Few American knife makers can match the colorful history of W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery. The company traces its roots back to 1889, when the Case brothers began making knives and selling them along a wagon trail in upstate New York. In 1900, the four siblings incorporated their business to form the Case Brothers Company.
They ran the business out of their father Job’s home, and even though the patriarch of the clan never actually made a knife, they put his face and birth year in early advertising because they believed that 1847 and the mature visage of Job made the company appear older and better established.
The current company was founded by John Russell Case, who started out working for the brothers, including his father W.R. Case, for whom he named his company. Russ, as he was known, was a natural salesman, and when his uncles realized he was making more money selling the knives than they were building them, they issued an ultimatum: Russ must take a pay cut or leave the company.
Russ left and with his brother-in law Harvey Platts formed what became W.R Case & Sons Cutlery. Harvey had been with C. Platts and Sons, another cutlery company that was struggling. With Harvey’s knife-making skills and Russ’s salesmanship, Case became a household name.
During World War I, Case sold the Navy 81,000 knives for 39 cents each.
During WWII, Russ offered his employees dependable transportation to and from work in company “Case Cars,” also saving gasoline, oil and rubber in a time of rationing. The Case car tradition continued through 1976.
Case provided NASA a special knife for manned Apollo and Ge