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.

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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.

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The Case Brothers Ebony 2251 Pattern Toenails

In case you are wondering….

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Published in: on October 30, 2009 at 9:10 am  Comments (1)  
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Early American cutlery manufacturing from England’s perspective

sheffieldsteelamericaSheffield Steel And America- A century of commercial and technological interdependence 1830- 1930, by Geoffrey Tweedale.

If you enjoy learning about the early cutlery days, then here is a book you should add to your library, plus it is written by a Sheffield cutlery history expert.

I wanted this book because it discusses American cutlery history- from England’s perspective.

You will find the early steel and cutlery industries go hand in hand. Sheffield never considered the US cutlery manufacturers a threat until it was too late and by then our knife companies had captured the US market. This was about the same time America’s steel output, and quality, rivaled Sheffield’s. The combination of lack of demand for Sheffield’s cutlery and steel by America devastated Sheffield’s economy at that time as we were their largest customer for both.

Mr. Tweedale is a Sheffield cutlery expert and author of The Sheffield Knife Book. I was pointed to him a couple of years ago while researching a C & X Lockwood Brothers elephant toenail in my collection.

Don’t expect this book to be a riveting page turner, like a John Grisham novel, but it is a BUY recommendation for students of early American cutlery history.

Publisher’s overview and table of contents.