Short History of USA made Schrade Knives

Many knife collectors know the history of Schrade Cutlery Company. Schrade Cutlery Company in Walden New Your was established in 1904. Schrade Cutlery Company had its roots in the New York Press Button Knife Company, formed in 1892 by George Schrade, an inventor from Sheffield, England. Unable to raise sufficient capital to begin knife production, Schrade sold a partial interest in the company to the Walden Knife Company. The company's unusual name arose from its first knife design, a switchblade or automatic-opening pocket knife with an operating button mounted in the knife bolster. First patented by Schrade in 1892, the knife was eventually produced with a unique style of clip point blade. In 1903, Schrade sold all of his interest in the New York Press Button Knife Co. to Walden Knife Company.

In 1906-07, Schrade patented the Safety Pushbutton Knives, an improved series of switchblade knives with side-mounted operating button and a sliding safety switch. Later developed in slightly modified form as the Presto series, the Schrade switchblade would come to dominate the automatic knife market in the United States for the next fifty-five years. In the 1920s, Schrade bought the defunct Walden Cutlery Company in order to obtain their stocks of handle material for his knives.

From 1911-1916, George Schrade resided in the knifemaking center of Solingen, Germany, where he ran a small workshop. There Schrade developed a new type of switchblade knife, which he titled the Springer. However, in 1916 the German government seized all of Schrade's assets in Germany to assist its war production. Schrade returned to the United States, though his Springer switchblade would live on; now unprotected by patent, the type was manufactured by several Solingen shops for many years thereafter.

In 1917, Schrade licensed a flylock switchblade design to the Challenge Cutlery Company, which he then joined. Schrade pursued his knifemaking interests at both Challenge and at Schrade, where his brother George now managed one of the company's factories. In the 1920s, Schrade bought the defunct Walden Cutlery Company in order to obtain their stocks of handle material for his knives.

In 1928, the Challenge Cutlery Co. closed after the death of its owner, Charles F. Wiebusch. Schrade formed a new company, the Geo. Schrade Knife Co. in Bridgeport, acquiring knifemaking machinery from the old Challenge Cutlery assets. At the new company Schrade made Presto switchblades as well as Wire Jack jackknives, and other low-end pocket knives. George Schrade died in 1940 (According to;[8] George Schrade died in 1945), and the Geo. Schrade Knife Co. was sold by his sons in 1956 to Boker Knife Co. of Newark, New Jersey, but the company closed operations in 1958 after Congress passed a law banning the sale of switchblades across state lines. Schrade's other company, the Schrade Cutlery Co., was sold in 1946 to the Imperial Knife Associated Companies, becoming the Schrade-Walden Cutlery Co., Inc.

In 1946 Albert M. Baer purchased Schrade Cutlery Company from C. Louis Schrade and renamed it the Schrade Walden Cutlery Corporation, a division of the Imperial Knife Associated Companies group.  The Schrade-Walden division was moved from Walden, New York, to Ellenville, New York, after a fire consumed the factory in 1958, though the two companies would maintain separate manufacturing facilities. Imperial Knife had positive economic growth up to the late 1970s, but as the conglomerate entered the 1980s, a consolidation took place and the company divested itself of various holdings in order to streamline management.

In 1983, Albert M. Baer took the company private to ward off hostile investors by purchasing all outstanding stock in the company. The company changed names in 1985 to Imperial Schrade Corp. and Walter Gardiner was named President and COO. All U.S. operations were combined under one roof in Ellenville. In the 1990s, the company entered the multi-tool market and the Baers were both inducted into the Blade Magazine Cutlery Hall of Fame.

Old Timer 152 OT

USA made Old Timer and Uncle Henry Knives remain as popular today as ever. However, in 2004, the 100th anniversary year of Schrade, the Ellenville, New York facility was closed. Later the patent rights and Schrade name were sold to an international cutlery company and Old Timer and Uncle Henry knives were started being produced in China. The end of production of the classic Schade knives in the USA was not the only change to the brand.

Old Timer knives, with few exceptions, were made with Carbon Steel blades. The current production of these knives in China are made with stainless steel blades. Loyal fans of the Old Timer Carbon Steel fondly recall the ease of returning their favorite knife to a razor sharp edge. Of course the superiour blade sharpening and edge retention ability of the USA made Carbon Steel blades has kept the USA made Old Timer knives in high demand.

Hunters still strongly prefer the Old Timer 152OT Sharpfinger for field dressing and skinning chores. Everyday carry pocket knives like the Old Timer 34OT Middleman remain the most popular choice for many. These knives are becoming harder to find all the time. We at Fox Quality Knives are always buying these for our customers so we are fully aware of how hard it is to find good pieces at fair prices.

Old Timer 34OT

Other fine makers do still use Carbon Steel to produce knives. W.R. Case & Son's is one maker still making knives in the USA with Carbon Steel blades. And rumor has it that the current maker of Old Timer and Uncle Henry Knives is considering a return to production of the carbon steel blade knives back in the USA.

 CA 204

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