Vacations & Outdoor Knives

The year is 1926. Summer time is fast approaching and the local area merchant is getting ready for increasing knife sales and profits. 

Well it takes two to tango, so who do you think were the likely buyers back then and which patterns did they want?

When we think of knife sales, we usually think of it from our perspective- that of a buyer, yet, as summer rolled around back 80 years ago, merchants clearly saw several knife patterns as the most important for increasing sales. 

The merchants and manufacturers targeted a very definable group of buyers: boy scouts, autoists, hunters and campers. Plus they knew the patterns that would appeal to these buyers and have the highest demand- and would sale the quickest.

The common denominator in all of this was- Vacations. In the summer months folks got out and about. They went camping. They took road trips. Young boys went to summer camps. All this outdoor activity directly resulted in more knives being sold.

But, the regular line of jack knives and heavy service knives weren’t the answer. Instead, knives were produced to especially satisfy these buyers demands- the outdoor knives: (click to enlarge)

July 1926 Popular Summer Patterns

July 1926 Popular Summer Patterns


Don’t think the numbers weren’t huge either. In Getting Ready for the Vacationist published in the July edition of Paines’ Cutlery Journal, merchants were encouraged to “Visualize an army of nearly 700,000 boy scouts ready to join their summer camps- all eager to carry with them the latest style of pocket knife… Think of the hundreds of thousands not enlisted in the scouts who are also ready to get out in the country. Pocket knives of the outdoor design are decidedly one of the dealer’s best bets to increase profits at this season of the year.”

And buy they did, and thankfully so. Outdoor and Scout knives are widely collected today because manufacturers back then continued to create and satisfy the demand of the time.

Published in: on October 7, 2008 at 6:17 am  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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