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Knife History

Some of my favorite resources for getting started in exploring the rich history of traditional pocket knives.

Getting Started:

  • Levine's Guide to Knives & their Values by Bernard Levine and Bud Lang
  • The Standard Knife Collector's Guide by Roy Ritchie and Ron Stewart
  • American Pocket Knives A History of Schatt & Morgan and Queen Cutlery By David A. Krauss David's book is an excellent read on one of my favorite old companies. Also, David's intro on knife history is a must read.

 

Fascinating Reads:

The below are all in the public domain

A Man of Samples - Something about the Men He Met "on the Road." by William H. Maher  · 1886

The Cutlery Trades An Historical Essay in the Economics of Small-scale Production by Godfrey Isaac Howard Lloyd · 1913

The Manufacture of Steel Containing the Practice and Principles of Working and Making Steel by Frederick OvermanA. A. Fesquet · 1873

Archaeology dig of the New York Knife Company by the University of the State of New York.  · 1999

This is a fascinating look at the survey and excavation of the grounds of this former powerhouse of a knife company. What was left behind will shock and astonish readers!

The American Cutler - Official Organ of the Cutlery Industry

US Trade mag from the early 1900s targeted to manufacturers, job shops, and retailers. Multiple bound years available.


Catalogs:

One of the best ways to piece together knife history - and maybe even test urban legends.

Hibbard, Spencer, Bartlett and Co - One of the best hardware stores of our great-great grandfather's time! Famed hardware store based in Chicago and originator of the True Value brand. The below catalog PDF links are large downloads.

1891 Catalog

1909 Catalog

 

Web Resources:

Queen Cutlery History
Self-descriptive! This site has many good reads on both Queen and Schatt & Morgan with new content added frequently

Knife Magazine
Support a great magazine and writers. A digital subscription also gets you access to their lengthy magazine and book archive.

Great Eastern Cutlery
The World's best manufacturer of production pocket knives. You can get them from Austin!

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Resources in the Public Domain:

History of the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire Vol. 1 - 1905

History of the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire Vol. 2 - 1906

Knight's Penny Magazine. "A Day at the Sheffield Cutlery Works", United Kingdom, Charles Knight, 1844.

Taylor, John. The illustrated guide to Sheffield and the surrounding district. United Kingdom, Pawson and Brailsford, 1879.

Mechanic Exercises or the The Doctrine of Handy-Works - 1703

On the prevention and treatment of the Sheffield grinders' disease - 1857

Sheffield: Past and Present - 1873

The Sheffield Dialect - 2nd Ed. (1st published in1839)

The Cutlery Trades - An Historical Essay in the Economis of Small-Scale Production - 1913

Coward, Henry. Reminiscences of Henry Coward. London: J. Curwen & sons Ltd, 1919

Unwin, Margaret Joan (2003) The Hallamshire cutlery trades in the late 17th century : a study of the Hearth Tax returns and the records of the Cutlers' Company. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

Beauchamp, Victoria Anne (1997) The workshops of the cutlery industry in Hallamshire 1750-1900 Vol 1. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

Beauchamp, Victoria Anne (1997) The workshops of the cutlery industry in Hallamshire 1750-1900 Vol 2. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

Taylor, Sally-Ann (1988) Tradition and change : the Sheffield cutlery trades 1870-1914 Vol 1. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

Taylor, Sally-Ann (1988) Tradition and change : the Sheffield cutlery trades 1870-1914 Vol 2. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Books:

(Note: I've provided a list of books I've read here. Some may be out of print or difficult to find, but it doesn't make them less interesting!)

Tweedale, Geoffrey. Sheffield Steel and America: A Century of Commercial and Technological Interdependence 1830-1930. 1st ed., Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Tweedale, Geoffrey. The Sheffield Knife Book: A History & Collectors Guide. The Hallamshire Press, 1996.

Tweedale, Geoffrey. Stan Shaw, Master Cutler: The Story of a Sheffield Craftsman. Hallamshire Press, 1993.

Tweedale, Geoffrey. Tweedale’s Directory of Sheffield Cutlery Manufacturers 1740-2013, Revised and Expanded 2nd Edition. 2nd ed., Knife World, 2021.

Turner, C. Sheffield Heritage: Anthology of Photographs and Words of the Cutlery Craftsmen. University of Sheffield & Sheffield Trades Historical Society, 1978.

Housley, Herbert. Back to the Grindstone. The Hallamshire Press, 1998.

Binfield, Clyde, and David Hey. Mesters to Masters: A History of the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire. 1st ed., Oxford University Press, 1997.

Jenkins, Clare, and Stephen McClarence. On the Knife Edge: The inside Story of the Sheffield Cutlery Industry. SCL Publishing, 1989.

Drewry, Mick. Intimidation: The History, The Times And The People Of The Sheffield Outrages. Austin Macauley Publishing, 2017.

Bill Adams (Editor). Sheffield Exhibition Knives. Old World Publishing, Ltd, 1999.