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I feel your pain.
Part of the excitement - and misery - of collecting Boker knives is the research.
Why is it so easy to find information on knives made by W.R. Case, but not H. Boker?
Well, back in 1970, Case started using tang stamps, dots, and now stars to help the collector. You can look at a Case knife from post 1970 and find out the exact year in which it was manufactured. You just have to know the code.
No such luck with Boker. There were a few years in the late 1980s during which Boker actually etched the year of manufacture on the blade. That didn't last long. The difficulty in following the history is twofold: First, the Solingen, Germany factory was totally destroyed in November/December 1944 during WWII. As the allied forces advanced on Berlin, they also took the opportunity to make certain the cities that were vital to Germany's war effort were destroyed. Thus, there isn't much of a paper trail left for researching the German branch of the TREE BRAND company.
So what's the problem with BOKER USA? Hermann Boker emigrated to New York in 1837 and started H. Boker & Company. They were at first an imported of tools, hardware, steel, and cutlery from European manufacturers. BOKER USA started manufacturing knives in the US about 1899. There were no official ties between the NY and Solingen knife companies, other than family ties and the fact that BOKER USA still continued to import higher end knives from Solingen. Fast forward through WW1, WW2, up until the mid 1960s. A series of corporate buyouts and mergers that lasted from 1965 through 1983 left BOKER USA information a bit tricky to find as well. What happened to the Boker company records? No one seems to know for sure. One of the executives from J. Wiss indicates that when the Cooper Tool Group ceased manufacture of Boker knives in the US, they donated the records to a library in "South Carolina". However, Cooper's headquarters were in Apex, NORTH Carolina. The actual knife production had been moved to Statesboro, GEORGIA by Cooper. Confused yet? Now you know how I feel.
So what are we Boker fans to do? Well, I'll tell ya Skippy...
With a LOT of research, you can look at various combinations of tang stamps, blade etches, shields, and patterns. That might get you within a span of a couple of decades.
But where can we research? Thus far, the definitive HISTORY OF BOKER book has not been written.
You can find bits and pieces of Boker history lying around all over. Here are a couple of options:
Number one is: Beg, borrow, or steal a copy of MARK ZALESKY'S article in KNIFE WORLD
You can find a copy of this article on Boker's website: HERE
J.Wiss and Sons Here you can download pdf catalogs from the 1970s.
Now study on this stuff a while and you can be the BOKER expert in your neighborhood. You may be able to pick up a nice antique knife for a low price also! Study hard, there will be a test.
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