Bradford, Pa., here I come

Well not exactly, not today anyway. Really not until July, but I am going.

Case Collector Appreciation Weekend 2008

Every two years, the W. R. Case Cutlery Company hosts their Case Collector Appreciation Weekend and I’m going.  It’s a fantastic time for any knife nut. Even if you are not an ardent Case fan by the time it’s over, you will be.

Why am I going to travel 900 miles to attend this event? Because Case asked me to, that’s why. Many of you know I’m a fourth generation auctioneer. And while I don’t sell knives in my real job, I can and for this special event- I will.

Case hosts an auction at each of these events. They sell one-of-a-kind knives made especially for their fans. This will be my third year to be their auctioneer…evidently my southern drawl isn’t too noticeable when I chat.

I know it’s a little early  to hit the road now, but do make plans to attend and please let me know when you do. We’ll make time to grab a cup of coffee together.

Published in: on February 25, 2010 at 9:36 am  Comments (5)  
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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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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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CNJ Knife Company History Trivia- Slogans

triviapursuit

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

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Published in: on November 3, 2009 at 11:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Cutlery News Journal Makes History!

knives2010Cutlery News Journal (CNJ) is recognized by Krause Publications’ Knives 2010– The World’s Greatest Knife Book by making their Knife Publication list.  Cutlery News Journal is the first blog to make the list. All other knife publications shown are traditional print media.

CNJ began last year and is the first independent knife collector news blog. Blogs are web media outlets published electronically. All articles are stored for easy topic search by their subscribers.

Krause Publications is a subsidiary of F + W Media, the leading enthusiast content provider and marketer of magazines, including Blade, books, conferences, and interactive media properties.

Photo credit: Krause Publications

Pieces of cutlery history travel down through time- together

puzzleMany collectors of vintage knives also collect old knife company memorabilia- the knife boxes, letterhead, ads, catalogs, buttons, signs, letters, photographs and those type things from their favorite knife company of days gone by. These rare items are pieces of the puzzle to help us get a better glimpse into the life and times back then.

Anytime we can link two or more items directly, like a knife box marked with the our favorite knife pattern number, an old ad illustrating our favorite knife or an old invoice with our knife’s pattern number on it, we go nuts.

Not long ago I had the opportunity to purchase some knife company memorabilia from a collector- old knife boxes, billheads, invoices, postcards and the like from many of the granddaddies of American cutlery firms. I didn’t study them at the time, instead I put them in plastic sleeves and then in notebooks labeled for each of the knife companies.

Only later when I was looking up some knife history factoid did I realize two of the items directly linked. Yes, they were both from the year 1900 and also both from Case Brothers Cutlery Co., Little Valley, NY, but to me the direct link is they were both addressed to a Mr. G. C. Monchow in Marilla, NY and are about the same knife order.

casebrothersmonchow

On Oct 29, 1900, Case Brothers issued an invoice to Mr. Monchow showing the order and shipment method initialed by the salesman “JRC” (John Russell ‘Russ” Case- the eventual founder of W R Case & Son). Then on Nov. 12th, 1900, Case Brothers mailed a postcard to Mr. Monchow acknowledging his payment on that specific order.

“We acknowledge with pleasure the receipt of your favor of Nov. 10 enclosing check for $62.08 which has been placed to your credit, in payment of bill of Oct. 29, 1900 for which accept our thanks: cordially inviting your further orders, we remain, yours respectfully,” Case Bros., Cutlery Co.

Pretty cool, isn’t it? It is extremely rare for two directly related items of cutlery history both to have survived and still together after 109 years!

In case you are wondering, Mr. Monchow owned a general store in Marilla (Erie County) New York. The store opened under the name H. T. Foster & Co. in 1865. Mr. Monchow became a partner in 1874. He survived his partner and sometime between 1889 and 1900 changed its name to G. C. Monchow & Co- the name reflected on the billing invoice and receipt from Case Brothers. The store closed in 1938.

A lesson from cutlery history: Getting knife buyers to buy

bluelightIn hard economic times what is the most common approach used by retailers and knife company dealers to sell more knives? You guessed it- cut the prices.

Today, there is no doubt everyone involved in selling goods and services is feeling the pinch of consumers pulling back. The tightening of the purse strings started back around October of last year. Since then it seems everyone is running a sale.

Got an email notice from a knife manufacturer just yesterday about a “One-half off for one day only” sale.

One Case dealer in North Carolina ran a special on all Case knives for 20% off. The business owner commented after the sale, “We actually made a few sales that day.”

But this phenomenon of running a sale to move merchandise- and in our case, knives is nothing new. In fact, it was such a problem in the 1930’s a cutlery publication tried to rein in the knife industry through a series of editorials and articles.

painescutjrnlmastheadOne  such example-  June 1932 edition of Paine’s Cutlery Journal reported, “It is suicide, of course, to merely slash prices in order to get business, and the business man who thinks he can beat a cost plus profit basis better give up now.”

In many cases, the answer, according the PCJ was more and continued advertising. If one subscribes to this theory, then today the approach would be broader than simply advertising- running ads- it’s having a strong market presence and brand awareness to help achieve what is called in the marketing world as “top of mind consciousness” among the targeted group. And in a highly fragmented market, like we have today, one of the best approaches knife companies and dealers have is to go where the knife collectors and buyers spend a great deal of time- online.

Leading Knife Companies Hold Gigantic Knife Auctions

Now that it appears the immediate threat to the Knife Manufacturers is well in hand, these companies’ focus is back to the business. Yes, before the recent scare about the Customs and Border Patrol redefining a switchblade, the knife makers had a more pressing problem- very sluggish knife sales.

Knife companies, like other manufacturers, are trying to balance production against sales orders. Unfortunately, knife companies are out there with a high level of knives produced before the severity of this current economic slowdown was clear.

In the past, knife companies found themselves in a similar dilemma, that is a substantial inventory on hand and insufficient demand through their normal channels to absorb it within a reasonable period of time.

Knife inventory represents precious capital.

J P King Auction Did you know cutlery history provides us examples of knife companies actually cooperating together during tough economic times to sell off their respective knife inventory?

Knife companies joined forces to hold gigantic knife auctions.

gavelA large two day auction of pocket knives and other cutlery was held on February 13 & 14, 1877.  John Russell Cutlery Company, Meriden Cutlery Company, Lamson & Goodnow, Frary & Clark, Beaver Falls and Chicago Cutlery contributed inventory. The New York Times reported “..the prices obtained were extremely satisfactory, being well up to current market prices. There was a very large attendance, including representatives of the leading houses in Boston, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Chicago, Baltimore, and even San Francisco.”

gavelAlso another very large 4 day sale conducted in New York that same year. The knife inventory was contributed directly from the manufacturers. Buyers came from all over the country, including 156 wholesale and dealer firms, as reported in the August 13th 1877 edition of The New York Times. The articles also notes, “Prices ran well, and the sale is said to indicate that there will be a good demand for cutlery this fall and that prices will be stiffly maintained.”

gavelThe next year another auction was held for “large quantities of hunting knives, pocket knives, skinning knives, sticking knives, and other similar articles.” The two day auction was held July 24 & 25, 1878 and was reported by The New York Times. The article states, “Bidding was spirited and fair prices realized.” And while a lot might contain a single knife or dozens of knives, in all 2481 lots were offered.

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With the advances in technology, compared to the late 1800s, the auction bidding could be simultaneously offered online and “live” right from the auction room. The firms with inventory in the auction would be allowed to set up booths outside the auction ballroom to promote their firm- much like a huge knife show- but the difference is the real purpose behind the event would be the auction, unlike today, where the auctions are but a side note to the knife shows.

Wouldn’t it be exciting to attend an auction of current production knives represented by all the top knife manufacturers?

It would be hotter than the Blade Show and the SHOT Show combined!

Photo credit: J P King Auction Company

Young people don’t need knives anymore

Hang around the knife industry for very long and you’ll no doubt hear a conversation about how boys today aren’t into pocket knives anymore. In fact, we here at CNJ have reported on more than one occasion that sentiment as well.

Yes, while it is true times have changed and we can quickly come up with a list of reasons, as we have, why this is the case. Young people don’t need knives they way they did last century, right?

painescutjrnlmastheadwoutdateWell, hold on to your horses there just a minute. This problem is not new to our society, nor our time. Listen to this statement as reported in the December 1930 edition of Paine’s Cutlery Journal.

“One of the leading publications in the advertising profession puts for the question ‘Why in the world don’t the cutlery manufacturers get together and bring back the pocket knife with a smashing advertising campaign to prove to the younger generation that a good knife has innumerable uses besides sharpening pencils?'”

So, there is hope because pocket knives became a rite of passage for most every boy up until the mid-1970’s.

On the other hand, there are lots of younger collectors out there- most of them just don’t carry the traditional pocket knife anymore, but they are definitely into knives just the same.

PS: Check out “Knife Collections” on YouTube to find over 6000 vids. Many of these collections are owned by the younger generation too.