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The History of W. R. Case & Sons and Related Companies
W. R. Case & Sons Stampings
During the long history of W. R. Case & Sons, there have been more than three- dozen different stamps used on knives.
The “W. R” tang stamp was used from 1905-1915
The “Bradford” tang stamp was used from 1915-1920
The “Case XX” stamping on pocketknives was used from 1940 to 1965 with pattern numbers added to the reverse side of the tang in 1949.
In 1965, the company began stamping its knives “Case XX U.S.A.” In 1970; the logo was again changed, this time to “Case XX U.S.A.” but with ten dots under the logo.
Each year after that, a dot was removed so that a 1975 knife would have five dots and a 1979 knife would have one dot.
In 1980, the stamping was again changed.
The dotting system, beginning with ten dots, was renewed, but the name stamp was modified to what was to become known as “the Lightning S’, the “S” in the company name was no longer curved and resembled a lightning bolt.
In 1990, the system of dots was stopped and the year of manufacture was stamped onto the knife tangs.
The system was revived in 1993 and continues today in similar form.
Under the present “X’s and Dots” system, one dot was removed after each year from 2000 to 2004, and one “X’ was removed after each year from 2005 to 2009.
On the occasion of some of these logo changes, there were a large number of collectors who bought store displays of the old logo knives.
Some of these displays can still be found intact, but individual knives that have been on those boards usually fade on one side and do not bring as much as knives of the same stamping that were not on a board.
With each logo change there were some knives, such as the 6488 and the 64052, which had two blades stamped with the Case logo.
Sometimes one blade with the old logo and one blade with the new logo were used in the same knife.
These knives with transitory markings can be found in XX to USA, USA to ten dots, and in various combinations of dots, with eight to ten dots being the most common for the 6488.
The knife in question would be considered a USA, XX, ten dot, etc. by the tang stamping on the master blade. The large blade attached closest to the shield.
The collector should be aware that minor variations in many of these stampings are not so unusual.
Whenever a worn-out or broken die was replaced, the replacement die was occasionally not identical to its predecessor.
One may see this variation on some Tested XX knives. For instance, the top point of the large “C’ often varies in its relative position with the top of the “a’.
Most knife collectors chose to ignore these small variations as being relatively insignificant as regarding the collector value.
Case Price Guide
“W.R.” and “Bradford” knives are rare; very few of these knives with this stampings will be encountered, so it is hard to develop a reliable price structure on them.
On most patterns, a “W.R. or “Bradford” stamped knife will bring 20-30% more that the same pattern with a “Case Tested” stamping.
Tested Knives - all Tested knives are priced as thought they are handled in green bone since that is true for approximately 90% of this era’s patterns with a bone handle code.
The remaining small percentage is handled in red bone, brown bone, and rough black.
While red bone and brown bone handled knives will sell for only slightly less than green bone, rough black handled knives will generally be valued at 20-30% below green bone Tested knives.
XX Knives - Many collectors prefer the XX era above all others, and with the high quality and the wide variety of handled materials used it’s easy to understand why.
Among bone handles, beautiful red bone stands out, but green bone, early Rogers bone, and late Rogers bone can all be found and each will bring a premium.
Red stag can be found in additional to regular stag, and will bring a good deal more. Both standard yellow composition and “flat yellow” composition can be found on XX knives.
Standard yellow is slightly translucent, while flat yellow is opaque.
Flat yellow will usually bring a slight premium of no more than 10%. XX era knives with a long pull nicks will generally bring about 5-10% more than the same knives with regular nail nicks.
USA Knives - Some very attractive knives were made during the USA era and interest in the knives of this period is currently very strong.
1970s Dots Knives – Many changes came to W.R. Case & Sons during this era and the evidence is written all over the knives they produced.
A ten-dot 1970 knife will almost command a higher collector value than any other dots knives, and knives from the first few years of the era will usually bring a little more than those from the end of the era.
Knives with especially attractive bone handles are in particular demand, and will often bring 20% more.
Delrin handled knives of this era are usually worth little more than there “using” value, except in the case of a popular pattern in which the rarity of a particular Delrin handled knife has long been established.
“Rogers Bone” handled knives – Occasionally a knife will be encountered with bone handles jigged in a style that seems unusual for a Case knife.
On the pre-1920 W.R.” and “Bradford” marked knives, collectors will sometimes encounter bone handles jigged with short, and deep cuts in what appears to be a random pattern.
These handles, which were probably jigged by hand, represent the first generation of “Rogers Bone” on Case knives.
Tested and XX era “Rogers Bone” is completely different, a machine jigged pattern with shallower, longer jigs that do not line up into discernable rows as much of Case’s jigging does.
Named after the Rogers Manufacturing Company of Rockfall, Connecticut, which produced it.
This was a standard style of bone handle common throughout the knife industry from the 1930s to the 1960s.
Often encountered on knives by Camillus, Kutmaster, and Western, on Case knives it is considered rare and desirable.
A good rule of thumb is to add a premium of about 20-20% over a tested green bone or a standard XX bone. Rogers Bone handles were revived on several patterns in 1989.
Linings on Case Knives
Case use iron liners until the late 1920s, when a change was made to nickel silver.
At times, the company would substitute brass for nickel silver.
The exception to this note of interest is the 6143 pattern “Daddy Barlow”, which was lined with iron until 1973, when the pattern was changed to Delrin handles with brass lines.
Case’s knife numbering system offers the collector quite a bit of information about a knife, allowing one to determine whether the knife has the proper handle, number of blades, etc.
These pattern numbers can only be relied upon on Case knives made after 1949. When the pattern numbers were stamped on each knife produced.
A Case pattern number usually consists of four digits.
The first indicates the handle material, the second digit represents the number of blades and the last two digits are the factory pattern numbers.
A one or two between the second and third digits, or a zero before the first digit, represent a variation of an existing pattern.
The First Digit
The handle material numbers and letters are listed, an “*’ will be use to show a handle material found only on Case Tested XX knives (1920-1940).
2- Black Composition
3- Yellow Composition
4- White Composition
5- Genuine Stag
6- Bone & Delrin
7- *Tortoiseshell Celluloid
8- Genuine Mother-of-Pearl
9- Imitation Pearl
A. - Appaloosa Smooth Bone
B. - * Imitation Onyx
CI - Cracked Ice
CT - Christmas Tree Celluloid
G - * Green & Red Metal Flake
GS - Gold Stone
H -* Mottled Brown & Cream Composition
HA – A bathing beauty under clear celluloid
I – Imitation Ivory
M – Metal
P – Pakkawood in brown or black colors
ROG – Rogers
S – Silver
SR – Smooth Rose Bone
SG – Smooth Green Bone
R – Red Striped Celluloid
RM – Red Mottled
W - *Wire
Since Case has used to many different handle materials, the following is additional information on the materials, their origin and usage.
In recent years, Case has offered a dizzying array of handle materials and colors to an eager collecting public.
Appaloosa is smooth mottled brown bone first used in 1979.
Black Composite often called ‘slick black”, has a smooth texture and usually glossy appearance. Its use began before 1940.
Bone also known as Bone Stag, comes from the shin of a cow and at one time almost every knife manufacturer used this material to handle its knives.
With much of the bone used on knives coming from South America, it has become more difficult to get and shortages sometimes cause Case to resort to Delrin.
Celluloid based materials have often been impregnated with colors and metal flakes, offering unusual handle designs.
Called by such names as Candy Stripe, Christmas Tree, Goldstone, and Metal Flake, these and other celluloid materials were used on Case Tested and earlier knives.
Delrin is a man-made material first used by Case in 1967. It looks much like genuine bone.
Since 1974, the shield of a genuine bone handled knife will have a circle around the word “CASE” on the shield, while a Delrin or laminated wood handle will not have a circle.
Prior to 1974, all shields had the circle around the name.
Genuine Mother-of-Pearl comes from the shell of an oyster.
Due to shortages of this material, Case has significantly curtailed production of pearl handled knives except for special issue.
The first cutback came in 1967, and the company’s 1968 catalog listed no pearl handled knives.
In 1970, it again made the 8261, 82791/2, 82053SC SS, and 8364SC SS patterns, only to again discontinue all pearl handled knives except 820791/2 in 1975.
Genuine Stag from India’s Sambar and Chital deer has been used since Case’s earliest days.
It was temporarily discontinued in 1971 due to the availability issue, and has been available off and on ever since.
Green Bone is bone stag with a deep green or brown green tint. It was quite commonly used on Tested knives and is found on the older XX knives.
Used between 1940 and 1955, knives handled with green bone are now one of the more desirable Case collections.
High Art is a handle type similar to those made famous by Canton Cutlery Company, Aerial Cutlery Company, and others.
If features a photo under a transparent plastic cover and is found on a few extremely old Case knives and on a 1980 limited knife, the HA199 1/2.
Imitation Pearl is produced in several variations with the more usual one having a flaked appearance, popularly known as “Cracked Ice”.
Red and Green Bone in a different shade has been used on some special Case contract knives and regular production in recent years.
Red Bone in its true form is found only on XX or Tested knives and its color was probably caused by a particular dye that Case was using at the time.
A true red bone should have the front handle the same tint as the back handle.
Knives that have been displayed in sunlight sometimes fade to a red color, but one that is usually dull and does not match the backbone.
This isn’t true red bone. Some USA and Dot knives have red handles that would be true red bone if they were on a Case XX.
These knives are valued slightly higher than knives of the same pattern handled with regular bone.
Red Stag is genuine stag with a reddish cast, usually found on Tested and XX are case knives. It was also used in some limited production knives during the late 1900s.
Rough Black was used as a substitute for bone stag during and shortly after World War II. Called Plastag by W. R. Case &Sons, it has a rubber like base and has no set pattern of jigging.
Second Cut Stag is made from the remaining antler after the stag slabs have been removed for use as genuine stag. Jigged, as is bone, it can be found on knives stamped both “5” and “6”.
This type of handle has usually been used on patterns 5254, 6254, 5375, 6375, 6488, and 5488, hence some occasional misrepresentation of handle material and pattern numbers among knife traders.
Smooth Bone is a bone handle that is not jigged. These have been dyed in many different colors over the years, including Appaloosa, Smooth Rose, and Smooth Green.
Walnut has been used on Case knives since 1920.
Walnut Composition was discontinued in about 1974. It is white in color but in texture the same as slick black composition.
Yellow Composition may be seen in three variations.
Regular yellow composition is translucent and can be found in two styles, one with a white line around its outer edge and one without.
Flat yellow composition is completely opaque and has no white liner.
The Second Digit
The second digit of the Case pattern numbers indicates the number of blades.
W. R. Case & Sons made a few patterns with five blades in the Tested XX and Bradford days but, since that time, have primarily made one, two, three, and four blade knives.
Factory Design Numbers
The remaining digits of a Case pattern number denote the factory designation for that handle pattern.
A “0” as the first digit denotes a variation from an existing pattern.
For example, a 06247 is a two-blade variation of the 6347 pattern.
A few Case knives omit the handle material and blade number digits, leaving only the factory pattern number. An example is the 6225 ½ stamped 25 ½.
Abbreviations in Pattern Numbers
After many pattern numbers, there are abbreviations for the various blades or a description of the knife.
D – Damascus steel blades (starting 1989)]
DR – Drilled through bolster for lanyard
EO – East open notch in handle
F – File blade
HP – Sheepfoot and pen blades
I – Iron liners
L – Blade locks open
P – Punch blade
PEN – Pen blade
R – Bail in handle
RAZ – One arm man blade or razor blade
SAB – Saber ground master blade
SH – Sheepfoot blade
S or SHAD – indicates no bolsters
SC or SCIS – indicates scissors
SP – Spey blade
SS – Stainless steel blades and springs
SSP – Stainless steel blades and springs, polished edge
T – Tip bolster
½ - Clip master blade
¼ - Saber ground blade
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