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

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Published in: on October 8, 2009 at 7:34 am  Comments (8)  
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Men’s fashions changed pocket knife styles

smallmensfashionsturnofcenturyMen’s ready-to-wear clothing became available around the end of the nineteenth century. With the introduction of the sewing machine, combined with the factory system, men’s clothes started to be mass produced here in the States.

As a result the “fashion world” started to influence what men wore. Paris was the center of the fashion world around the early part of the twentieth century. Their fashions changed styles here too. In fact, men’s suits saw a slimming in profile that came in about 1908. 

What’s the connection?

Early in American cutlery history many knives were made big and bulky. There came a time when carrying big bulky knives died out. Some died as the result of obsolescence, but others died for another reason.

Men’s fashions

Did you know there was a time when thinner knives were actually in vogue?  The year was 1920 and the trend became so noticeable The New York Times ran a story entitled,  “Thin Ones Now the Vogue, as Men’s Pockets Are Smaller.”

“Few men, apparently, realize that there are fashions in pocket knives, yet there have been several distinct changes in the popular styles of knives in the last twenty years.”

“With the adoption of smaller pockets in men’s clothes, however, bulky knives have become relics of the past. American cutlery makers, like the watch manufacturers, have styled their products along more handy and compact lines.”

What became the most popular style?

In case you are curious as which style proved to be the most popular-

” The most popular model now is the two-bladed jackknife. As the holidays approach there is always an increase in demand for tw0-bladed knives with pearl handles.”

As a side note here: The article goes on to say, “Around 1900, the value of pocket knives was measured by the number of blades and useful instruments, such as nail files, corkscrews, etc., which they carried.”

Conditions impact knife styles made and carried

It is interesting to see how changes in society (fashions, industrialism, etc.) impacted knives, isn’t it?

By the way, if your favorite large pattern died out in the early 1900s, and it wasn’t the result an invention of a more efficient working tool, then now you know it could have been due to the fashion of smaller pockets.

Sources: The New York Times November 21, 1920; Fashionencyclopedia.com

Published in: on January 5, 2009 at 7:03 am  Leave a Comment  
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What type of Knife Person Are You?

So, what type of knife person are you? Are you a collector? If so, which type? Oh, you don’t actually collect knives, instead you just have a several different knives that are your EDC (Every-Day Carry) knives? You are a collector and just haven’t realized it yet.

I ran across a good overview of the different types of knife people and wanted to share it with you. 

Basically, the author outlines 6 different knife “collector” types.

  • The History Collector
  • The Antique Collector
  • The Custom Knife Collector
  • The Mechanism & Steel Blade Collector
  • The Personal Use Collector
  • The Basic User

It was written by Dr. K. Click HERE to check it out.

I have to admit, while I was at one time a Custom Collector and still find them extremely appealing (meaning I have a weakness for cool knives), I am solidly a combo of The History and Antique Collector at this point.

If you are curious as to the knives I spend my time hunting, I invite you to ElephantToenails.com

So, have you identified the type of “collector” you are? Dr. K points out- “if you discover what your knife interests are early, it can save you a lot of money being spent on a knife that later on you wish you could sell….”

Published in: on September 5, 2008 at 4:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Cutlery History- Innovative Merchant Knife Sales

Do you think about early cutlery company and merchant knife sales promotions and how we as collectors have benefited from their efforts?

If you are into American cutlery history, no doubt, you are familiar with Paine’s Cutlery Journal, but if you are not, allow me to introduce it to you. If you have an opportunity to buy or read a copy, don’t pass it up. Each edition is chocked full of interesting cutlery history.

In Volume 1- Number 1, published in July 1926, Chas. H. Paine, its editor, clearly states its policy and purpose. He states, “In a word, Paine’s Journal will strive to accelerate the steady flow of good cutlery through the established trade channels- manufacturer to jobber to retailer- through more active coordination of selling effort and the utilization of selling forces.”

He goes further to state that there is always a latent demand for pocketknives, which awaits only the proper sales stimulus. Paine’s will “aim to awaken the dealer to the importance of featuring his cutlery department and the additional profit that is bound to result therefrom.” Paine’s clearly promoted the importance of selling cutlery and promotional efforts to help accomplish this.

In this first edition there are several items of interest. One story is of a cutlery man who used a unique promotion to generate 5000 prospective knife buyers in two weeks, while far exceeding his typical sales activity. It is a story of Joseph Glick of Morristown, NY and how he designed a contest for the expressed purpose of selling more knives.

The long and the short of it is this- he created a window display of hundreds of pocketknives designed around the local girls and boys who could guess nearest to the correct number of knives displayed. In 15 days over 5000 folks entered their guess. He used as first prize- a $4.50 pearl handled knife; second prize a $2.00 stag handled knife and third prize an Official Boy Scout Knife. (Incidentally, that first place price equals $54.81 in today’s dollars)

The first prize winner correctly guessed the answer- 654 knives.

Mr. Glick disposed of more knives in the 15 days of the contest than he did in the 90 days preceding it. He said, “..people not only looked over the window trim, but came into the store and purchased the lines displayed.”

I’ll venture to say, collectors across the US have one or more of knives bought new from innovative merchants like Mr. Glick.

Published in: on September 1, 2008 at 8:04 pm  Comments (1)  
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