Knife Company History- There is nothing new under the sun

Antique knife collectors are some of the most enthusiastic knife fans. We can squeeze significance from every discovered factoid about an old knife company or pattern. We appreciate and embrace knife history, as if it were our own family’s heritage. We are simply crazy about old knives and the older the better too.

Yet, antique knives have one inherent problem and we collectors can get down in the mouth about it- claiming it to be a byproduct of the modern-era we now live in with folks having access to high-tech equipment and modern knife making methods.

A Bit of Counterfeiting History

The problem I am talking about is counterfeiting- monkeying with knives in order to cause buyers to believe they are something they are not.

Contrary to what most collectors believe, counterfeiting knives is not a modern-day phenomenon. As a matter of fact, it started before many of the knives we now collect were even made.

“So who are these old time counterfeiters?”  Well, would it surprise you if some of the early culprits were actually American knife companies? Shocking assertion, isn’t it?

American Brands on Foreign Knives

The problem got so bad, in fact, the manager of Oakman Bros. Co. of New York, a large distributor of Lamson & Goodnow, wrote a letter to the editor of The American Cutler dated March 12, 1909.

He reports, “Some American manufacturers are buying goods from Germany, and, upon receipt of same, erasing brands and re-branding with American marks.”

Then he adds, “I picked up a knife the other day with an American trademark on it, and found that the foreign mark had not been thoroughly ground off, leaving part of the word ‘Germany’ on it.  By using a magnifying glass you could detect the whole brand.”

So, if this report is accurate then, counterfeiting has been with for a long time. Longer, in fact, than folks have been collecting the knives themselves.

Now for a twist-

Who is to say one of the knives we now call a counterfeit wasn’t “counterfeited” by the very firm we thought a modern-day counterfeiter was trying to make us believe actually made it.  How ’bout that for a twist? 

The point here is cutlery history, albeit it dark, and also to remind us- There is nothing new under the sun.

Published in: on October 14, 2008 at 6:03 am  Comments (2)  
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