Remington’s Knife History
The Remington Corporation and the knives that they built have had one of the most influential affect on the U.S. cutlery industry. From the time America was settled, to the end of WWI, American knife companies struggled to compete with Britain and German imports, but events that occurred during and after the First World War led to a great change in this phenomenon. Unprecedented opportunities arose, and Remington stepped up to seize the moment. In the process, they created some of today’s most prized collectables. In an ironic twist, the next World War played the greatest role in ending the company’s domination of the industry.
Preceding WWI, the U.S. knife manufacturers were having some lukewarm success in competing with imported knives. Most of the competition came from Britain and Germany. Knives made in Sheffield England were dominating the quality end of the business because of their tradition of quality. On the low end, Germany was the front runner with their inexpensive knife making methods. The events of WWI completely rearranged these circumstances. Many of the best Sheffield cutlers were sent by Britain to fight in the same Regiment. This turned out to be disastrous to the British knife industry because that particular Regiment was nearly wiped out in a single bloody battle. This event severely crippled the British knife industry, and it was never able to recover. Germany’s cutlery business was also damaged from the war. Like Britain , they lost many of their great cutlers, but that was not their largest problem. Naturally there was a strong anti-German sentiment following the war and most Americans chose to shun imports from the country. These events were tragic to Britain and Germany, but created a great demand for American made knives.
The Remington arms company was aware of the demand, and was more than ready to capitalize on the situation. As one of the leading arms producers, the company had been extremely profitable during the war. When the war ended, they had idle facilities that were no longer relied on to fill the high demand for war products. In addition, they had more than enough capital from their profits that they could build new state of the art facilities to mass produce high quality knives. Remington was under way by 1920 with a wide variety of pocketknives. They had a system that allowed for never before seen variations. The company would use a single handle form and make numerous versions. They used a single handle pattern and produced it with a single blade, two blades, or three blades. In addition, each pattern variation was produced with numerous handle materials. They even developed their own handle material called pyremite which was a plastic that was dyed different colors to offer even more variety. The Company claimed to have over 700 different patterns, and at their height was producing 10,000 knives per day. Soon, the great depression hit and the company sold out to the Dupont Company. Dupont did not change anything about the knives, but eventually discontinued the cutlery business in 1940 due to the undertaking of several U.S. government defense projects. The facilities that were being used for knife making were needed to supply the government with weapons of war. The company sold its equipment to the Pal Company who assembled the remaining parts, constructed a few military knives, and later scrapped the equipment in 1950.
Despite Remington’s departure from the cutlery business, several newer Remington knives are in circulation. Reproductions of older patterns have been manufactured by other companies on contract. Many of them are extremely collectable and are quite valuable. There are a large number of the older knives around as well, but they are usually well worn. Some of the more popular patterns (The bullet knives in particular) are among the most valuable collectable knives in existence.
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