Cattaraugus Knife Company – A Legacy Vintage Knife Maker

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The Cattaraugus Cutlery Company is an iconic name in the history of American knife-making, with a legacy dating back to the late 19th century. Initially founded as J.B.F Champlin & Sons in Little Valley, New York, the company began importing German cutlery for wholesale in America. In 1886, the business underwent a name change and became known as Cattaraugus, after the county in which it was located.

Today, the company holds a significant place in the annals of knife production and is highly regarded among collectors and enthusiasts alike.

Over the years, Cattaraugus Cutlery Company garnered a reputation for producing high-quality knives, using premium materials and top-notch craftsmanship. From hunting knives to pocket knives, their innovative designs set the standard for many other manufacturers in the industry.

The company was also known to have played a crucial role in meeting the production demands for fixed-blade knives during its collaboration with W.R. Case & Sons and Kinfolks. It is the rich history of Cattaraugus and the timeless appeal of their vintage knives that makes them a fascinating subject for collectors and knife aficionados to this day.

The Founding of Cattaraugus Cutlery Company

J.B.F. Champlin and Early Beginnings

The Cattaraugus Cutlery Company owes its origins to J.B.F. Champlin, who founded the company alongside his son, Tint Champlin, in Little Valley, New York. Initially established in 1882 as J.B.F. Champlin and Son, the enterprise functioned as a jobbing firm. The business first began by importing German cutlery for wholesale in America before changing its name to Cattaraugus Cutlery Company in 1886.

The new name derived from the location of the company, which was in Cattaraugus County. After the name change, they began producing pocket knives soon after. In 1886, Champlin’s brother-in-laws, the four Case Brothers, W.R., John D., Jean, and Andrew, joined the firm, further expanding the Cattaraugus Cutlery Company.

Under the determined leadership of the Champlin family, the Cattaraugus Cutlery Company began investing resources in cutlery manufacturing, utilizing the newly acquired machinery and leveraging the imposed tariffs on imported cutlery products. The company quickly gained a reputation for producing high-quality knives, which further solidified its place in the industry.

Beaver Falls Cutlery Company Connection

A significant event in the early history of the Cattaraugus Cutlery Company was their connection with the Beaver Falls Cutlery Company. When the Beaver Falls Cutlery Company faced financial difficulties, John Brown Francis Champlin, the founder of Cattaraugus Cutlery Co., stepped in and made a strategic move to acquire the machinery and building of the struggling company. This acquisition allowed Cattaraugus Cutlery Co. to expand their manufacturing capabilities even further.

The connection with Beaver Falls Cutlery Company greatly influenced the growth and success of the Cattaraugus Cutlery Company. By securing important assets and a solid foundation in the cutlery industry, Cattaraugus Cutlery Co. was able to better compete against other firms and boost their production in Little Valley, ultimately contributing to the rich history of cutlery manufacturing in Cattaraugus County.

Throughout its existence, the Cattaraugus Cutlery Company continued to make history in the cutlery industry through its dedication to quality, innovation, and craftsmanship. The company remains an iconic name within the realm of vintage knives, and enthusiasts and collectors alike continue to appreciate the legacy of the CCC Co. Little Valley, NY.

Cattaraugus Knife Production

The Cattaraugus Cutlery Company was founded by John Brown Francis Champlin and his son Tint in 1882. Initially a New York distribution company called J.B.F. Champlin and Son, they expanded into knife production when they joined forces with William R. Case and his brothers in 1886. The company was based in Little Valley and grew in prominence due to its innovative knife designs and high-quality craftsmanship.

Notable Knife Patterns and Models

Cattaraugus produced numerous knife patterns, many of which have become highly collectible by knife enthusiasts. One of their most famous knives was the WWII 2250 Commando Knife, an aircrew survival folding machete designed for military use during World War II (source).

Early Cattaraugus TL-29

Another iconic knife produced by Cattaraugus was the TL-29 electricians knife, which featured their innovative liner lock mechanism. Admiral Byrd, a renowned polar explorer, used Cattaraugus knives during his expeditions to the Antarctic, further enhancing the company’s reputation (source).

Cattaraugus also manufactured straight razors, which have become a favorite among vintage razor collectors. The company’s close relationship with KA-BAR knives led to collaborations that combined the strengths of both brands to produce even more exceptional knife designs.

Materials and Construction

Cattaraugus knives were known for their high-quality materials and construction. The company utilized steel imported from Germany in the early days of their production. They purchased cutlery manufacturing equipment from the failed Beaver Falls Cutlery Company in 1890, further improving their in-house manufacturing capabilities.

Handle materials used in Cattaraugus knives varied, with ebony being a popular choice for many models. The company’s use of ebony, combined with their skilled craftsmanship, led to their knives being durable and visually appealing. Tang stamp markings on Cattaraugus knives were an important aspect of their collectability, helping to identify specific models and production timeframes.

In conclusion, Cattaraugus Cutlery Company’s focus on producing innovative and high-quality knives propelled them into the upper echelons of knife manufacturing history. Their notable knife patterns and models, combined with excellent materials and construction, make them a prized possession for collectors and enthusiasts to this day.

Vintage Cattaraugus Knives

Historic Significance and Collectability

The Cattaraugus Cutlery Company has a rich history dating back to its founding in 1886 in Little Valley, New York. Originally established as J.B.F. Champlin & Sons, the company was renamed Cattaraugus after the county in which it was located. The factory on Mill Street became a key player in the cutlery industry, and its historic connection with prominent partners such as W.R. Case adds to its legacy.

Cattaraugus knives are highly sought after by collectors due to their distinct patterns, markings, and quality materials. Vintage Cattaraugus knives feature beautiful handles made from materials like mother-of-pearl and jigged bone, and they often have unique pattern numbers stamped on their blades or bolsters.

Identifying Vintage Cattaraugus Knives

When identifying a vintage Cattaraugus knife, some key features can assist in determining its authenticity and age:

  • Pattern Numbers: Cattaraugus used a specific numbering system, with most of their folding knives having a factory pattern number stamped on them.
  • Tang Stamps: The tang stamp found on the blade of a Cattaraugus knife is another indicator of its authenticity. Look for the words “Cattaraugus,” “Little Valley,” or “New York” on the tang.
  • Materials: As mentioned earlier, vintage Cattaraugus knives are known for their distinctive handle materials, such as mother-of-pearl and jigged bone.
  • Connection with W.R. Case: Cattaraugus had a strong business relationship with W.R. Case, and some vintage knives from the company feature markings or patterns that indicate this association.
  • Notable Models: Some well-known Cattaraugus knife models include the TL-29, a popular electrician’s knife, and other specialty knives such as the Cattaraugus 225Q, which was issued to military personnel during World War II.

In conclusion, vintage Cattaraugus knives hold great historic significance and are highly collectible due to their unique patterns, markings, and quality materials. Their connection with prominent partners, such as W.R. Case, adds to their legacy and makes them even more appealing to collectors. Identifying these knives can be achieved by examining pattern numbers, tang stamps, materials, and notable models to ensure their authenticity and value.

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1 thought on “Cattaraugus Knife Company – A Legacy Vintage Knife Maker”

  1. i have a knife that has 3 C’s as a tang stamp, large c medium c and small c inside of each other, on the back is a padlock with an eye, would this be a cataraugus knife or unknown?

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