all the knife manufacturers in my State, Connecticut?
Sad but true, this State was once a manufacturing Meca. Guns, knives, furniture, clocks, hats, textiles, submarines, etc. were all made here. And it’s not just Connecticut, it’s the United States in general. It’s cheaper to make stuff in other countries, and like the saying goes, you get what you pay for.
Some of the earliest American Manufacturers who specialized in pocket cutlery (on a mass production level) were right here in Connecticut. Many were started by Cutlers from Sheffield, England. Until the 1940’s, Connecticut dominated the pocket knife industry in the U.S. Today, Swiss Army/Victorianox is headquartered here but I don’t think they make the knives here.
This is a list of Connecticut, Ax, Knife and Shear Manufacturers that are no longer in existence. I’m sure there are more. I’ll update the list as I learn more. The dates are as accurate as I could get. (I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I started this!)
How many have you heard of?
Connecticut Knife Companies circa 1800’s -1966
American Knife Co./Plymouth Hollow Knife Co., Thomaston (Plymouth Hollow) CT – c. 1849 – 1911. The company was called “Plymouth Hollow” until 1875. The town’s name change to Thomaston in 1875 in honor of Clock maker, Seth Thomas (Pocket Knives)
American Knife Co., Winsted, CT – c.1919 – 1948 (Not the same company as above) In 1948, the company had changed locations and was now called the Kendal Manufacturing Company. In the same year, it was re-named the Bukar Manufacturing Co. and continued until 1955.
American Shear & Knife Co., Hotchkissville CT – c.1853 – 1914 (Factory burned down in 1914.) First pocket knives they made were in 1870.
B. H. Morse/Waterville Co., Waterbury, CT – c.1857
B.T.CO./Bridgeport Tool Company, New Haven, CT – c.1922
Billings & Spencer, Hartford, CT – c.1900s. This Hartford tool company began making novel and expensive styles of knives. One was an early type of “butterfly” knife.
Birmingham Knife Works, Derby, CT – c.1849 (Pocket knives)
Bradley Lyman, Middlebury, CT – c.1861?* (Pocket knives)
Bridgeport Knife Co./ Bridgeport Hardware Manufacturing Corp., Bridgeport, CT – c.1904.
Bridgeport Tool Co., New Haven, CT – c. 1910 to 1920 (Pequot)
Bristol Knife Co., Bristol, CT – c. 1868 to 1874 (Wrench Knife)
Bronson & Townsend Co., New Haven, CT – c.1923 to 1938 (Pequot)
Bud Brand Cutlery Co., Winsted, CT – c.1922 (Pocket Knives)
Capital Knife Co., Winsted, CT – c.1920s (Pocket Knives)
Challenge Cutlery Corp., Bridgeport & New Britain, CT – c.1891 to 1928 (Wiebusch & Hilger),
Clark R. Shelton, Derby, CT – c.1849 (Pocket knives)
Collins Co., Collinsville and Hartford, CT – c.1826 to 1966 (machetes, axes)
Connecticut Cutlery Co., Naugatuck, CT – c.1867 to 1883 (Pocket Knives)
Cornwall Knife Co., Cornwall, CT – c.1800s
Eagle Knife Co., New Haven, CT – c.1916 to 1919 (Hemming Pat. 10/01/1918)
Empire Knife Co.(Beardsley & Alvord), Winsted, CT (moved to West Winsted, CT in 1880) – c. 1852 to 1930. Empire did a lot of private-brand contracting. Some of the knives they made were Military knives used during W.W.I. The TL-29 Signal Corps Knife is one. They also produced straight razors .
Excelsior Knife Co., Torrington, CT – c.1880 to 1884 (sold to Northfield 1884)
Flylock Knife Co., Bridgeport, CT – c.1918 to 1928 (by Challenge Cutlery)
Frary Cutlery Co., Bridgeport, CT – c.1876 to 1881. This was the most hi-tech knife company of its time. The firm was sold in 1881 and Frary started James D. Frary & Sons, also in Bridgeport. This company was sold in 1884 and was re-named LaBelle Cutlery Works.
George Schrade Knife Co., Bridgeport, CT – c.1929 to 1956 (Presto, Commando, Wire Jack knives)
Geo. W. Miller, Meriden, CT – c.1886 co-owner of Miller Bros.
Griffon Cutlery Works (A. L. Silberstein & Co.) Bridgeport CT
Hatch Cutlery Co., Bridgeport, CT – c.1886 to 1889.
Hemming Bros., New Haven, CT – c.1923 to 1924 (had operated Eagle Knife Co.)
Henry Cowlishaw, Hartford, CT – c.1881 to 1911 (the Pearl)
Holley Manufacturing Co., Lakeville, CT – c.1844 to 1930’s. (handmade/forged pocket knives)
Humason & Beckley Mfg. Co. (H. & B.), New Britain CT – c.1853. Sold to Landers, Frary & Clark in 1912.
H. Wilkinson, Hartford, CT c.1860 – one known example of a Bowie.
Landers, Frary & Clark (“Universal” Brand), New Britain CT – c.1865 to 1965. (Made Bowie style after 1890’s) Makers of late bowie-style hunters in both stag and imitation stag handles popular during the 1st quarter of the 20th century. Was the largest cutlery firm in the world at the turn of the 20th century but did not make pocket knives. From 1914 to the 1930’s, Humason & Beckley (H & B) produced their pocket knives.
Lyman Bradley & Co., Naugatuck, CT– c.1841
Meriden Cutlery Co., Meriden CT – c.1861?*
Miller Bros. Cutlery Co., Yalesville & Wallingford, CT – c.1863 to 1926 (Moved to Meriden in 1872.) Won U.S. Navy contracts to make sailors knives. Also made the TL-29 Signal Corps Knife during W.W.I.
Naugatuck Cutlery Co., Naugatuck, CT – c.1872 to 1888
Northfield Knife Co., Northfield CT – c.1858 to 1929 (made the 1st cast iron handled knives, patented by Samuel Mason in 1862) The Company purchased the American Knife Co. in 1865 & the Excelsior Knife Co. in 1884. Adopted the Trademark, UN-X-LD in 1876. Northfield Knife Co. was sold in 1919 to Clark Brothers Cutlery of Kansas City, Missouri. The name Northfield was no longer used. The company went bankrupt in 1929.
Rawson J. & Sons, (Westville) New Haven, CT – C.1861?*
Rice, Lathrop & Clary, West Winsted, CT – c.1861
Smith & Hopkins, Naugatuck, CT – c.1848
Son Bros. & Co. (Yale), San Francisco CA, (manufactured in Meriden CT)
Southington Cutlery Co., Southington CT – c.1867 to 1914 (Pocket Knives)
Thompson & Gascoigne, Winsted, CT – c. 1852. In 1856, it changed hands and was renamed the Empire Knife Co.
Thomaston Knife Co., Thomaston CT – c.1887 to 1923
Twitchell Brothers, Naugatuck, CT – c.? (Pocket Knives)
Union Knife Co., Naugatuck, CT – c.1851 to 1885. (Pocket Knives)
Waterville Mfg. Co., Waterbury CT – c.1843 to 1913. Grew to be one of the largest U.S. pocketknife producers of the 19th century.
EK Commando Knives, Hamden, CT near lake Whitney – c.1944 to 1949
( Jim Frost of Frost Cutlery, aka Cutlery Corner, is buying the rights to use old knife companies’ names to put on his “made in China” knives.)