In 1911, H. N. Platts, was able to draw on his extensive friendships and family connections in the cutlery world to start Western States Cutlery and Manufacturing of Boulder Colorado. At first only a jobbing business, by 1920 construction and machinery purchases were underway to begin manufacture of knives. Through name changes--to Western States Cutlery Co. in 1953, then Western Cutlery Co. in 1956--and moves first across town and later to Longmont Colorado, the company stayed under the leadership of the Platt family until 1984. In that year, the company was sold to Coleman, becoming Coleman-Western. Eventually purchased by Camillus in 1991, Western continued until Camillus expired in 2007.
Pick this up at the flea market yesterday, I have never seen a Western SFO made for Sears. I ran the search of the Western forum for the term Craftsman and found the term here two times, so apparently I'm not the first person to have encountered a Craftsman made by Western. The Craftsman I found in the Western forum that actually had a picture of the knife showed a stacked leather handle. This knife is unusual in that the handle is jigged bone, and the jigging also has worm grooves in it. I have not seen many Western branded knives with jigged bone handles, though I know they did make them because I see them in the catalog reprint.
This is the first Western product I have encountered with jigged bone handles. At either end of the bone slabs are what appears to be hard plastic spacers with what appears to be leather spacers between them, and their is probably a black spacer in there also. Apparently the plastic very hard and virtually indestructible the plastic and the black spacer between the plastic layers was apparently not as indestructible as the plastic. The plastic has been broken in some places but is still very hard. It is probably the hardness that has been responsible for it shipping in certain places.
I would love to hear from some of the Western experts or anyone who knows about the craftsman knives made by Western. I was thinking of attempting to restore the layers at either end of the bone handle, to make the knife look better for display purposes. However, if these are really rare and valuable I would not want to destroy the value and the uniqueness of the knife.
Please let me know what your opinion is about this knife, especially those of you who are Western collectors.
That 39 pattern with the shark fin on the spine was the biggest sfo from Western to Sears, and to your old Portland store. All of the Westerns for Sears that I recall seeing were that pattern, but they may have done some 66s. And they were all jigged bone, I think. I have owned or still own several of the Western jigged bone knives, most of which were the 48 variations. They are Knice. I will try to come up with some images. I will go look.
I have an L66 made for Craftsman. I have seen 48s, 66s, and 39s, mostly "Ls".
This one would be a 639, since Western used "6" to designate jigged bone as the handle material. "5" was for genuine stag. When Delrin replaced jigged bone in 1961, Western used "6" to indicate Delrin handles. Stag went away as well.
Based on the stamp and an apparent steel guard (Is it magnetic?), the knife is an early post-WW2 version.
"MADE IN USA" >> post-WW2
Steel guard >> early post-WW2 before brass became available for commercial use again.
Thanks Cal and ZZ! I was hoping you would both comment on this knife. I appreciate you sharing your knowledge.
Do either of you know if there were any bone-handled sfo's made for Coast Cutlery? Coast what is less than an hour's drive from where I do most of my knife hunting. I see lots of Coast Cutlery knives, but I have yet to find a bone handled Western SFO.
Thanks again for being so willing to share the last wealth of knowledge you both have on the Western brand.
The only way to answer that question would be to find old Coast catalogs. Absolutely zip diddley on Western's FB SFOs is known other than "Oh, here's a knife made by Western with XXX's name on it".
Other than Coast, I know they made knives for Ranger, Hawthorne, Western Auto (Western Field), Craftsman and J.C. HIggins (both Sears), and WARD Master Quality (Montgomery-Wards). It's probable that there are others out there that have just not shown up because they were made in such few numbers.
Almost all SFO FBs from Western that I own (or have seen) have been "L" models. A smattering have been phenolic plastic ("P"), jigged bone ("5"), and celluloid ("2").