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.

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Pieces of Knife Company History

I’m thankful to be a collector of old knives and knife company memorabilia today.

Why am I thankful? Because I can find things folks are selling so much easier now than I ever could have back pre-World Wide Web.

I’m convinced we now find more of what we collect than ever before. No wonder folks used to quit collecting because they no longer could find knives/memorabilia they hunted.

Think about it- Folks find knife “stuff” that we collect all the time. In the old days, it would get chunked in the garbage. Today, more folks take a few minutes to “research” online first. And as more collectors put up websites and other “flags” folks can find to help them identify the collectiblity of this “stuff,” the more it goes into circulation and makes its way to us.

Here’s a great example of what I’m talking about- A significant piece of knife company history.

Napanoch Knife Company printers block

It’s a printers block used by the Napanoch Knife Company during the years of 1900-1919. It sold on eBay for $261 yesterday.

Napanoch Knife Company ad from 1910

Published in: on February 15, 2010 at 11:34 am  Comments (1)  
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Knife Company Memorabilia- Cattaraugus Cutlery Co. wall display

It’s not everyday we find a true piece of knife company history. Last week an item sold on eBay and it was a true treasure.

Here’s the seller’s description:

c.1920- 1930 36” X 48″ FOLDING ADVERTISING BOARD, made of heavy cardboard, beautiful colors with blue, brown, cream, red and green.  The center picture is of a grey haired gentlemen in suit and tie peeling an apple with his pocket knife with “FRIENDS FOR 30 YEARS” in the frame.  The other two frames are (1) a picture of kitchen cutlery with “CATTARAUGUS –IS A GUARANTEE FOR CUTLERY” and on the other pocket knives with “LITTLE INJUN LINE-A KNIFE FOR EVERY USE.”  At the top center it says “CATTARAUGUS CUTLERY CO., LITTLE VALLEY, N.Y.”   On the top left is a picture of the “LITTLE INJUN” and on the top right is another picture of an “LITTLE INJUN.”  We understand that one is on display in the National Knife Museum.”

Oh yeah, I almost forgot- it sold for $869 plus $150 shipping (proving again, good stuff brings good prices, even in a bad economy).

Published in: on January 6, 2010 at 7:53 pm  Comments (6)  
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Interview with Tom Marino- George Schrade fan and Push Button Knife Collector

Collector Tom Marino holding a New York Knife Co. display knife

Met a new collector friend at Parkers Show near Gatlinburg, Tn on Friday. As I roamed the isles, I passed Tom Marino’s table and couldn’t help but notice this huge New York Knife Co. display knife featured front and center. It was etched “Hammer Brand” and had bails on both ends so it could be hung.

Tom is a member of the Northeast Cutlery Collector Association and sets up at shows throughout the eastern-half of the country. As I admired his NYKC display knife, we got to talking. He is a huge George Schrade and Push Button Knife fan. The minute he started telling me about them, I recognized his passion immediately and pulled out my iPhone to record all the nuggets.

Allow me to introduce Tom Marino, as he shares his passion for the Push Button Knife and George Schrade, its inventor.

This interview is posted at the CutleryNewsJournal YouTube Channel.

Cutlery History- Case Brothers Cutlery Company Wood Knife Box

My mind’s on knife history right now. I’ve always heard if you think on a thing a lot you develop ruts in your mind and your thinking tends to run along those lines, so I guess this is why my last few post have related to cutlery company history.

The second reason cutlery history is top of mind for me right now- I found a knife box at Parkers Knife Show yesterday. This knife box is different from the typical old paper box commonly found. Yep. This is a wood knife box. Rarely will you find a wooden knife box.

On top of that most knife boxes are made for a single knife, whereas this knife box was used to contain up to at least a dozen knives. How cool is that?! But wait- it gets even better!

Wood Case Brothers Knife Box c.1907/1908

Case Brothers Cutlery Company

This knife box was used by Case Brothers Cutlery Company (c.1900- 1914). You probably already know Case Brothers is one of my all-time favorite old knife companies. This box is guesstimated to have been used around 1907/08 based on its reference to their Kane, Pa. factory.

Marked Pattern No. 6250  1/2 Dozen

Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you this particular box contained a half dozen of their 6250 pattern (their “bone stag” handle material number) knives. Do you know what knife that is? The answer is what we call the Elephant Toenail, of course. As we’ve discussed in Pieces of cutlery history travel down through time together, you know anytime I can link  items from cutlery history I am ecstatic, and particularly, when one of the items is my favorite knife.

1904 Case Brothers Cutlery Co. '50 catalog listing

Case Family & American Cutlery History Video Documentary by Brad Lockwood Part II

Today is Part II of the video documentary by Brad Lockwood, the great-great-great grandson of Job Case- the patriarch and icon of the Case family cutlers.

This two-part series is much like a cliff notes narrated version of his fantastic book, “Tested XX – The Case Cutlery Dynasty.” Brad does an excellent job providing us footage of many of the historic homes and knife factory sites in Little Valley, NY- “The Village of Knives,” in addition to Case family history. Members of the Case family either worked for or started 32 different knife companies over the years.

If you missed Part I, here it is. Check it out. You will like it.

Published in: on December 11, 2009 at 7:52 am  Comments (3)  
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Case Family & American Cutlery History Video Documentary by Brad Lockwood Part I

Introducing a two-part video series on the Case Knife Family

Brad Lockwood, great-great-great grandson of Job Case- the patriarch and icon of the Case family cutlers- produced these videos for all Case and American cutlery history fans to enjoy.

This series is much like a cliff notes narrated version of his fantastic book, “Tested XX – The Case Cutlery Dynasty.” Brad does an excellent job providing us footage of many of the historic homes and knife factory sites in Little Valley, NY- “The Village of Knives,” in addition to Case family history. Members of the Case family either worked for or started 32 different knife companies over the years.

Stay tuned for Part II later this week.

Cutlery History- Every puzzle piece helps

Let’s see a show of hands of how many of you like to learn about cutlery life in the early 1900s?

I’m excited. Got me a new picture book yesterday off eBay and can’t wait to look at it. It’s a 224 page manufacturer’s catalog of cutlery factory equipment from 1918.

While I don’t expect it to paint much of a picture of working in a factory back then- it will provide a glimpse. And every little puzzle piece helps.

Sounds dry, you say? Maybe. But nothing like the 493 page The Cutlery Trades by G. I. H. Lloyd of 1913. Now that book will make your eyes roll back in your head- lots of charts and tables, and no pictures.


Published in: on December 6, 2009 at 9:23 am  Leave a Comment  
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CNJ Knife Trivia- A Writer Who Helped Make a Knife Famous

Knife History Trivia

Today’s CNJ Knife Trivia focuses on the identity of an early American writer and the knife he helped make famous. There are two books, in particular, in which he mentioned this knife and more than likely you have read them both too.

This writer wasn’t hired for product placement (intentional mention or use of a product in a book or movie) of this particular knife, instead, he only mentioned it, almost in passing, and yet, as minor as it was at the time, these slight references helped promote this knife to generations of young boys making it one of the most popular knives in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Can you name this writer and the knife involved?

Hint: He is also known for writing “Gimme a Case-Knife.”

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Published in: on November 29, 2009 at 3:41 pm  Comments (2)  
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She worked in a Connecticut knife factory from 1888 to 1914

During the Depression folks were hired to travel the Country documenting American Life as part of the Federal Writers’ Project. These interviews are now in the Library of Congress.

The following is an interview conducted with the Widow Buckingham in 1938. She worked for American Shear & Knife for 26 years, beginning in 1888.

This interview brings working in a knife factory to life- in a personal way. It’s American cutlery history at its finest.

It begins with Mrs. Buckingham being asked about the history of knife factories in her area- the Reynolds Bridge area of Connecticut.

“Don’t know’s I can give you much history about these Reynolds Bridge Companies,” she says. “We only lived here since 1916. I came from a knifemakin’ family, though. Worked at it for twenty-six years myself, over in Hotchkissville. American Shear and Knife Company–that burnt down in 1914, and they never rebuilt it. (Goins’ dates American Shear  c.1853- 1914. At one time it employed 150 workers-SK)

“My father was from Sheffield, England, where all the good knifemakers come from. I was six years old when we moved to Hotchkissville. Of course I don’t remember much about the old country, but I can remember my mother tellin’ about how when she first come over here she was scared of everything. Sheffield was a big city, you know, and they weren’t used to country ways. She was afraid of the peep frogs, when first she heard ’em. My sister and my two brothers was born in Hotchkissville. My sister–she lives down here on the flat now–father used to say, ‘she’s the first bloody Yankee in our family, and she’s a bugger.’

“Women in the knife shops? Oh, yes, there was about ten of ’em over in Hotchkissville. We used to clean, and pack the knives, little jobs like that. They had boys to get the work ready for the finishers. Most all English people, I don’t know what it was, whether the Yanks couldn’t learn the trade, or what. Oh, there was some, of course. The men that owned the companies used to go to Sheffield to hire help, pay their passage to this country, and let ’em work it out.

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