Case Brothers Knife History- An extremely rare find

Had an opportunity to buy a knife recently. Well, I didn’t really get a knife, only a part of it. A blade actually. But at least it was the masterblade.

CaseBrothers51blade

It looks like an elephant toenail blade, or does it?

Case Brothers 2250 005 cropped

Case Brothers Standard Style Ebony 2250 Toenail 3 7/8"

A friend  sent a pic of this blade telling me it was a toenail blade, in case I was interested. It was a Case Brothers Cutlery Co. of Little Valley, NY (c.1900- 1915)- one of my all-time favorites.

When I opened the picture attached to his email, I thought- that isn’t a toenail blade. I expected to see the typical CB toenail blade – short, fat and with a long pull like the one pictured here.

While it was a spear point type blade, and it did resemble an old toenail blade, it clearly wasn’t for the typical CB toenail. “Wait a minute, could it be…..?” flashed in my head. Case Brothers was one of the very few firms to make toenails in two different styles. The most common was the “standard style” – the ’50 pattern (2250, 5250, 6250, 7250 & 8250), but they also made a longer version called the ’51 pattern.

Everybody and their brother(s) made the standard style toenail back in the early 1900s, but the longer variety was another matter.

007 Case Brothers Little Valley NY 2281- 04 copy

Case Brothers Ebony 2251 4 1/2"

You should have seen me dart to where I keep my Case Brothers toenails. Grabbed my ’51 patterns and ran back. Couldn’t get them open quickly enough and when I did- it was a match– the same swedge, the single pull and even the TESTED XX matched one of mine.

20091029_2975

Case Brothers 2251 pictured in 1904 Catalog

Do you know how rare it is to find an old blade that is full? I’m talking about the fullest of full. And yet, this blade represented so much more than simply a full toenail blade to me.

OK, call me nuts if you want, but I value this baby right up there with the best of the best I have. It has it all- my favorite brand, a significant artifact from cutlery history, a toenail masterblade and the rarest of the two varieties at that. It also represents the fullest ’51 pattern masterblade I have ever seen.

20091029_2984

The Case Brothers Ebony 2251 Pattern Toenails

In case you are wondering….


The other aspect that makes this particular blade historically significant is this blade was part of a chart of blades, each stamped for reference by Case Brothers and was used as a tolerance sample. Did you notice it is marked “65?”

TESTED-XX-front-2

Sample blades used by Case Brothers- #'s 19, 43, 64 & 65

Wouldn’t love to have the complete set of #1- 65?

Pete Cohan, curator of the National Knife Museum said, this stamping of a reference number was a common practice of the English knife companies. These blades used in this control sample were stamped, not heat-treated, and then measured with a micrometer in order to determine the exact specs. You probably know too- Case Brothers hand-forged the steel used for the knives, but they die cut their blades.

Ya gotta love knife collecting- I know I do 🙂

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Published in: on October 30, 2009 at 9:10 am  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Very cool story Scott, thanks for taking the time to post it!


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