Not sure about the kitchen knives of the early years. But their sure is a lot of the newer ones in the thrift stores cheap. Must be a reason for that other than people do not know how to sharpen. I have read they are not quality.
I am only aware of the kitchen knives from the 1970's. We have a boneing knife from that time that was my father's in-law. I remember he had bought a whole set back then. I know today they are cheap imports.