I had never seen a Zenith pocket knife until a few days so I looked up the history in Goins and they are a fairly vintage knife. However, I was wondering if anyone knew just how rare these Marshall Wells Hardware Zenith pocket knives are and the assessment of their over all quality?
Here is a Marshall Wells Hardware Co. lock back folding hunter. It is obviously a NYKC produced folder (the shield is the main give away) and then branded Marshall Wells. Part of their Zenith outdoor hunting, camping and fishing lineup. I have a HSB OVB marked lock back folding hunter that is exactly like this one with the exception of the bone handle, jigging pattern and of course the markings—but again a NYKC product.
Marshall Wells Hardware Company was started in Duluth MN in 1892. It was a wholesale hardware company. Sometime around 1917 the hardware part of the company name was dropped and it became just Marshall-Wells. This lock back folder was made by NYKC probably between 1892 and 1917. I have included a page from a 1912 MW Hardware Company publication showing this exact knife third one down. The blade etch on mine is pretty much faded and worn off but under strong light and magnification it can be seen.
My example is marked MARSHALL/WELLS/HDW. CO. On the pile side tang and has the Zenith Circle trademark (sun at its daily pinnacle or zenith) on the mark side tang with M.W.H. Co. At he bottom of the circle. Also both of the cap end bolsters have M-W engraved in a fancy script.
I don’t see them often but there are some others on AAPK that have one. In terms of quality the fact that this one was made by NYKC speaks to that issue!
I am sure they may also have sourced knives from other Cutlery companies but I think it is safe to say this one was made by New York Knife Company.
I am from the Duluth Mn. area so they are a little more common around here and I have several. They had a few other knife companies make them and several were made in Germany, England and even Sweden. Most were made by NYK. All I have seen are of very good quality as were all of the other hardware tools, axes and everything else I've seen with their stamp on it. They had a pretty large catalog and were a big company. There main building is still in use as a restaurant among other things. They were way ahead of their time when they were in business with a train track running into the building for loading and unloading, a exercise room and a day care for their employees and held seminars for the hardware store businesses that they sold to. They had branch offices in the Northwest and Canada. ____Dave
This is my only Zenith M-W knife. It came down from my mom, from her dad and maybe even her grampa. The best clue as to who made it may be the punch; two pieces with a patent date of June 10th 1902. The shield kinda looks like a Remington I have. The jigging is so pocket worn it could be anybody's. Even with it's problems it's still a top notch knife. Bruce