The most comprehensive and accurate history of Kinfolks Knives to date, providing rare insight into Kinfolks and the families involved in its creation and development. Includes four vintage catalogs to aid collectors in the identification and dating of Kinfolks knives.
Reviewed by Knife World Staff
Of all the various companies that have at one time or another been associated with America’s first family of cutlery – the Cases – it’s entirely possible that Kinfolks Incorporated is the most unusual and most misunderstood. This book sheds new light on the interesting old firm and the knives they produced.
Author Dean Elliott Case is the great-great-grandson of family patriarch Job Case, great-grandson of Jean Case of Case Brothers fame, and the grandson of Dean J. Case who was connected with Cattaraugus, Case Brothers, Standard Knife Co., and who organized, managed, and eventually owned Kinfolks outright. The other “kinfolks” who founded the company were his cousins Tint Champlin of Cattaraugus Cutlery Co. and J. Russell Case of W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Co. These competitors saw a way to solve their supply issues in the outsourcing capacity offered by Kinfolks, and the company was founded on November 4, 1926.
The Kinfolks story is told through a series of short chapters on the company and the men behind it, interspersed with letters containing the personal reminiscences of several whose lives were directly connected, like Bill Platts and John Osborne Jr. There are chapters on Job Case, Russ Case, Tint Champlin, and Emerson Case; on the Kinfolks factory floor, Kinfolks during World War II, the closure of the Little Valley plant in November of 1957 and Kinfolks’ subsequent “resurrection” with Robeson Cutlery. There’s also a timeline summarizing key moments in the history of Kinfolks and the Case family.
Collectors will be particularly pleased to discover the four Kinfolks catalogs which are reprinted here in their entirety, from 1939, 1948, 1958 and 1960 (the latter two produced during the Robeson/Kinfolks “new era.”) Chapters on the identification and dating of Kinfolks knives and on Kinfolks anomalies and unanswered questions will also prove useful. There’s also information on odd products the company produced over the years (like the Kinfolks “Pop-O-Matic” popcorn popper), and even some Case family recipes.
Kinfolks Knives: A History of Cutlery and Cousins will be appreciated not only by those interested in Kinfolks Incorporated, but by anyone who would like to learn more of the history behind such related companies as Robeson, Cattaraugus, and the various Case related cutleries like Case Brothers and W.R. Case & Sons.
Kinfolks Knives: A History of Cutlery and Cousins
by Dean Case
Softcover, 164 pp.