Once upon a time the term Case knife or Case knives in the Southern States, referred to that cutlery kept in a wooden case and given as wedding presents or as special presentations. Such cutlery was only used on special occasions when the table was formally laid and everyone had to mind their manners.
All that changed in 1889. That year William, Jean, John and Andrew Case began making knives in New York State and the meaning of the term "Case Knives" slowly changed in public perception so that now it can have two meanings.
W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Company has been around for a very long time, the company was founded by William Case's son John who was a salesman for the firm in about the turn of the last century.
The Case name has always been associated with high quality collectable folding pocket knives and their tang stamps have always reflected this with a dating system and pattern type categorization.
The Company is based in Bradford, Pennsylvania and their reputation for quality has allowed them to survive to this day while other famous brands such as Schrade have sadly withered on the vine.
A Case Collectors Club with over 19,000 members was established in 1981 following the fortuitous suggestion of one Dewey Ferguson a full eight years earlier, to Case President Bob Farquharson. As is apparent from its current membership the club has grown exponentially from its first year's roll call of 426 members, contributing considerably to the Company's success and survivability. Every year the Company hosts a gathering of Club members which must be quite a hoot and well worthwhile for dedicated collectors as it includes a swap meet, mouth watering dinner, auction, factory tour, wood carving tutorial, bubblegum blowing contest, knife making demo, knife appraisals and much more.
The tang stamp numbering system is as follows
The first digit indicates handle material. The second digit denotes the number of blades. The remaining digits indicate the pattern number.
Handle material number codes are as follows
- Black Composite
- Yellow Composite
- White Composite
- Genuine Stag
- Second Cut Stag
- Mother of Pearl
- Imitation Pearl
When they ran out of numbers they started using letters
Handle material letter codes are as follows
B. Imitation Onyx
CI. Cracked Ice
GS. Gold Stone
H. Mottled Brown and Cream Composite
HA. Bathing Beauty
I. Imitation Ivory
R. Red Striped
RM. Red Mottled
Blade Pattern codes are as follows
DR. Bolster drilled for lanyard
EO. Easy Opening
I. Iron Liners
L. Locking Blade
PEN. Pen Blade
R. Bail Handle
SAB. Saber Ground
S. Without Bolsters
SP. Spey Blade
SS. Stainless Steel
SSP. Stainless Steel Polished Edge
T. Tip Bolsters
1/2 Clip Point
3/4 Saber Ground
Tang stamps are as follows
CASE XX TESTED - surrounded by an oval prior to 1915
CASE XX TESTED - surrounded by a circle prior to 1915
CASE XX - prior to 1920
W.R.CASE & SONS CUTLERY CO. BRADFORD, PA. - prior to 1920
W.R.CASE & SONS BRADFORD P.A. - prior to 1920
CASE & SONS BRADFORD PA - prior to 1920
CASE BRADFORD PA. - prior to 1920
CASE'S BRADFORD - prior to 1920
CASESONS BRADFORD, PA. - prior to 1920
STANDARD KNIFE CO. - 1920 to 1923
CASE XX METAL STAMPINGS L.T.D. - 1942 to 1945
CASE XX U.S.A. - 1965 to 1970
CASE XX STAINLESS U.S.A. - 1965 to 1970
And then there are the scripted tang stamps in which the C of the word Case is terminated with an elaborate flourish..but that is a whole other story.