Case pocket knives the most popular brand among collectors

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This is an exclusive excerpt from "Collecting Case Knives Identification and Price Guide" (Krause Publications) by Steve Pfeiffer

Pattern 25

The 25 pattern is well known by Case collectors as the “Coke Bottle.” It is a small swell-center jack knife with a closed length of 3 inches and goes back to the early years of Case.

The 25 pattern has traditionally had a clip master blade and a small pen blade. During the Case XX era, the following principal variation was made: 6225 1/2, with bone handles, clip master blade and pen blade.

There is another rare variation that was made during the Case XX era, the 6225 RAZ, that had a razor master blade. Older XX examples of the 6225 1/2 with the clip master blade will sometimes be found with long pull on the master clip blade.

The 6225 1/2 in the CASE XX stamping will be found in several of the Case XX-era bone color variations including green, regular and red, as well as in rough black.

The use of bone handles on the 6225 1/2 continued into the 1970s. During the 1970s, delrin was substituted for bone on the 6225 1/2 on a random basis. It is possible the 6225 1/2 was changed to being handled 100 percent in delrin after 1973.

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Pattern 54

The 54 pattern is the legendary Case “Trapper.” It was always popular with knife users and since the late 1970s has gained prominence as arguably the “premier” Case pocket knife pattern in terms of collector interest. The standard 54 pattern is a long “dogleg”-style jack pattern with a closed length of 4-1/8 inches. While in recent years the 54 pattern has been manufactured in a number of blade configurations, the classic and most widely used combination is a long “California clip” master blade and a long spay blade. The basic 54 pattern is a “capped” jack knife, with bolsters at both ends.

As with most of the older pocket knife patterns, the exact history of the 54 pattern has not been documented and detailed factory records in most instances do not exist.

The 54 Trapper is of course a popular pattern today in the Case product line, and in recent years other manufacturers of traditional pocket knives have produced similar patterns. During the pre-WWII years, however, trapper patterns in the 54 style were not widely produced. The pattern we know today as the Case 54 was most likely introduced in the 1920s. Both Case and Union Cutlery/KABAR produced similar 54 style trapper patterns during this time frame, and it is possible that one of these two cutlery companies designed the pattern.

Pattern 75

The 75 pattern is a large serpentine stockman pattern with square bolsters; closed length is 4-1/4 inches. The pattern goes back to the early years of Case and has been manufactured as a two-blade pattern and three-blade stockman pattern. The two-blade version of the 75 pattern is known to collectors as the “Moose”; the three-blade 75 stockman is often referred to as the “Jumbo Stockman.”

The 75 pattern has always been made with a standard clip as the main blade. During the Case XX era, the following principal variations of the 75 pattern were made:

Two blades, “standard” clip master blade: 6275 Sp, with bone handles with long spay secondary blade.

Three-blade variations, “standard” clip master blade: 5375, with stag handles, secondary blades sheepfoot and spay; and 6375, with bone handles, secondary blades sheepfoot and spay.

Production of the 5375 continued through the Case XX USA years and the pattern was discontinued in 1970 when Case stopped regular production of stag-handled pocket knives.

The bone-handled 75 pattern variations in the CASE XX stamping will be found in several of the Case XX-era bone color variations including green, regular and red, as well as in rough black.

The 6275 Sp was constructed with two blades operating on two backsprings, with no center liner. Both the 6275 Sp Moose and 6375 Jumbo Stockman were mainstays in the Case product line and both continued in production through the 1970s and 1980s.

During the 1970s, delrin was substituted for bone on the 6275 and the 6375 on a random basis. Both delrin and bone examples will be found; however, starting in 1978, the 6275 and the 6375 were both switched back to being handled 100 percent in bone. Production of the 6275SP in bone was continued until the end of 1990, when the pattern was discontinued. The 6375 has remained in the standard Case product line to the present day.

Pattern 093

The 093 pattern is a long slim “tickler” or “toothpick” pattern, often referred to by collectors as the “Texas Toothpick”; closed length is 5 inches. It goes back to the early years of Case.

During the pre-WWII era, it was made in various celluloid handle materials and in bone.

The 093 pattern has always been made with a single clip blade. During the Case XX era, the following principal variations were made: 31093, with yellow composition handles; and 61093, with bone handles.

The 31093 was introduced in 1961 and will be found with the CASE XX-era yellow composition handles. It was listed in Case factory price lists until being shown as discontinued as of April 1, 1967. However, the 31093 was not made with the CASE XX USA tang stamping, so evidently it was still in the price lists until the residual stock (with the CASE XX tang stamping) was exhausted.

The 61093 in the CASE XX stamping will be found in several of the Case XX-era bone color variations including green, regular and red. I do not believe the 61093 was ever made in rough black.

The use of bone handles on the 61093 continued into the 1970s. During the 1970s, delrin was substituted for bone on the 61093 on a random basis.

The 61093 was discontinued in 1975. For some unknown reason, examples of the 61093 with the 1973 tang stamping (seven dots) are very scarce.

When buying and selling antique pocket knives, there are many factors that determine the final sale price for a particular knife. Knife prices can rise and fall based on collecting trends and economic factors.

In most transactions, the final sale price depends primarily on the dynamics between the individual buyer and seller. How badly does the buyer want the knife? And how motivated is the seller? The dynamic in buying and selling pocket knives is in some respects no different from that involved in any other transaction, whether it is the purchase and sale of a house, an automobile, or commodities.

The big difference in a pocket knife sale is that there is often a sentimental or emotional component. Every knife collector has different preferences as to pattern, condition, the exact coloring of handle material, etc. For each knife, there are intangible factors that may affect a buyer’s enthusiasm to make the purchase. Likewise, some knife sellers are attached to their knives and not strongly motivated to sell, while another seller may want to quickly divest knives to obtain cash.

The best advice I can give to the Case pocket knife collector in establishing values of individual knives is to learn the basic patterns and variations and then gain experience through study and observation, which are the best teachers.


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More Images:

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Pattern 11 Case XX USA 9 Dot, 1971, 5111-1/2 LSSP CHEETAH, 4-3/8", $450.
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Pattern 11 Case XX USA 1 Dot, 1979, 6111-1/2 L, bone, 4-3/8", $125.
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Pattern 093 Case XX 61093, reddish bone, 5", $250.
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The Case 62009 "Barlow" pattern was popular as an inexpensive working knife, especially during the pre-World War II years. These three 62009 patterns with the Case Tested stamping exhibit nice sawcut green bone handles. Closed length is 3 3/8 inches. With pen secondary blade and iron bolster and liner. 62009 Sh with sheepfoot master blade, $450.

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