Why Winchester Went in for Cutlery

Winchester entered the knife market as a manufacturer in 1919 by acquiring two existing knife companies; Eagle Knife Co. of Connecticut & Napanoch Knife Co. of New York. Winchester stepped away from the market in 1942 to focus on war related manufactured products, but re-entered in the late 1980s by licensing its name to Blue Grass Cutlery. Blue Grass had high quality knives made by Queen Cutlery that featured the Winchester brand name for a handful of years until the license arrangement ran its course. Winchester eventually started licensing to other companies & now you will find the brand name used by several knife manufacturers by way of license agreements.
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Why Winchester Went in for Cutlery

Post by LongBlade » Wed Feb 26, 2020 10:48 pm

Here's an interesting old article from the American Cutler 1921 about Winchester entering cutlery production. I thought this would be of interest to this subforum ::nod::

Winchester Article Am Cutler 1921 pg 1.png
Winchester Article Am Cutler 1921 pg 2.png
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Re: Why Winchester Went in for Cutlery

Post by FRJ » Wed Feb 26, 2020 11:39 pm

That was just fun to read, Lee.
Very interesting and enjoyable.
Interesting that Winchester was showing Lamson & Goodnow Mfg., a renowned tool company and Empire knives
on display in Boston, Ma.

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Re: Why Winchester Went in for Cutlery

Post by Mumbleypeg » Wed Feb 26, 2020 11:56 pm

Interesting article, and dovetails nicely with what Goins’ Encylcopedia reports. According to that source, in 1919 Winchester “bought the Eagle Pocket Knife Company......and the Napanoch Knife Company” and moved the machinery from these plants to the Winchester factory in New Haven. Sounds like all they needed was the equipment and tooling, as the forging and heat treatment for knives was an easy transition from making firearms. As the article says, it was a natural fit for them.

Joe, I took it that the article was in a cutlery industry news publication (The American Cutler). I think the Lamson & Goodnow part was another news article, as was the part about cutlery exports, etc.

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Re: Why Winchester Went in for Cutlery

Post by LongBlade » Thu Feb 27, 2020 3:56 pm

Thanks Joe and Ken ::tu:: ::tu:: ... It was interesting to read that they mass produced bayonets for the British army prior to initiating a full blown cutlery effort! A few things about Winchester I find interesting - the time frame coincides exactly with Remington's efforts in cutlery - I just wonder if Winchester as another gun company thought they needed to compete with Remington which the article did not note at all :) .. Winchester did not make anywhere near the number of knives as Remington and I think that is one reason the older Winchester knives are more scarce...
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Re: Why Winchester Went in for Cutlery

Post by OLDE CUTLER » Thu Feb 27, 2020 4:15 pm

Mumbleypeg wrote:
Wed Feb 26, 2020 11:56 pm
Interesting article, and dovetails nicely with what Goins’ Encylcopedia reports. According to that source, in 1919 Winchester “bought the Eagle Pocket Knife Company......and the Napanoch Knife Company” and moved the machinery from these plants to the Winchester factory in New Haven. Sounds like all they needed was the equipment and tooling, as the forging and heat treatment for knives was an easy transition from making firearms. As the article says, it was a natural fit for them.

Joe, I took it that the article was in a cutlery industry news publication (The American Cutler). I think the Lamson & Goodnow part was another news article, as was the part about cutlery exports, etc.

Ken
I would think that besides the tooling and equipment, many of the Eagle and Napanoch employees would also have made the move. Winchester would have had a very skilled work force, at making guns. Cutlery making would have taken a whole different set of skills and would have been difficult and expensive to hire and/or train a whole new workforce for that effort.
"Sometimes even the blind chicken finds corn"

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Re: Why Winchester Went in for Cutlery

Post by Mumbleypeg » Thu Feb 27, 2020 4:27 pm

I think they both had a lot of excess production capacity after the war, and not enough orders to occupy that capacity and their employees. Like the article says, making cutlery made sense. Both companies had a lot of the necessary equipment (forges, presses, furnaces, etc) and a lot of employees. Certainly not like starting totally from scratch.

I recall reading that Remington hired some experienced cutlers to bring skills to their factory but they designed and made most of the required tooling themselves. Winchester bought other cutlery companies to obtain it. However both companies had made bayonets during the war so cutlery basics wasn’t totally foreign.

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Re: Why Winchester Went in for Cutlery

Post by FRJ » Thu Feb 27, 2020 4:57 pm

Mumbleypeg wrote:
Wed Feb 26, 2020 11:56 pm
Joe, I took it that the article was in a cutlery industry news publication (The American Cutler). I think the Lamson & Goodnow part was another news article, as was the part about cutlery exports, etc.
Ken
Looking back, I see how the articles are two different subjects.

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Re: Why Winchester Went in for Cutlery

Post by LongBlade » Fri Feb 28, 2020 2:17 am

FRJ wrote:
Thu Feb 27, 2020 4:57 pm
Mumbleypeg wrote:
Wed Feb 26, 2020 11:56 pm
Joe, I took it that the article was in a cutlery industry news publication (The American Cutler). I think the Lamson & Goodnow part was another news article, as was the part about cutlery exports, etc.
Ken
Looking back, I see how the articles are two different subjects.
Joe - I thought that other little clip underneath was actually pretty interesting - Frank Statton, formerly of LF & C, had all his bases covered by contracting Empire and Lamson & Goodnow Mfg as their agent 8) Sounds like a wise business move - many different pocket knives and butcher/kitchen/dining knives of high quality ::tu:: ... Wonder how well he did :) ..
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Re: Why Winchester Went in for Cutlery

Post by herbva » Fri Feb 28, 2020 2:55 am

Lee, thanks for sharing a very interesting and enlightening article. I do remember hearing or reading at some time that Winchester's move into cutlery was motivated in large part, if not entirely, by their desire to remain competitive with Remington. ::tu::
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Re: Why Winchester Went in for Cutlery

Post by FRJ » Fri Feb 28, 2020 3:05 am

LongBlade wrote:
Fri Feb 28, 2020 2:17 am
Joe - I thought that other little clip underneath was actually pretty interesting - Frank Statton, formerly of LF & C, had all his bases covered by contracting Empire and Lamson & Goodnow Mfg as their agent 8) Sounds like a wise business move - many different pocket knives and butcher/kitchen/dining knives of high quality ::tu:: ... Wonder how well he did :) ..
Boston would have been a good choice for sea and rail back in those days.

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Re: Why Winchester Went in for Cutlery

Post by Winchester M21 » Sun Apr 25, 2021 2:08 am

Awesome!! Always excited to see more history on Winchester cutlery. Just not much out there!!
I’ve thought many times about trying to put enough info together to do a book similar to Tom McCandless book.
Thanks for sharing!
Life is too short to carry an ugly knife!!
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Re: Why Winchester Went in for Cutlery

Post by 1967redrider » Mon Apr 26, 2021 1:33 am

LongBlade wrote:
Thu Feb 27, 2020 3:56 pm
Thanks Joe and Ken ::tu:: ::tu:: ... It was interesting to read that they mass produced bayonets for the British army prior to initiating a full blown cutlery effort! A few things about Winchester I find interesting - the time frame coincides exactly with Remington's efforts in cutlery - I just wonder if Winchester as another gun company thought they needed to compete with Remington which the article did not note at all :) .. Winchester did not make anywhere near the number of knives as Remington and I think that is one reason the older Winchester knives are more scarce...

My thoughts are there are actually a lot of old Winchester made knives out there, but they were made for E.C. Simmons, Shapleigh, and stamped Keen Kutter. Just my 2¢.
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