Collectors of vintage knives cherish the opportunity to scrutinize old cutlery catalogs when given the opportunity. Many times, a catalog gives details about a particular knife and helps to date and/or even authenticate a knife that one wants to learn more about. It can tell you the various options and variations of a knife and can settle many a dispute over just when a specific pattern first emerged. Did it come in stag, could you get a wharncliff blade, what was the length closed, what was the pattern number and a multitude of other facts and tidbits of information.
In 2010, a copy of the oldest known American made cutlery catalog was discovered sitting quietly in a museum in Maryland. This catalog from the famed Northfield Knife Company, dates back to 1869 and is a plethora of information regarding the wares of this early American firm. It remains unknown to this day which American cutlery was first to use this marketing tool.
No matter who was first, it’s obvious that these were useful instruments to the cutlery companies that had them printed and even more useful to those of us today that scourer them over at every opportunity to find little [click to continue…]
THE HAFTER, who takes care that both ends of the knives are rounded, fine-glazed, and blended into the linings, might raise his eyebrows if someone told him he was a member of the company’s sales department. But that’s what he is, like the men in the front office who do direct selling.
Good appearance in a knife catches the customer’s eye and helps make the sale. High quality put into blades and assembly gives assurance that the customer will stay satisfied. It is the work of all the departments, together, that builds the reputation of Camillus merchandise. In other words, when a cutler makes a knife “walk and talk,” he is providing talking points for the salesmen.
The fact is, in any manufacturing business every worker is a co-worker – on one and the same job. The job is to produce the best possible goods in competition for the sales volume needed to run the plant. Here price also enters and emphasizes the reason for operating with economy.
Actually the division of a company into departments is [click to continue…]
A handwritten note written by Mary Ellis Maxwell, the author of Among the Hills of Camillus had the following sentence that peaked my curiosity. “Previously a cutler did about all the work on a knife and when a cutler like Mr. Primrose finished a knife, it was certainly a nice job.”
Obviously Mr. Sherwood recognized and admired Mr. Primrose’s ability and workmanship to make mention of him solely when so many skilled craftsman held positions within the Camillus Cutlery operation. It is common knowledge that a majority of the workforce were trained cutlers from England and even some from Germany. However, it is the mere mention of something or someone in an instance like this, that arouses my investigative senses and sends me off on a quest to learn more.
Common knowledge among collectors of vintage cutlery gets past on in many forms. Unfortunately, few ever question the authenticity of comments and take it as the gospel. I was taught many years ago that primary sources of information were the only creditable ones and that anything thereafter had to be viewed and considered with caution. So with that in mind, let’s look at the facts as we know them and learn a little more about Edward Primrose, cutler extraordinaire.
Edward was born in England in 1855. As a young man, he worked for [click to continue…]
Those familiar with the basic history of our beloved Camillus Cutlery have some idea who Charles E. Sherwood was and the role he played in its creation. But as we have learned, there is always more to a story than what traditionally gets told. C. E. Sherwood was a town son and his family had a long and esteemed history dating as far back as 1826, when his father Gaylord N. Sherwood moved to the community of Camillus and established various businesses.
The family had extensive entrepreneurial experience, garnered many good business acquaintances as they prospered and had dealings throughout New York State and beyond. The tariff laws, that seemed very favorable to American manufactured goods, enticed the Sherwood family to invest in this new venture of knife production and brought it to their hometown. In 1894, the local newspaper wrote that the newly created business was a “boom” to the community, although initially it only had six employees.
What few seem to remember today is that [click to continue…]
Some call it a sickness! I prefer to call it an obsession. What I am speaking of is that inevitable evolution that happens to the average knife collector as he or she journeys from novice accumulator to collector extraordinaire. How we all started on this journey to self proclaimed knife aficionado varies widely, but ultimately it seems to end up in a similar form; the so-called dreaded curse that our families refer to as “knife fever”.
It may have been a knife given as a gift to you as a youngster or maybe it was your admiration of an Uncle or Grandfather’s collection of old hunting knives that one day enticed you to follow the calling of the blade. You decided consciously or possibly subconsciously, that you might enjoy having more than just one, and the addiction started. Just ask your wife or best friend that doesn’t part take in your knife collecting passion, and I am sure you will hear [click to continue…]