I am always humbled by the amount of knowledge that members of AAPK have when it concerns specific brands of knives for which they have a passion. I am further humbled when I find something that I held to be an unquestioned fact that turns out to be wrong.
Kershaw is an Oregon brand that we sold in the cutlery store when I managed it in the 1980s and early 1990s; it was our most popular line of sporting and work knives. So when I make a mistake in a fact about Kershaw I begin to question what else I might “know.”
The fact in question was when did Pete Kershaw sell Kershaw Knives to Kai Cutlery of Japan? I had always been under the impression that that date was 1985, the year that Kershaw moved from their location on Jean Road in Lake Oswego Oregon to their new facility in Wilsonville Oregon. The move coincided with the story that was circulating within the industry about Pete selling Kershaw Knives to Kai Cutlery. So these two incidences became connected in my mind as happening the same year.
It turns out I was wrong!
Like many collectors I collect catalogs of knives that I like to collect. In the last few years I have made an effort to find Kershaw catalogs, hoping that someday I might be able to do a listing of the various models they made, and when they made them. One of the catalogs I have accumulated is the 2006 catalog. I have referred to this catalog often because there are some key designs in that catalog however I had missed the timeline that was written at the top of most of the pages. The timeline is written in white letters on a very light background and is incredibly hard to read, especially for someone with bad eyesight and old eyeballs. Recently I discovered that timeline and decided to translate from indecipherable light colored lines into black letters on a white background so I could read it! In so doing I discovered that Pete Kershaw sold Kershaw Knives to Kai Cutlery in 1978, not in 1985 as I had thought all these years.
The good thing that came out of all this is a timeline of Kershaw Knives from 1974 to 2006, which I think the Kershaw fans here on AAPK will definitely enjoy.
KERSHAW TIMELINE 1974 - 2006
Taken from the 2006 Kershaw catalog
1974 – Kershaw opens for business with it’s no hassle, lifetime guarantee.
1978 – Kai Cutlery Co ltd. of Japan purchases Kershaw knives and creates Kai USA ltd.
1982 – Kershaw expands line of field knives, folding pocket knives, and adds its floating fish fillet knives.
1984 – Kershaw expands his market into Europe as Kai Cutlery Europe.
1985 – Kershaw moves into its new facility in Wilsonville, Oregon.
1986 – In memory of Delly Wade officer (1960 – 1984) the D.W.O. Model 3000 was added to the Officer Ranch series.
1986 – D.W.O. the biggest selling small knife inspires bold new colors. Taskmaster shears introduced.
1990 – new series added to the Kershaw product line; American Hand-Crafted Stag, Saber Tooth folders, Manago work knives, and a new line of dress knives and accessories.
1991 – Kershaw’s limited-edition Scrimshaw originals by renowned artist Walter Alexander, expands to include hunting dogs, African wildlife, waterfowl and North American wildlife.
1994 – Kershaw’s ever popular Blade Trader series received a new handle design, and the line is expanded to include a hunters Blade Trader and a fisherman’s Blade Trader.
1995 – Two new series added to the Kershaw’s product line; Liner Lock models and the unique Liner Action series.
1996 – Alaskan Blade trader model 1098AK with patented got-hook skinning blade added to line.
1997 – Kershaw introduces the Multi-Tool model A100C, and obtains patents on its unique, adjustable locking pliers.
1998 – Kershaw introduces the Ken Onion designs with SpeedSafe, random task, model 1510 wins Blade Magazine’s Blade Show “American Made Knife of the Year” award.
1999 – Kershaw’s 25th anniversary, blackout, model 1550st wins the Blade Magazine’s Blade Show “Best Buy of the Year” award.
2000 – Kershaw’s boa, model 1580 wins IWA “International Knife Award.”
2001 – Black Chive, model 1600BLK wins Blade Magazine’s Blade Show “American Made Knife of the Year” award.
2002 – Kershaw introduces Ken Onion’s Leek with SpeedSafe, model 1660VIB, the first knife with a rainbow finish, wins Blade Magazine’s Blade Show “Overall Knife of the Year” award.
2003 – Kai USA Ltd.’s Shun Classic 8” Santoku, model DM0718, wins Blade Magazine’s Blade Show “Kitchen Knife of the Year” award.
2004 – National Geographic Carabiner Tool, model 1004 with its patented features wins Blade Magazine’s Blade Show “Most Innovative Import of the Year” award.
2005 – Kershaw sweeps Blade Magazine’s Blade Show with an unprecedented 4 awards – E.T., model 1900, “Most Innovative American Made Knife of the Year,” Offset, model 1597 “Overall Knife of the Year,” Ken Onion’s 8” Chef’s model DM0500 “Kitchen Knife of the Year,” & the Spyderco Spyker, model C96 “Knife Collaboration of the Year.”
2006 – Kai USA Ltd. and Kershaw Knives in proud partnership with the Paralyzed Veterans of America, introduce ZT (Zero Tolerance) Knives, a new series of combat-ready knives for military and law enforcement use.