Homage to Traditional Pen Knives

This forum is dedicated to the discussion and display of old knives. The rich history of all the many companies that made them through the early years will be found here as well as many fine examples of the cutlers art. Share pictures of your old knives and your knowledge here!
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LongBlade
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Homage to Traditional Pen Knives

Postby LongBlade » Fri Jun 09, 2017 2:21 pm

I would like to start a thread on Traditional Pen Knife patterns similar to the Traditional Hunters thread under Knife Lore but without any date restrictions. My “perception” is that Pen Knives were produced and bought by many folks in the early days of the cutlery industry – at least as compared to today. Furthermore many modern makers appear to focus more on larger knives though some companies do make traditional Pen Knives (eg, GEC) – yet even so I believe many small patterns made today have less market potential. So though I was tempted to keep them to 1965 or older I am curious to see those Pen Knives post-1965 - of course in addition to the pre-1965 Pen knives which is my own personal favorites :) ....

Perspective: It appears based on background reading that Pen Knives were actually more difficult to make based on the blades sitting on opposite ends of the spring. This required special crafting of the spring and both blades to open and particularly close into their respective positions without blade or liner rub. Not only were the blades small to grind but to make them snap open and close in their respective positions was and still is a technical skill and challenge – even more so when 4 or more blades are involved. In the old days (over 100 years ago) they were more expensive to purchase in general compared to larger Jack Knives though the market these days has changed that valuation – seems most guys prefer big ol’ Jacks or knives in general – personally I like both but have an affinity for the small knives no less and sometimes even more so than bigger knives.

No doubt Sheffield played an important early role in the development of Pen Knives starting in the 1700s or earlier but particularly in the early 1800s (see “Smith’s Key…” from 1816 for some real beauties categorized as Pen Knives). Indeed, many cutlers emigrated from Sheffield to the Northeast US and the majority of cutlers emigrated from Sheffield to CT, MA and other states. German cutleries also made a number of quality Pen Knives and indeed Germans emigrated to the US cutleries as well but had more trouble getting work here due to the language barrier from my understanding. Nonetheless I would not restrict this thread to any geographic location of a cutlery –any cutlery that makes Pen Knives would be great to show. In fact one may start to see a pattern of styles from different parts of the world!!

Pen knives in my opinion were generally a closed length of 2 1/2” to 3 3/4” (though Levine’s notes Pen Knives as 2 15/16” to 3 3/4”). Most had fancy handle covers such as MOP, ivory, tortoise shell, abalone, engraved aluminum, sterling or gold and jigged bone. However you do see other covers such as smooth bone, horn, wood, composition material and celluloid. Thus Pen Knives were in general “fancy” or “high-end” using top notch materials. In addition high-end Pen Knives had file work on the liners or milled liners. Some blades had fancy file work along the spine. Like other knives there were a variety of bolsters used to make them including tip, crown, equal end as a few examples while others were just shadow patterns (no bolsters). The blades in general were mostly spear point with many showing a file or manicure blade in many cases - some even included scissors. Sheepsfoot, Wharncliffe and even coping blades were seen as well. All three type of blade joints were used including common, half-sunk or sunk – the latter known as sunk joints were the most elegant. Those with sunk joints generally needed cut-outs or notches in the liners/handles to access the nail nicks but there are exceptions dependent upon the pattern or design.

Pen knives probably saw much use in early days as quill knives though overtime they also become popular knives for gentleman and ladies for many uses – small but elagant in many cases and an easy pocket carry for many. I could also see how some of the fancy Pen Knives were just left on desks or tables in days of yore for multiple uses including cutting quills and even sewing for the ladies as just two examples. There was actually quite a variety of Pen Knives in terms of styles or patterns and based on Levine’s categorization of this family of knives as a basis there were the following noted:

TWO-BLADE SENATOR
THREE-BLADE SENATOR (not a whittler)
FOUR-BLADE SENATOR
SLEEVEBOARD
OVAL or CIGAR (Anglo-Saxon & Milton)
TWO-BLADE CONGRESS
FOUR-BLADE CONGRESS
“GUNSTOCK”
CROWN or COFFIN (barrel-shaped)
MODERN CROWN (rectangular)
SWELL-CENTER and BALLOON (including Tuxedos)
PREMIUM (SERPENTINE)
WHARNCLIFFE
“DOG-LEG” SERPENTINE
SWELL-CENTER SERPENTINE
SWELL-CENTER CONGRESS or SWAY-BACK

There were other categories of Pen Knives as discussed in Levine’s separate from those listed above including Skeleton, Whittlers, Lobster knives, Quill knives, Mechanical Pen knives, Office and Letter Openers, Embossed, Color Etched & Enameled Handles, Advertising knives, & Figural and Miniature knives… Feel free to post any of these...

Though we have threads dedicated to some of these such as Whittlers, Congress and Wharncliffe knives I will leave it up to the contributor to include their knives here or in the already specialized established threads or archive them in multiple threads - to me I like to see them in any thread or multiple threads that your knife fits as it is best for research purposes and many use this site as a resource often with different search terms…. AAPK certainly comes up in internet searches near the top when searching out knife information!! To me that makes this site particularly important from that perspective and no doubt I have seen knives on other knife forums reference AAPK as the source of info ::nod:: ...

Pen Knives are no doubt sprinkled here and there under many threads so was hoping we can have one thread that pulls many of them together... Indeed unique patterns are most welcome!!

I’ll start with a few of my own and will no doubt add other examples from my collection as time goes on… Looking forward to seeing other Pen Knives from all and hope this thread draws some interest… Let’s pay some homage to the Pen Knife :D Thanks to all! ::tu::

Thomaston Knife Co Equal-End Pen (3 & 1/16”) – Jigged bone with bar shield… interesting pattern in that secondary pen blade had a nail nick whereas master blade had a long pull but more so note that the secondary pen had a common joint whereas the master was essentially a half-sunk joint (close to full sunk but ever so slightly above liner) … one other note about this knife not obvious in photos is that the pattern was rather flat from the mark to pile sides.

Closed Mark Side DSCN6314.JPG


Closed Pile Side DSCN6335.JPG


Blades Open DSCN6377.JPG


Tang Stamp DSCN6382.JPG


Southington Cut Co Crown Pen (3”) – MOP with classic crown bolsters with a taper towards the ends rather than straight barrel-shaped crown bolsters seen on some knives… both the master and file or manicure blade had long pulls with common joints on both.

Closed Mark Side DSCN6604 2.JPG


Closed Pile Side DSCN6633.JPG


Blades Open - Master - DSCN6539.JPG


Blades Open - File - DSCN6550.JPG


Tang Stamp DSCN6585.JPG


Cheers!
Lee
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Re: Homage to Traditional Pen Knives

Postby Quick Steel » Fri Jun 09, 2017 2:50 pm

I believe this is the only pen knife I have. It was made in Germany but other than that I have no other information.
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Re: Homage to Traditional Pen Knives

Postby Quick Steel » Fri Jun 09, 2017 3:00 pm

I just realized there is a 3rd blade. This is in a whittler pattern.
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Re: Homage to Traditional Pen Knives

Postby LongBlade » Fri Jun 09, 2017 3:17 pm

Nice old knife QS ::tu:: ... I guess based on your post Germany was on blade but no maker stamp - nonetheless pretty cool if it is a whittler with patterned sterling (looks like sterling and not nickel silver) - don't see too many whittler patterns with sterling covers ::nod:: ... is the third blade broken off or just buried in the frame? Thanks for sharing!
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Re: Homage to Traditional Pen Knives

Postby tjmurphy » Fri Jun 09, 2017 3:51 pm

Here are two that come to mind that I have: CASE XX, U.S.A. MOP handles and a Henckles sleeve board pen with ebony handles.

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Re: Homage to Traditional Pen Knives

Postby kootenay joe » Fri Jun 09, 2017 4:09 pm

Great idea for a thread ! Pen knives are my favorite, esp 4 blade Senators, zenith of the cutler's skill. I have a lot of pen knives, at least many hundreds, so it will take some time but i will find a variety of patterns & makers & then post pictures here.
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Re: Homage to Traditional Pen Knives

Postby Lawrence » Fri Jun 09, 2017 5:27 pm

Great thread LB...I have all kinds of pen knives, love them...here's a Hartkopf & Co, Germany, and and IXL Gorge Wostenholm, Sheffield that I carry regularly. cheers
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Hartkopf & Co Solingen Germany (5).JPG
IXL George Wostenholm horn (8).JPG

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Re: Homage to Traditional Pen Knives

Postby Quick Steel » Fri Jun 09, 2017 5:30 pm

Lee, Germany was on the blade, that's all. All blades are full. I didn't realize there was a third blade until after the photo shoot. I'm confident it is sterling silver.
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Re: Homage to Traditional Pen Knives

Postby zp4ja » Fri Jun 09, 2017 5:44 pm

A seriously underrated pattern in my opinion.

Here is an old (like 100 y/o) smoke pearl MOP. Some say re-handled. Personally not convinced of that. Regardless, some of the prettiest pearl I have ever seen and the knife is in great condition for its age.

And some newer 65'-69' siblings in imitation MOP. I believe this is the only knife pattern, pattern 61 that CASE ever made with a cuticle blade.

Jerry
Attachments
CASE Bradford PA_ 8261_mark side blades open.jpg
CASE Bradford PA_ 8261_pile side blades open.jpg
CASE Bradford PA_ 8261_comparison to USA models.jpg
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Re: Homage to Traditional Pen Knives

Postby jerryd6818 » Fri Jun 09, 2017 5:57 pm

Lawrence!! So good to 'see' your smiling face. Haven't seen you around in a while and missed you.


The first one that came to mind was this Miller Bro's watch fob knife. Do you consider this a pen knife???? Even after reading the OP, my definition is any small knife with blades at both ends.
Miller Bros Open W-Chain.JPG


Surely these Miracle Whip knives fit the category.
1937 Miracle Whip 4th Anniversary - Open Mark.JPG


And how about this Wabash Cutlery Tuxedo, so generously sent to me by edgy46. What a little beauty. I feel honored to have it.
Wabash Cutlery Tuxedo - Mark Open.JPG
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Re: Homage to Traditional Pen Knives

Postby LongBlade » Fri Jun 09, 2017 10:00 pm

WOW - ::ds:: - thanks to all for sharing those awesome beauties!! ::tu:: ::tu:: ... I'm really glad I am not the only one that truly appreciates these smaller gems ::nod:: :)

Jerryd - and yes FOB knives in my book count so thanks!!!

Keep'em coming fellas!!!

Here is my H&B Pen with worm groove jigged bone that I posted before in General Discussion but certainly deserves some "homage" :D ...

Closed Mark Side DSCN6021 3.JPG


Closed Pile Side DSCN6012.JPG


Blades Open DSCN6027.JPG


Thanks again to all!! ::tu::
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Re: Homage to Traditional Pen Knives

Postby dcgm4 » Fri Jun 09, 2017 10:22 pm

Very interesting topic, Lee! I can't wait to see what knives will show up in this thread. ::tu:: On that note, here are a few of mine.

1. Wm. Elliot & Co.
2. A. F. Bannister & Co.
3. Vignos
4. Dixon Cutlery Co.
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Wm. Elliot Pair.jpg
Bannister Sleeveboard Congress 1.JPG
Bannister Sleeveboard Congress 1.JPG (19.24 KiB) Viewed 2192 times
Vignos1.JPG
Vignos2.JPG
Dixon Cutlery 1.jpg
Dixon Cutlery 2.jpg
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Re: Homage to Traditional Pen Knives

Postby FRJ » Fri Jun 09, 2017 11:05 pm

What a nice opportunity to show off some knives.

At 3" this is one of my favorite knives. A gift from Lee. Thanks so much, Pal.
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Re: Homage to Traditional Pen Knives

Postby FRJ » Fri Jun 09, 2017 11:10 pm

A gift from my daughter a few years back.
2 15/16".
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Re: Homage to Traditional Pen Knives

Postby rea1eye » Sat Jun 10, 2017 12:13 am

Good topic!

I have not been carrying these too much. Perhaps I should give them another chance.
Very light weight in pocket, non threatening when you take them out, no pocket bulge.
All under 3 1/4 inch.

Let's see more of them!

Bob
Attachments
Case.7279.jpg
Case.9261.jpg
Case.72033.jpg


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