Friday, January 29, 2016

Knife from B. Knudsens Knivfabrikk A. S. - Norway

In 1892, Bård Knudsen set up a knife factory in Ilen (Trondheim), Norway. His son Broder Knudsen took over the factory in 1912, after spending some time in the Frost cutlery factory in Östnor, Sweden. 

In 1946, the B. Knudsens Knivfabrikk A. S. had about 50 employees. The factory made all kinds of knives, including models that were very similar to the knives made by cutlers in Mora (after all, Broder Knudsen spent time at the Frost cutlery factory!). 

However, the post-war production was not without problems, and the factory closed its doors around 1961. Below is a B. Knudsen knife (7 inches) made at the Ilen factory.

F.M. Mattsson Mora knife

This is a small (6 inch) knife made by the factory F. M. Mattsson from the village of Östnor (close to Mora), Sweden. This is an older model with the old-style metal clasp on the belt hanger, possibly made in the 30s or 40s. The company goes back to the 1860s and the name F. M. Mattsson was used from around 1914.

This F. M. Mattsson catalog is likely from the 1930s.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

A. W. Wadsworth & Son Germany Mini Scout Folding Knife - Kastor Brothers

Miniature Scout knife – approx. 1 5/8” closed and 2 ¾” open.  
Stamped A. W. Wadsworth & Son - a brand name used by Adolph Kastor & Brothers of New York City.  Allegedly, the Wadsworth brand was used by Kastor & Brothers between the years 1905 and 1922.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Fit for a Queen: The No. 25 Jet by Queen Cutlery Co.

Few knife models are as sleek, curved, and suggestive as the toothpick knife.  Not surprisingly, they became a popular choice for risqué knives during the early 1900s.  Toothpick knives are found in a variety of scale materials in several pocket-friendly sizes.  Throughout modern cutlery history almost every maker and retailer had at least one toothpick model in their assortment.
Contemporary Queen Cutlery Co. No. 20 toothpick - stag scales.

The particular toothpick pattern I'm focusing on here I believe was first produced by Schatt & Morgan in the early 1920s, then by Queen City in the 1930s, and finally by the Queen Cutlery Company from the 1940s.  It is the 1940s toothpick production by Queen that is the focus of this article.  The details of this production is still not very clear and these knives are not very well known among knife collectors.  What follows is my attempt to summarize available evidence of the production and history of this vintage knife.

On July 27, 1948, Eric Clarence Erickson of the Queen Cutlery Company filed a patent application for a new toothpick design.  On November 14, 1950, Erickson's patent request was granted and filed as patent No. 2,530,236.  According to the drawing on the patent, this first toothpick was designed without a safety lock (i.e., sliding safety).  In Queen advertisements, this knife became the No. 25 Jet Push Button Pattern, commonly called the No. 25 Jet.  The No. 25 Jet was manufactured with solid nickel silver bolsters, brass liners, and black jigged Bakelite scales.  It featured a 3 15/16" clip blade and measured 5" in the closed position.  This toothpick had a familiar look, as it was built on the same 5" toothpick pattern introduced by Schatt & Morgan after WWI.
Patent No. 2,530,236 awarded to Eric Clarence Erickson of the Queen Cutlery Company on November 14, 1950.

Although the patent for the Queen No. 25 Jet was granted in November 1950, Queen actually started the production, advertisement, and sale of the No. 25 Jet much earlier.  In fact, a Queen advertisement from 1946 (catalog # 82) lists the availability of the No. 25 Jet without a sliding safety.  A January 1950 Queen price list and order blank puts the dealer cost for the No. 25 Jet at $24.00 a dozen, what seems like an enormous bargain today.  In October 1951, the price for the No. 25 Jet was still an unbelievable $27.00 a dozen.  Based on competing designs and customer requests, Queen introduced a new model called the No. 25 Jet Push Button Pattern with Safety Lock.  The only difference between this later model and the earlier No. 25 model was the inclusion of a sliding safety.  When the No. 25 Jet with a sliding safety was introduced, Queen discontinued the earlier No. 25 model without a sliding safety.  In the Queen 1952 catalog (# 88) and the 1953 catalog (# 89), Queen only advertised the No. 25 Jet with a sliding safety.  I have not been able to find any Queen catalogs for the years 1950 and 1951, so it's quite possible that the No. 25 with a safety was introduced before 1952.  Although Queen continued advertising and selling the No. 25 Jet during the first part of 1953, the June 1953 price list and order blank does not contain the No. 25 Jet.  And, by 1954, there is no advertisement for the No. 25 Jet in the Queen catalog (# 90).  Finally, by January 1955 (catalog # 91), the No. 25 is listed as a Barlow knife and not a toothpick knife.  

Queen catalog advertisements for the No. 25 Jet with (right) and without (left) a sliding safety.

Queen price list from January 1950.

Over the years, various No. 25 Jets have shown up with an assortment of scale materials besides the black jigged Bakelite shown in the Queen catalogs.  For example, it is not unusual to see No. 25 Jets with candystripe scales or other scale materials like assorted celluloid patterns, pearl, or stag.  However, Queen only produced, advertised, and sold the No. 25 Jet with black jigged Bakelite scales. All other handle materials are rescaled examples that were assembled outside the Queen factory.

During the official production, Queen only used one main tang stamp for the No. 25 Jet with and without the sliding safety.  This is the large Q stamp on the front tang.  This Q stamp was used by Queen for approximately ten years between ~1945 and ~1955.  The rear tang on most of these Q-stamped blades is stamped PAT. over PENDING.  This makes sense because Queen already advertised and sold the No. 25 Jet during 1946, which is about two years before Erickson's patent application, and four years before Erickson's patent No. 2,530,236 was granted.  Some earlier blades also had the familiar Q stamp on the front tang but no markings on the rear tang.  There is also another rare stamp that came out of the Queen factory−albeit in very small numbers−from the No. 25 Jet production.  This is the QUEEN CUTLERY CO. over TITUSVILLE, PA stamp.  Like the Q stamp, the rear tang is stamped PAT. over PENDING

The QUEEN CUTLERY CO. over TITUSVILLE, PA stamp (left) and the Q stamp (right).

During my Queen Cutlery research I was fortunate enough to correspond with retired Queen Master Cutler Fred Sampson of Titusville, PA.  Fred worked at the Queen factory during the years 1948 to 1985 and is intimately familiar with the No. 25 Jet production.  According to Fred, the blades with the QUEEN CUTLERY CO. over TITUSVILLE, PA stamp were originally intended for the No. 25 Jet production.  However, before Queen officially produced and sold any No. 25 Jets with this stamp, the Queen management decided to use Q-stamped blades instead.  This means that the Queen Cutlery Co. never officially produced and sold any No. 25 Jets with the QUEEN CUTLERY CO. over TITUSVILLE, PA stamp.  As Fred recalls; “these blades were all over the plant but cutlers were told not to use them on the No. 25 Jets.”  “If any No. 25 Jets left the Queen plant with these blades, it was an accident”.  Original, factory-made Queen No. 25 Jets are not very common.  However, knife parts for the Queen No. 25 Jet have always been available to knife makers and collectors, both before and after Queen stopped their production.  This means that many of the Queen No. 25 Jet toothpicks found today were assembled outside the Queen factory and are not original.

Queen also planned to use a third tang stamp for their No. 25 toothpicks, but this tang stamp was never used in production. This stamp had the familiar Q on the front tang, but PATENT over NO. 2530236 on the rear tang (this is Eric Clarence Erickson’s patent No. 2,530,236 that was granted on November 14, 1950).  The PATENT over NO. 2530236 blade has a different tang design compared to the No. 25 production blades.  It is, in fact, a completely different toothpick design.  This is illustrated in a print drawn by Howard S. Schottenberg from May 3, 1951.  Although there are similarities between the toothpick in Schottenberg's 1951 illustration and the toothpick in Erickson's 1948 patent drawing, there is one major difference.  Schottenberg's design features a safety mechanism that locks the toothpick blade in the open position, a feature that was never part of the No. 25 Jet production.  However, the toothpick in Schottenberg's drawing never went into official production (to my knowledge, no original knife has ever been illustrated in the cutlery literature). 

Howard S. Schottenberg’s illustration from May 3, 1951.

As it turns out, the No. 25 Jet design was prone to wearing out over time.  The soft brass liners combined with the cam plunger mechanism caused the No. 25 Jet blades to peek, and eventually the blade would not stay closed at all.  This was an unfortunate time for the Queen Cutlery Company.  Instead of focusing on the production of the new toothpick knife, Queen ended up with a maintenance problem as customers returned their No. 25 Jets for repair.  Given this maintenance problem and the large stock supply of No. 25 Jet parts at the Queen factory, the plan to produce the new Queen toothpick never took off.  Instead, Queen opted to scrap their entire No. 25 toothpick production. 

I would like to thank Mr. Fred Fisher for valuable discussions and for his help to get in contact with retired Queen Master Cutler Fred Sampson, who worked at Queen during the years 1946 to 1982.  I am also indebted to Mr. David Clark for valuable discussions and for providing me with information on early toothpicks. 
Thank you very much gentlemen!

Ahlstrom, U., & Carroll, D. (2013, January). The Safety Locktab Queen. The SharperDeal Newsletter, 4(1), 7-10.

Ahlstrom, U. (2010). Fit for a Queen – The No. 25 Jet. Knife World, 36(1), 1, 5-8.

Friday, December 18, 2015

German catalog and cutlery advertisements

Below is a small sample of mostly old advertisements from the following firms:

A. Feist & Co.   -   Alexander Coppel   -   Anton Wingen   -   Aug. Mandewirth
Böntgen & Sabin   -   C. Duisberg   -   C. Friedr. Ern   -   C. Lütters & Co.   -   C. W. Engels
Carl Herder   -   Carl Jordan Sohn   -   Carl Schlieper   -   Carl Schmidt Sohn   -   Daniel Peres
E. & F. Hörster   -   E. Klophaus   -   E. von den Steinen & Cie.   -   Ed. Wüsthof   -   Ernst Gerling
F. W. Jordan   -   F. W. Klever junior   -   Ferd. Herbertz & Cie.   -   Friedr. Herder Abr. Sohn
Friedrich Clemens   -   Gebr. Gräfrath   -   Gebr. Schmachtenberg   -   Gebrüder Berns
Gebrüder Christians   -   Gebrüder Rauh   -   Gottlieb Hammesfahr   -   Gustav Felix
Gustav Hammesfahr Cie.   -   Gustav Iserloh   -   Gustav Voss   -   Hartkopf & Co.   
Heinrich Kaufmann & Söhne   -   Herm. Konejung   -   J. A. Henckels   -   J. Dirlam & Söhne
Josef Eichel   -   Joseph Feist   -   Karl Mohr   -   Kunde & Sohn   -   Lauterjung and Co.
Linder & Co.   -   Louis Perlmann   -   Marx & Cie.   -   Müller & Schmidt   -   Paul A. Henckels
Richard Abr. Herder   -   Richard Rafflenbeul   -   Robert Klaas   -   Walter Busch Sohn
Wilhelm Weltersbach   -   Ernst Schiffbauer   -   Gebr. Jansen   -    Gust. & Wilh. Stock
Rutenbeck & Lausberg   -   Wiest & Co. -   Clemen & Jung   -   Ed. Carl Müller   
Hüser & Clauberg   -   M. Neumann   -