W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Company is an American manufacturer of traditional pocketknives. The company originated in Little Valley, New York around the turn of the 20th century before relocating to its current home, Bradford, Pennsylvania, in 1905. The company’s namesake, William Russell Case, first made knives with his brothers under the name, Case Brothers Cutlery Company. His son, John Russell (‘Russ’) Case, worked as a salesman for his father’s company before founding W.R. Case & Sons.

The company’s roots extend back to 1889, when the Case brothers – William Russell (W.R.), Jean, John and Andrew Case, formerly of the Cattaraugus Cutlery Company – began selling cutlery from the back of a wagon in various small western New York villages. In January 1900, the brothers incorporated to form Case Brothers Cutlery Company.

Beginning with World War I, Case has made military knives for U.S. servicemen and women including the USMC’s standard Ka-bar knife and the V-42, a stiletto and fighting knife issued during World War II to the First Special Service Force (FSSF, aka Devil’s Brigade), a joint Canadian/American commando unit. During the 1965 flight of the ‘Molly Brown,’ astronauts Gus Grissom and John Young used special Case knives on a NASA space mission. The Case Company is currently owned by Zippo Manufacturing Company, another business based in Bradford.

Case knives are made with blades stamped from domestic steel and hardened using proprietary heat treatment methods. Knife handles are shaped using a variety of natural materials like Brazilian cattle bone, genuine India Stag, Buffalo horn, ancient Mammoth Ivory, Mother-of-Pearl, exotic hardwoods and precious stones. Brass, nickel, and silver metals are used to make the knives’ other component parts.

Many people collect Case knives as a hobby. This practice arose from the unique tang stamp dating systems employed by the company beginning in the late 19th century.

Several different types of steel are offered: Chrome Vanadium (CV) is a special formula of alloyed cutlery steel known for its ease of re-sharpening (CV blades require extra care; thin film of oil should be kept on the blade to maintain the polished finish of the steel). Case Tru-Sharp Surgical Stainless Steel (SS) is a high-carbon steel that offers excellent blade strength and corrosion resistance. Damascus (DAM) steels dating back to the Crusades, and is named for the famous Syrian city where some of the first man-made metals were traded publicly. It consists of thin layers of metal that are heated together to form a laminated solid. Designs take shape as layers are folded in then welded together by forging. BG42 is a domestic alloy steel. It is an aeronautics bearing-grade composition with added carbon and vanadium. 154-CM is an American-made stainless alloy. It combines three principal elements: carbon, chromium, and molybdenum. Added levels of carbon and chromium are also used. Re-sharpening can require extra effort, but is needed less often.


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