter of the 19th century) pattern standardization was just beginning. Pattern books from that time show hundreds of different shapes, most of whose names are long forgotten — assuming they ever did have names. By the middle of the 19th century, the industry had mostly standardized on the few dozen shapes I identify as ‘standard’ in LG, and just a few more were added later (e.g. cattle, stockman, scout).

    For what it’s worth, Abraham Lincoln had a 6-blade congress knife in his pocket the night he was shot. The knife is now on display at the Library of… Congress. “

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