An excellent identification and value guide on Keen Kutter pocketknives, written by a Keen Kutter authority. Over 1100 illustrations from original catalogs, current values, and additional collector and historical information make this book a must-have for anyone interested in old KK knives – Simmons or Shapleigh eras.
reviewed by Knife World Staff
Among knife collectors, there’s little doubt that the most popular hardware brand of the past is the “Keen Kutter” made famous by Simmons Hardware Company, and later by Shapleigh Hardware Co. Founder E.C. Simmons possessed a great appreciation for fine pocket knives, and it’s said that a kindred spirit Simmons encountered in his travels provided the basis for the company’s slogan: “The Recollection of Quality Remains Long After the Price is Forgotten.” Simmons’ Keen Kutter line represented that level of quality, and this is a big reason why the knives are so popular today.
Keen Kutter knife collectors have long had access to a catalog reprint or two, as well as dedicated sections in several popular knife price guides, but this new volume on Keen Kutter pocket knives takes everything to a whole new level. Painstakingly assembled by antique tool authority Alvin Sellens from a large amount of original literature, this will no doubt become the standard reference for Keen Kutter knife fans.
The new book begins with a brief history of Simmons Hardware Co. and a summary of the other brands utilized on the firm’s knives, such as Hornet, Laclede, and Oak Leaf (these brands are not represented elsewhere in the book). This is followed by a general introduction to pocketknife patterns, blade shapes, handle materials, tang stamps, and that sort of thing. The main section of over 1100 antique knife illustrations is organized in a manner that should be familiar to knife collectors, as Mr. Sellens has sorted the knives first by number of blades and then by pattern number, the same way that Case knives are usually presented. If your knife is marked with the pattern number, better yet: you can look in the book’s handy index to find the exact page it’s on. With each knife is a description, current value, and period of manufacture. There is also a brief section on commemorative and other recent Keen Kutter knives.
Knife values were contributed by longtime knife collector Mark McClurg. It’s interesting to note that values are given based on knives in Excellent condition rather than Mint, a realistic move and one that collectors will definitely want to keep in mind as they make use of this book.
I find Keen Kutter Pocket Knives a very useful and well thought out book, much more than just a catalog reprint. If you are interested in old pocket knives, and Keen Kutters in particular, you would do well to add this one to your shelf.
Softcover, 224 pp.