W. R. Case & Sons Cutlery Co.

W. R. Case & Sons Cutlery Co.

company_name = W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Co.
company_type = Private
company_slogan = Hand-Crafted Knives Since 1889
foundation = 1889
location = Bradford, Pennsylvania
key_people =
num_employees = over 350

industry = Pocket Knives
products = Cutlery
homepage = [http://www.wrcase.com/ www.wrcase.com]

W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Company is an American manufacturer of traditional pocketknives, fixed blades/sporting knives, limited edition commemoratives and collectibles. The company originated in Little Valley, New York around the turn of the twentieth century before relocating to its current home, Bradford, Pennsylvania, in 1905. The company's namesake, William Russell Case, first made knives with his brothers under the name, Case Brothers Cutlery Company. His son, John Russell ("Russ") Case, worked as a salesman for his father's company before founding W.R. Case & Sons.


W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Company was created around the turn of the century, at a time when pocketknives were as essential as a watch. Through the years, the company has been recognized as a leader in pioneering new materials and designs in the knife industry.

The company’s roots extend back to 1889, when a few enterprising brothers – William Russell (W.R.), Jean, John and Andrew Case – began selling handcrafted knives from the back of a wagon in the village of Little Valley, a small village in western New York where the company (and its various spinoff companies) were based for several decades. In January 1900, the brothers incorporated to form the first Case family brand, Case Brothers Cutlery Company.

John Russell Case, who named the company after his father, William Russell ("W.R."), formed W.R. Case & Sons as it is known today. By the time the company moved to Bradford, PA in 1905, the four Case brothers had established their family brands as the most respected names in American cutlery.Beginning with World War I, the government has called upon Case to make military knives for U.S. servicemen and women including the USMC's Ka-bar knife and the V-42 combat knife for the Devil's Brigade. During the 1965 flight of the “Molly Brown,” astronauts Gus Grissom and John Young used special Case knives on a NASA space mission. Case has garnered famous admirers and avid collectors such as former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, former racecar driver Richard Petty and country music star Randy Travis.

Today the Case Company is owned by Zippo Manufacturing Company (makers of the world famous Zippo windproof lighter), another family-owned business based in Bradford.

Case co-sponsors a biennial Swap Meet with Zippo Manufacturing Company, where enthusiasts from around the world gather for a weekend in Bradford, Pennsylvania to share their Case knives and Zippo lighters...and the stories behind them. The Swap Meet was cancelled in 2008, but was replaced with the 2008 Collector Appreciation Weekend.

Case knives are made with blades stamped from domestic steel and hardened using proprietary heat treatment methods. Knife handles are shaped by hand, using a variety of natural materials like Brazilian cattle bone, genuine India Stag, Buffalo horn, ancient Mammoth Ivory, Mother-of-Pearl, exotic hardwoods and precious stones. Brass, nickel, and silver metals are used to make the knives' other component parts. Case's backs each knife with a limited warranty which protects against defects in workmanship and materials over the life of the product.

Many people collect Case knives as a hobby. This practice arose from the unique tang stamp dating systems employed by the company beginning in the late 19th century. Today's Case Collectors Club is made up of 18,000 members, making it the largest known organized knife enthusiast group. Club benefits include offers for exclusive, limited knife productions, a quarterly publication entitled The Case Collector, and an open invitation to a “Walk and Talk Tour” of the Case factory.

Case Knife Patterns

The list of Case knife patterns has remained fairly consistent throughout history, although a number of new Case designs have been patented in recent years. Some of these new patterns include: The SlimLock, Tiny Trapper, Baby Doc, CopperLock, RussLock, Baby Butterbean, Cheetah, Cheetah Cub, Hobo, Sod Buster, Mako, Mini-Blackhorn and XX-Changer.

The Hobo

When the Hobo (54HB) is closed, it resembles a regular Trapper. What makes this pattern unique is that once the knife is opened, the handle splits apart revealing a separate knife, fork, spoon and bottle opener. These components can easily be put back together. Case produced two variations of the Hobo ('51 and '52) from the early 1900s-1940. These were made with two to four utensil implements using a can opener, soup spoon, three-prong fork, and knife blade. In 1983, Case re-introduced the Hobo (54) and the first item offered was sold exclusively to Case Collectors Club members.

The CopperLock

In 1997, Case introduced an entirely new knife pattern that took the collector world by storm. Designed by Case Legend Tom Hart, the CopperLock (549L) combined elements from classic Case knife patterns to make an entirely new lockback knife. With a fully locking blade, it has the cutting power of a lockback, with the look and feel of a traditional Case pocketknife. Throughout 2007, Case celebrated the 10th Anniversary of the CopperLock. In July 2008, this pattern will be retired to the Case XX Vault.

The SlimLock

Since its debut in 2005, the SlimLock (73L) has become one of the most beautiful knives ever crafted by W. R. Case & Sons. This pattern is not only one of the most innovative designs in the storied history of our company, but also a fitting tribute to the legacy of our founder, John Russell Case. Each knife carries a unique JRC (John Russell Case) tang stamp and a liner that locks. The first series released included knives featuring BG-42 steel, a high performance American made alloy steel. After the success of the first family, a second family was released in 2006 that featured knives with ladder patterned Damascus blades.

The Cheetah

Although the Cheetah ('11 1/2) pattern has been around since the Case Brothers Era (1896 to 1915), the earliest documentation of the name "Cheetah" being used was in the early 1970s. The Cheetah pattern is one of the most storied of all Case knives. What makes this single-bladed knife so popular is its locking clip blade with the added safety of a swing guard. Throughout its existence, it has been manufactured with and without a swing guard, and with and without a locking mechanism. Some of the more recent knives are stamped with an "L" after the pattern number, which signifies that it has a clip blade that locks when opened. In 2002, afer a 20 year hiatus, Case reintroduced this pattern offering a redesigned and improved knife.

The RussLock

The RussLock (953L) debuted in the 2000 Case Catalog, and was quickly a favorite among collectors. This pattern features a liner lock mechanism, along with a gimped lever for convenient one-hand opening. The liner lock was Case's answer for a high tech knife. Designed by late Case Master Knifemaker Tommy Hart (1930–1999), the sleek body style of the RussLock was inspired by the Jack Knife (028), a pattern that has been retired for over 40 years. The pattern was named after our founder J. Russell "Russ" Case. The pattern number (953L) is a tribute to the year Russ Case passed away.

Case Licensed Knives

Case has also manufactured knives under licenses with American icons like the Coca-Cola Company, Boy Scouts of America, Ducks Unlimited, John Deere, Sturm, Ruger, John Wayne, Johnny Cash and Brooks & Dunn.

teel types

Chrome Vanadium (CV)

Chrome Vanadium is a special formula of alloyed cutlery steel known for its ease of re-sharpening. A quick touch-up will bring back a chrome vanadium blade’s original sharp edge. (Extra care is needed with CV. A thin film of oil should be kept on the blade to maintain the finish of the steel.)

Case Tru-Sharp Surgical Stainless Steel (SS)

Case Tru-Sharp Surgical Stainless Steel is a special high-carbon steel that helps the blades hold an edge longer than conventional steel. It also offers extraordinary blade strength and corrosion resistance.

ATS-34 (ATS-34)

ATS is the brand name for this premium steel. Its reputation for edge retention is second to none among the stainless varieties. It is manufactured with very few impurities, combining three principal elements: carbon, chromium, and molybdenum. Added levels of carbon and chromium enhance the steel's hardness and rust resistance qualities. Re-sharpening can require extra effort.

Damascus (DAM)

Damascus steels date back to the Crusades, and are named for the famous Syrian city where some of the first man-made metals were traded publicly. It consists of thin layers of metal that are heated together to form a laminated solid. Designs take shape as layers are folded in then welded together by forging.

BG42 (BG42)

BG42 is a high performance, domestic alloy steel. It is a bearing-grade composition with added carbon and vanadium giving improved strength and increased edge retention.


154-CM is a high performance American-made stainless alloy known for its sharpness and edge-holding ability. It is manufactured with very few impurities, combining three principal elements: carbon, chromium, and molybdenum. Added levels of carbon and chromium enhance the steels' hardness and rust resistance qualities. Re-sharpening can require extra effort.

Corporation & Industry Awards

W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Company has been fortunate to receive industry awards not only for Case knives, but for creative packaging, web sites, and numerous trade show honors.

1999 Industry Achievement Award

In recognition for the contributions made to the cutlery industry, Case was awarded the Industry Achievement Award at the Blade Show held in Atlanta, GA.

2004 Blade Magazine Investor Collector Knife of the Year

The Case Encyclopedia Set, featuring more than fifty knives showcasing the history of the Case Family Brands was awarded the Blade Magazine Investor Collector Knife of the Year at the Blade Show held in Atlanta, GA.

2006 Best Family Packages / General Superiority According To End-Use Household Awards

Case packaging designs won in two categories at the North American Packaging Competition for Excellence: Best Family Packages and General Superiority According to End-Use Household.

2006 ADDY

The Case website, wrcase.com, won an ADDY award for creative excellence.

2007 Collector's Item

A Case packaging design won the Best of the Show Award at the North American Packaging Competition for Excellence in the Collector's Item category.

2007 Editor's Choice Award

The Case SlimLock won the prestigious Editor's Choice Award from Popular Mechanics Magazine.

Case Collectors Club

In 1972, Dewey Furguson, an avid Case knife collector, wrote to Case President Bob Farquharson about forming a knife collectors association for the W. R. Case & Sons Cutlery Company. Years later, in early 1981, the Case Collectors Club (CCC) was established. A newsletter was introduced in March of that year to formalize communications between Case and its Club members. The first edition of the newsletter was in black and white and had eight pages. During the same year, the first Case Collectors Club Annual Club Knife, an Appaloosa Bone Large Trapper (A6151 SSP), was offered exclusively to Club members.

At the end of the first year, the Club had 426 Charter Members. As the membership numbers grew, Case enriched the Club with more information on the company, its history, the knives, and about the hobby of knife collecting.

Today, there are nearly 18,000 members and the Club has evolved into the World’s Largest Knife Collecting Association.

External links

* [http://www.wrcase.com/ Case Cutlery official website]
* [http://www.wrcase.com/collectors_club/ Case Collectors Club]

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