Cutlery Company History Trivia

It’s been a while since our last cutlery company trivia question, so for you history buffs, here you go.

What company used this as their slogan?

“It Was A ‘_____________’ That Was Used To Cut The Locks From Samson’s Head.”


Published in: on February 21, 2010 at 8:14 pm  Comments (2)  
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Wide open as a Case knife

It’s funny how once you get tuned into something, you all of a sudden start noticing it. Take cars for example, how many times have you bought a new car only then to start seeing your car everywhere. Well, I heard me another new knife saying yesterday.

I was traveling with a new sales rep for our company. We ran to Chattanooga for a meeting and on the way we were talking when this guy said,

“I’m as wide open as a Case knife.”

After about a second, I interrupted him to ask why he said that and what it means. I’d never heard that expression before. I actually thought he used that expression because he knew I am into knives. He went on to tell me it was a saying he always heard his dad use and that he’d never really thought about it before.

Last night I did a search on that phrase. I found it in a Sports Illustrated article where an Alabama-born coach Curley Hallman baffled reporters when he used it. He was describing a quarterback competition and he said- “It’s wide open as a Case knife in a barroom brawl.”

I also found it used by another Alabama coach reported in the Times Daily. Then I found it used by a southern humorist. It was also used on and then again on used in an Alabama/Georgia football game discussion.

I emailed my friend at Case to ask about what he knew about it. He replied he’d never heard of it either, so I have concluded it is southern expression, possibly even an Alabama colloquialism.

And even though I’m in and from the Heart of Dixie, if I wasn’t a knife guy, I’d probably never noticed it.

Published in: on February 10, 2010 at 10:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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My knife’s mystery handles and the history of the Polymer Industry

I’ve got to come up for air. I’ve been deep in the bowels of the web on a quest for knife handle material history.

That’s right. I spent my entire Sunday afternoon trying to determine the handle material on my new C. Platts’ Sons Jumbo Swellcenter. Yeah, I know they are over 100 years ago and the likelihood of “discovering” exactly what these handles are, well let’s just say- remote. But you know it is driving me crazy.

In addition to exploring the web, I also posted for help. Then I got my other two black handled C. Platts Jumbos to contrast and compare- and yes, one is the same material, but the other I’m almost positive is ebony. I even got out my super duper magnifying glass to look at this mystery material close-up.

The knife dates between 1900 and 1905. So grabbing a Platts catalog from a book shelf won’t get it. Nope- I can find little info about their particular handle materials going that route- very little info remains about the Platts operations to help me. Instead, I ran every rabbit I could think of relating to handle materials, foreign substances and the history of plastic.

Here is where I am-

  1. They ain’t glass (there’s a pin crack). That was a joke….
  2. Not celluloid either (no shrinkage or chemical smell when tested).
  3. They look like a rubber substance (like Gutta Percha). They are hard and yet, sound like bone or wood when tapped.
  4. Don’t think they are Bakelite cause the knife was made before that patent was granted, but who knows.

What I’ve learned though is-

1899 Gutta Percha & Rubber Co

1) Gutta Percha dates back to at least the 1600s. It was used in a crude form by the natives of Malaysian Archipelago for making knife handles, walking sticks and for various other purposes. A John Tradescant noticed the natives putting it on the handles of their machetes and took it back home in 1656. He called it “mazer wood.” Its Malay name is gutta percha and as a resin, it is plastic and mouldable, yet hard, making it suitable for the manufacture of knife handles.

2) Bakelite (a plastic-like substance) was patented in 1907. Just about anything made of it is a sought after collectible today, like radios and jewelry. “Bakelite” molding compounds incorporate other filler materials, like wood, powdered glass or asbestos.

3) Celluloid and its predecessor Parkesine have been around for a long time. As early as the mid-1800s Celluloid served as a replacement for tortoise shell.

4) In 1851, N. Goodyear was granted patent on Ebonite, a hard thermosetting material. Ebonite was a man-made substitute for ebony wood.

5) And all this stuff is called the history of the Polymer Industry, particularly as it relates to synthetic polymers, but in the end, I’m still no closer to knowing what my knife’s handles are than when I started.

And after all of this- I’m not sure they aren’t simply jigged wood or bone dyed black either.

Published in: on January 10, 2010 at 7:55 pm  Comments (1)  
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Is giving a knife bad luck?

Folklore, wives’ tales, myths and legends- some of us find them fascinating, while others dismiss them as bunk.

What about you? Do you throw salt over your shoulder when it’s spilled? How about- do you say, “God Bless You” when someone sneezes? Do you walk around the ladder? Do you ever- knock on wood? Or, think twice about getting out of bed on Friday, the 13th? OK then, what about feeling lucky when you find a horse shoe?

Did you know there is a superstition about giving knives?

Yes, let’s just call this bit of folklore- “Bad Luck.”

In a nutshell it goes like this- when you give a knife- you better also exchange something that can be considered a form of payment at the time of the gift, otherwise, the relationship of the giver and recipient will be severed.

You say you don’t buy it and think all these superstitions are a bunch of bunk? OK, no prob. Each is entitled to his own opinion on whether there is any truth to them or not.

But don’t forget to kiss your loved one at midnight this New Year’s Eve… wouldn’t you hate to miss out if this one is true?

Published in: on December 17, 2009 at 10:07 am  Comments (5)  
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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.”


Published in: on November 29, 2009 at 3:41 pm  Comments (2)  
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CNJ Knife Company History Trivia- Slogans


Knife Company History Trivia

It’s that time again- time for the CNJ Knife Company trivia and today we’re going to look at a knife company slogan.

This particular knife company began in 1898 and located their factory in a unique area known as one of the machine tool hubs of the United States.

The company’s slogan was

When better knives are made, the _________ Knife Company will make them.


For the answer click more


Published in: on November 3, 2009 at 11:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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American Cutlery History Trivia 2


Knife Company History Trivia

Knife Company History Trivia

It’s that time again. Time to test your remembrance of American Cutlery History.

This week, we are looking into old- I mean really old-  knife companies here in the States. To get your pump primed….think back to the 1800s. Think about the firms you are familiar with and their locations.  

What firm laid claim to be the oldest cutlery company in America?

Hint: It isn’t Buck Bros. or Russell


Published in: on February 27, 2009 at 6:28 am  Comments (3)  
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American Cutlery Company History Trivia


Knife Company History Trivia

Knife History Trivia

The history of our American cutlery companies is rich. New and interesting factoids are being discovered all the time.

Even though I am awful in Trivia Pursuit, the popular board game, learning about the early days of the communities, people and circumstances of the knife companies is most enjoyable. 

Today, we have a question for you knife history buffs.

What US city at one point claimed to be “The Cutlery Capital of the US?”

Clue: There was more than one City/Town/Community over the years that claimed to be the center of the knife universe. 

For the answer click “more.”


Published in: on February 12, 2009 at 10:06 am  Comments (5)  
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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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Knife Triva- Not all knives are made to cut

triviapursuitIf I asked you to name a knife that doesn’t cut, what would you say?

You want a clue? Well,  let’s see…. OK. It is called a knife, but it doesn’t have a blade.

If you think you know it, then go ahead and click through to see the answer, but if you don’t, here are a couple more.

While is doesn’t have a blade, it could kill you if used incorrectly. It isn’t a knife you would buy to add to your collection.

And, you aren’t likely to see one at any knife show.

Last one- It cost $5 million.

What is your guess? The winner gets a free one-year subscription to CNJ.


Published in: on December 18, 2008 at 6:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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