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This was an unscripted freeform chat hosted by Derek Smith And Mike Locisso

I had thought about extracting just the info about the knives but the chat was really so much fun...I just left it thisway

We are happy to see you :)

Derek Smith
Hello everybody and thanks for dropping by. By way of introduction, my name is Derek Smith and I live in Salt Lake City. I'm very pleased to be here with you tonight.
My partner Mike Losicco is online with us tonight as well. Hello Mike!

Me
Thanks to both of yuo

Derek Smith
This will be a very informal chat, I will start with a little history and background information, then open things up for any questions you may have.

Michael A Losicco
Hi all, this is Mike Losicco and glad to be here

Derek Smith
Anyone else want to say hi before we start?

Sue OldsWidow
hi

Me
LOL

Derek Smith
Hello Sue!
OK, here we go<...
JBF Champlin is most well known for starting up Cattaraugus Cutlery back around 1886.
Before any discussion about the Champlin family can truly begin, we must first have a road map of sorts to guide us through several generations of Champlin men who have shared those famous and sometimes confusing initials, J. B. F..
There have been 7 men with those same initials in the Champlin family, so it's easy to get confused.
Our main character in the story of Cattaraugus Cutlery is of course John Brown Francis Champlin. He was born on July 17th, 1841 in the tiny village of Napoli, Cattaraugus County, New York. For much of his life he went by John B.F. Champlin. He's the guy you see on all the old Cattaraugus billheads
He's the guy with the wiskers. I will refer to him as JBF. All the others will be referred to by their family nick names, which are listed as follows:
Johnny B was JBF's father. Born 1807 in Rhode Island as John Browning Francis Champlin. He was JBF's father and the first Champlin man to have the initials J.B.F.C.
How we doing so far? Have I put anyone to sleep yet?

Me
no way

Ron"TUNA"Dumeah
NO

Gus Marsh
Not yet !

Sue OldsWidow
nope

Derek Smith
OK, we'll keep going:
JBF Born 1841 as John Brown Francis Champlin. He was known as John B. F. Champlin for much of his life. He was the main organizing force and first President of Cattaraugus Cutlery. He often signed his name simply as JBF or "Champ". I will refer to him as JBF whenever possible.
Tint Champlin, Born in 1866 , he also was named John Brown Francis Champlin. However, at an early age, the family started calling him "Tint" and the nick name stuck.
Later in life he officially changed his name to Tint so he could sign checks and legal documents using the name that he was commonly known by. As the son of JBF he was to become the second Champlin man at the helm of Cattaraugus Cutlery.
20:08

Derek Smith
Tint had 2 sons and one daughter, all three were associated with the Cutlery. His oldest was called Uncle Frannie. He was born in 1892 as J. B. Francis Champlin (John Brown Francis). Same initials as his forefathers.
He was known as Frannie or Francis for most of his life. To many, especially in the business world, he was also known as "J.B.F. Champlin" or "J.B.F. Champlin II". He was third President of Cattaraugus Cutlery. He and his brother P. T. Champlin (Phillip Tint) later ran the the family business
20:11

Derek Smith
Uncle Frannie did not have any biological children, but he and his wife adopted 2.
20:13

Derek Smith
This is where it gets confusing,... Since Uncle Frannie didn't have any natural children it was decided that his brother PT would carry on the family tradition and he named his second son Jerry B. Francis Champlin. (JBFC # 5) Jerry was my father in law.
Have I lost anybody?

Sue OldsWidow
nope

Me
nope

Gus Marsh
I have my flashlight.

Sue OldsWidow
hahah

Derek Smith
Gus, you may need to share,...
I only knew my father in law for a year or so, he died of cancer at an early age.
So, back to the cutlery story, when we say JBF, we mean the guy with the whiskers who was married to a Case, who started Cattaraugus Cutlery.
OK, before we move on, does anyone have a question?
20:19

Sue OldsWidow
debbie?

Gus Marsh
:-D----------:-D----------:-D----------:-D-----------:-D-----------:-D
Here is my light

Derek Smith
Debbie Case? I'm going from memory, but isn't she the Case woman who worked in the Cattaraugus office and married a Platt?

Sue OldsWidow
could be I am getting confused with my case ladies....lol

Gus Marsh
In the Cattaraugus office was Debbie Case, who lived with her brother, Russ, and their father W. R. Case. In 1892, H. N. Platts and Debbie Case were married and, within a couple of years, they had become parents of two sons, Harlow and Reginald.

Derek Smith
JBF was Married to Theresa Mary Case, who had 4 soon to be famous brothers. I think Debbie was a niece.
Gus, I'm glad someone has a book open!

Sue OldsWidow
oh i forgot mother theresa
lol

Gus Marsh
Charles Platts, still a respected cutlery leader, and his other sons reentered the picture when they moved from Northfield to Little Valley in 1893 and began work with Cattaraugus.

Derek Smith
OK, before Cattaraugus, JBF Champlin was a succesful salesman for Friedmann & laughtejung
He worked on the road for 16 1/2 years.

Gus Marsh
Lauterjung

Derek Smith
I can hardly say it let alone spell it quickly!

Gus Marsh
LOL
20:26

Gus Marsh
Cattaraugus founder John Brown Francis Champlin first became associated with cutlery at the age of twenty-five, when he became a cutlery salesman for importers Friedmann and Lauterjung.
20:27

Derek Smith
JBF sold cutlery and silver plate. He made enough to retire by time he was 40, but chose to start his own jobbing firm instead. He had struggled to find financial opportunity as a young man in rural NY, and wanted to provide a chance for employment for the young men of the area.
20:28

Derek Smith
All of the companies that JBF had been associated with up to this time all made first class goods. It was only natural that he would do the same.
20:29

Derek Smith
His jobbing firm soon grew and became Cattaraugus Cutlery. He only sold Champlin knives for a few years. Tracking down Champlin knives is mostly fruitless work. Not many of them out there.
Anyone have a question at this point?

Me
Im good

Sue OldsWidow
me too

Gus Marsh
I picked up a nice Cattaraugus Cleaver in the swap meet last Saturday, the lady selling it had no idea who Cattaraugus was.

Derek Smith
Way to go Gus!

Gus Marsh
It happens once in a while, most of the time people selling knives know the real value.
20:35

Derek Smith
My father and mother in law were really into family Genealogy back in the early 70s. They did a ton of meticulas research and put it all into a family book. I was looking through the book many years later and read all these cool things about this guy named JBF. That's what got me started
20:36

Gus Marsh
I fly to SLC every year to do genealogy research, I am working on my third book.

Derek Smith
Gus, pray tell?!?!?

Gus Marsh
My first book was on my maternal family, taking them back to 1525 in Norway.

Derek Smith
Where do you hail from?

Gus Marsh
My second book is on my Uncle William Marsh 1921-1945 when he died in World War II
I was born in Northern Minnesota, just 30 miles from Canada.

Derek Smith
Ancestry.com is a great resource for tracking down family members and others related to the cutlery trade.

Gus Marsh
I currently live in Huntington Beach, CA, 12 blocks from the Pacific Ocean.
I use FamilySearch a lot also.

Derek Smith
Hmmmm Northern Minnesota,... Huntington Beach. Good choice.
20:41

Me
Was it JBF that bought the Beaver Falls Plant?

Derek Smith
I have not used familysearch, I will look into it. It's amazing what you can find. I wrote an article for next months Knife World on JBF Champlin & George W. Korn. I found tons of data on Korn using Ancestry.com

Sue OldsWidow
i am currently interested in times that cattaragus did jobbing for Case knives

Gus Marsh
It's familysearch.org
20:43

Derek Smith
Jan,.. Yes, JBF did buy the equipment from the defunct Beaver Falls to start up his own manufacturing plant. The foreman and some of the workers from Beaver Falls moved to Little Valley, NY to work for Cattaraugus

Michael A Losicco
Sue are you saying Cattaraugus made knives for Case??

Sue OldsWidow
yes

Michael A Losicco
Derek do you have anything on that?

Derek Smith
Sue, I wish I was more qualified to discuss that, but it's beyond my expertise

Sue OldsWidow
np

Derek Smith
I know they made knives for Remington from time to time

Sue OldsWidow
i think it evolves around the fires of the plants
< still working on it...lol

Derek Smith
Yes, I know that when the Kinfolks plant burned (that was later) that Cattaraugus let Kinfolks use the Catt factory after hours to fill their orders.

Gus Marsh
The relatives were W.R. Jean, John and Andrew, sons of Job Russell Case and brothers of Champlin’s wife, Theresa.
When the Case brothers entered into the business, its name was changed to Cattaraugus Cutlery Company.
Although the case brothers soon dropped out of the new business, it was the beginning of the longtime association of the Case family with cutlery.
20:47

Gus Marsh
Cattaraugus made knives for the U.S. Armed Forces and the Byrd Polar Expedition and, in promotional efforts, sponsored whittling competitions, offering up to $50,000 in prizes.

Derek Smith
Yes, the Case Brothers actually worked as salesmen for the jobbing firm of JBF Champlin before it was changed to JBF Champlin & Son and again to Cattaraugus
Cutlery
20:49

Derek Smith
The depression was murder for the cutlery. They came up with the whittling competition in an effort to stimulate sales. Some of the winning pieces are still around

Me
Thats cool

Gus Marsh
The depression was hard on everyone, including my dad.
My dad joined the CCC's in 1936-1938
He made $30.00 a month and had to send home $25.00 to his mother.

Me
Hard to buy a knife in that economy

Derek Smith
Yes, the depression was hard on the whole planet. Your dad was part of Cattarugus Cutlery Company or do the CCCs mean something else?

Gus Marsh
CCC was Civilian Conservation Corps.

Michael A Losicco
Civilian Conservation Corps

Derek Smith
Ahhhh, thanks mike

Michael A Losicco
My Dad helped suport his 11 brothers and sisiters that way
Derek how old was tint when he joined JBF?

Derek Smith
When Tint turned 15 he came to work full time with his father and 4 Case uncles.
20:56

Gus Marsh
There was also the WPA or Works Progress Admin.

Michael A Losicco
Derek can you talk about the old Opera House a bit?

Derek Smith
OK guys and girls, how we doin? Have we covered enough history?

Gus Marsh
just scratched the surface

Sue OldsWidow
yes....for now....thanks so much....need Catt II

Michael A Losicco
What is Catt II

Gus Marsh
Cattaraugus II by A.J. Russell ?

Sue OldsWidow
part 2 .....

Derek Smith
The Opera House? JBF was a fellow ahead of his time. He built the 3 story opera house partly to have a place to entertain folks, but also to house his growing business. He was a very spiritual fellow, but not associated with any particular creed. He made the top story of the opera house available
21:01

Derek Smith
available free of charge for any religious groups or events. He was really into nature

Me
what was the name of the Opera House? Or did they just call it the Opera House

Derek Smith
It was called the Opera House.

Michael A Losicco
a few weeks ago when Donna and I were in LV we stopped and tried to see it still there!!! Too bad it's gone

Me
II was just ging to ask if it is still there

Michael A Losicco
I had my post card showing it in 1909 and was trying to imagine it, thats what I meant
I love going to LV and seeing the Cutlery even though it is in bad shape

Me
So what brought the two of you to this point, bringing back the name is fantastic. I cant beleive someone had not bought it

Derek Smith
Sue,.. Cattaraugus was doing poorly in the late 50s and early 60s. They were going out of business. There was some talk with 3 business men from Buffalo who wanted to buy the cutlery, but they were poorly funded and had little to offer. The family decided the name alone was worth more than,...
21:05

Derek Smith
More than what they were offering, so they decided to close the plant, sell the equipment and pay off the debt. They did not pay enough attention to the trade mark.
21:06

Michael A Losicco
Derek and I have been friends collecting history and cutlery items foir years and thought what the heck lets give this a shot, doesn't everyone want to own a cutlery???

Derek Smith
A trade mark has to be renewed from time to time otherwise it becomes available to other people. AG Russell noticed some years later that the trade mark had not been renewed so he went about registering it for his own use.

Michael A Losicco
To see JBF's name on knives again seems to bring things back the way they were and should be

Derek Smith
Yes, it's very satisfying.

Michael A Losicco
I still cant believe that we are doing this

Sue OldsWidow
at least the trademark is in the hands of an American Cutlery

Me
Well I believe you have chosen and produced a knife that would make him proud
Are any of the Champlins still in the cutlery business?

Gus Marsh
Not that I know of.

Michael A Losicco
I have done many things in business to make a living but this feels like the most right thing that I have done
21:11

Me
Thats great Mike, that only comes from a love of the products
a passion for what you do

Derek Smith
Yes, there is a custom maker named Simsick that is a descendant of JB Francis Champlin. I believe he lives near boston? I have not met him. The champlin family has become rather dispearsed
21:13

Derek Smith
How can you not love a well made pocket knife?
21:14

Me
You guys brought back more than just a knife though. You paid a lot of attention to the details of bringing back the name and the reputation. I really like that
21:16

Michael A Losicco
When i bought my first knife to collect, one that my mom could not take from me that is, it was a little peal whittler marked Galvanic1882 and i needed to find out who made it, thats were it began for me. The passion I mean. That is an early JBF knife and I became a fan of his from then on
21:17

Derek Smith
It's strange that after 20 years or so of searching, you have only been able to find a total of 3 knives with that mark. They are rare. Part of what motivated me is that I wanted JBF knives to be more available, even if they were new

Me
Thats fantastic, how many names did JBF have for tangs

Michael A Losicco
A few were Galvanic, Maine Cutlery, JBF Champlin Warranted

Derek Smith
JBF Champlin over Warranted was his first. JBF champlin & Son over Warranted was another

Me
They also produced razors and sissors also?

Michael A Losicco
3C was another

Derek Smith
Galvanic 1882 was his premier line, the others were knives for working folk

Michael A Losicco
Derek do ypou think JBF made the razors and scissors??
21:22

Derek Smith
He started out as a jobber. I know he imported lots of cutlery from Germany. Eventually he manufactured his own goods, but not at first. The Beaver Falls equipment was purchased about 1890 and it took some time to get the plant installed and working.
21:24

Me
From everything I read he was extremely involved in his community and determined to employment in that area

Derek Smith
I have 2 kitchen carving knives with very similar marks. One is Marked Cattaraugus, Sheffield and the other Cattaraugus, Little Valley.
Jan you are right, he was interested in seeing the whole area prosper.
21:27

Me
So you will continue the line? Do you have plans for the next knife yet?

Derek Smith
Mike, you want to take that nice slow pitch?

Michael A Losicco
Yes we do we are trying to decide what the next pattern will be, I will tell you this the handles are going to be very special

Sue OldsWidow
exotic?
knife jewelry?

Me
Interesting! Thoughts on when we may hear or see more on that?

Sue OldsWidow
8-)

Billy Oneale
:-)

Michael A Losicco
hopefully soon maybe before the new year, we should have the pattern picked by next week

Derek Smith
More historic than exotic.
21:33

Michael A Losicco
yes and like the first knife with the wiping cloth added we will have something to go with the knife if we can pull it off
21:34

Me
OH, this is great! I cant wait to see what it is

Michael A Losicco
we don't want top say more because alot depoends on what GEC can and will do for us and we have not gotten the go ahead on it all yet

Me
That ok, anticipation is always great!
Are you pleased with the reaction of your current buyers?

Sue OldsWidow
what could be more historic than like a 1900 pearl.....8-)

Michael A Losicco
plus we have so many ideas that it is hard to pick from what we have planned on what should be next

Me
How has that gone for you?
21:37

Michael A Losicco
Well right now we have 1 knife left in ebony!! Might have a few specials from this batch but that is it, it is really good for us that people are getting into JBF and GEC makes a great knife!!

Derek Smith
Personally, I've been surprised by how many collectors really appreciate what we've been doing. GEC makes such a great knife it's easy to like the product.

Me
I agree and they also have a passion for the older patterns. Will you stay in that theme?

Michael A Losicco
With out a doubt, our goal is to do old patterns in keeping with what we think JBF would have done

Derek Smith
Years ago, I started writing a coffee table book about JBF Champlin and his cutlery legacy. It's been a long and slow project. It's really nice for me to have this little shot in the arm to keep me excited about the book project.

Me
How difficult will it be to get that handle or scale material

Michael A Losicco
We have some of the material in hand now
21:42

Michael A Losicco
Believe me you will be very happy to see the handles, Derek and I are really excited about it.

Me
I know that being historically accurate in blending the knife and the materials was important on this first offering, its nice to know that you will be having that same feel with the next one
21:43

Michael A Losicco
I collect mostly old knives and if we can't have them made to look old then I will have a problem having them made

Derek Smith
I have to tell you, I've had this knife brand in my head for years, and it never would have come to fruition if not for Michael and all his hard work and enthusiasm.

Me
Thats is a great statement Mike it shows a fantastic commitment,
I have heard the same type of commitment when speaking with Derek.
Mike just wanted a new knife didnt he LOL

Derek Smith
Thanks Jan! It's getting late on the east coast. You kids ready to wrap it up?

Michael A Losicco
Thanks Derek, the same goes for me. Most of the people I know don't have the love of what we are doing and we give eachother the strength to do it

Me
Well I know the folks here appreciate the discussion. I learned alot and had fun too :)

Michael A Losicco
Yes it's bed time for me 4AM comes too quick, good night all and remember keep hunting, knives i mane!!!

Sue OldsWidow
INPUT INPUT
split back whittler?

Me
Personally, I appreciate your being here and allowing us a look into what the original yeras looked like and what we can see coming in the future

Derek Smith
Sue, that's a very tempting idea.

Sue OldsWidow
yeah, thanks so much, I love the history

Michael A Losicco
Thanks Jan, BTW Sue I like the input.
Good night all

Sue OldsWidow
nite

Me
good night Mike
Derek I sent you a private chat

Derek Smith
Input is something we really need. Mike and I are mostly guessing at what the community will like. So far we are making things that we like and hoping others feel the same way. Thanks again folks, good night!
21:50

Me
Well, lets do a blog asking what old patterns the community here would like to see
21:55

Billy Oneale
Toenails and Whittlers
Or most anything

Derek Smith
Thanks Billy, we have an idea or two for a toenail.

Gus Marsh
Back from making dinner for my gang

Me
LOL Billy. Your an old pattern person also

Billy Oneale
The old C Platts toenails are some of the best looking ones in my opinion.

Me
Good to see you back Gus

Gus Marsh
LOL
22:01

Billy Oneale
Time to put a couple of little ones to bed. I'll try to be back later

Tags: Cattaragus, Champlin, Chat, JBF

Views: 383

Replies to This Discussion

Jan,

Thanks for saving this discussion in its entirety! I just now got around to reading it. Good stuff! Thanks to all of the participants for imparting their wealth of knowledge into this chat. This is how newcomers to the cutlery culture, like me, learn the history of how that knife that's in my pocket came to be. This is how that history is passed on and preserved.

Cheers, to all!

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