The knife-making industry goes back many centuries in the past. In fact, humans have been making knives since the discovery of metals. These priceless tools were used as protection from predators or wild animals and to hunt for food.
It wasn't until the late 19th century that knife-making carved a special place of its own in the tool industry. Retro knife collectors look for old blades made by companies that started during this time. Most reliable knife makers were also established at the turn of the 1900s or a little earlier. Household names and knives like the Schrade Walden fish knife, among many others, had their origins from this bygone age.
History of the Schrade Brand
The Schrade name came from Sheffield, England, like many cutlery companies in its heyday. It was first established as the New York Press Button Knife Company by George Schrade in 1892. More than a decade later, he sold his shares to the Walden Knife Company and built a fresh start in the knife-making business. This was the birth of Schrade Cutlery Company in Walden, New York.
Schrade developed his inventions further and went to Solingen, Germany, another famous knife-making center in Europe. Then, in the 1920s, he repurchased his shares from the Walden Cutlery Company.
Unfortunately, George Schrade died in 1940, causing his sons to sell the Schrade Cutlery Company to Boker Knife Company in New Jersey. In 1946, it was again sold to the Imperial Knife Associated Companies, where it became the household Schrade Walden Cutlery Company Inc.
Schrade Walden Vintage Folding Fish Knife
Pocket knives can be great fish knives. The Schrade Walden Company specialized in making portable knives that consisted of these handy tools. Switchblades and folding knives are convenient choices to add to your fishing toolbox as they are considerably smaller and easier to maneuver compared to fixed knives.
Before the switchblade and pocket knife gained infamy from mobsters and gangs, it was considered safe alternatives to the traditional knife. Its popularity prompted Schrade Walden to create two iconic knife series: the Old Timer and Uncle Henry.
Old Timer Knives
When you look for an Imperial fish knife, you'll most likely find resources from the Old Timer knife series by Schrade Walden. The cutlery company started producing Old Timers in 1959 and kept manufacturing them until it closed its doors in 2004.
The Old Timer series can easily be recognized because of its classic look. When you think about switchblades, you’ll probably picture an Old Timer design. This knife series has been so embedded in American culture that everyone knows what Old Timer knives look like, even without knowing its name.
Over the course of several decades, Schrade Walden produced many Old Timer knives. Here are a few notable pieces in the series:
Old Timer Senior Folding Pocket Knife 8OT
This three-bladed pocket knife is the second design made by Schrade Walden for the Old Timer series. The OT in the name stands for Old Timer, and the knife also has the typical Old Timer engraving in its handle. This multipurpose knife is complete with a spey, a clip, and a sheepsfoot blade.
Old Timer knives also have a characteristic handle design. Its bolsters holding the knife parts together are made of nickel silver. The handles also have brass pins that give it a minimalist but classic look.
Old Timer 34OT Middleman
The 34OT Middleman was one of the most popular designs in the series. It was first made in 1964 but was commonly called the Middleman in 1971. The term was coined due to its size. The 34OT knives are smaller than the Senior 8OT design but bigger than the Junior Folding Knife, hence the name Middleman.
This design features a 3.3-inch handle that houses three blades like the Senior 8OT. It is very portable and convenient to carry around. It also showcases the traditional Old Timer marks: nickel bolsters and brass pins.
Old Timer 108OT Junior Folding Pocket Knife
As portability goes, the Junior 108OT checks the whole list. It is the smallest pocket knife compared to the knives mentioned above. It may be small, but it is just as versatile and multipurpose.
There are also three blades in the Junior 108OT together with the usual nickel and brass fasteners. The Junior 108OT's most remarkable feature, though, is its size. This knife pattern was even featured in the 55th anniversary set, along with the Senior 8OT knife.
Uncle Henry Knives
Another notable knife series from Schrade Walden is the Uncle Henry knives. This series was named after Henry Baer, the man who established the Schrade Walden Knife Company. Uncle Henry knives are also considered vintages in the knife industry.
Old Timer and Uncle Henry knives were produced roughly around the same time. The differences between the two series are considerable, however. Taylor Brands LLC jumped on the bandwagon of the two knife series' popularity and rehashed vintage folding fish knife patterns when it acquired the Schrade Walden Company after 2004. Here are some Uncle Henry knives to compare:
Uncle Henry Fishing Knife: SC-1UH
As a fish cutting knife, the SC-1UH is probably the most convenient to use. It is a pocket knife that virtually takes no space in a fishing toolbox. It is the best knife for cutting fish with its clip point blade and scaler blade with a hook disgorger at the end.
The knives in the Uncle Henry series have a distinctive handle design made from Drelin or Staglon, mimicking deer antlers in both looks and feel. Like Old Timers, Uncle Henry knives also have nickel bolsters and brass pins. They are also made of high-carbon stainless steel that keeps an edge for a long time.
Uncle Henry 897UH Premium Stockman Knife
The Stockman is another iconic design of the Uncle Henry series. Like most knives in the series, the Stockman also features a highly recognizable antler-looking handle with the typical fasteners.
This knife design has three blades, with the longest at 3.90 inches. A drop blade, pen blade, and sheepsfoot blade are great for doing a lot of things, making it a good fishing companion. When closed, the Stockman is only 3.56 inches long, which makes it very practical for outdoor activities.
How To Date Your Schrade Walden Fish Knife
A Schrade Walden knife values significantly in the collection world. As a result, knife enthusiasts are always on the lookout for vintage Schrade Walden blades. Even though the new owners reproduced the classic knife designs after the company’s shutdown in 2004, vintages are still in demand. The reproduction, though, can make the verification of vintage knives trickier. There are two easy ways to know a vintage Schrade Walden knife:
Tang Stamp Clues
Like many knife-making brands, Schrade Walden also branded the tang of their knives with the year it has been made. The year of manufacturing is in the tang base near the handle, and most experts base their assumption of the knife's age on it.
Another piece of information that can be found in the tang of the blade is the name of the company that made it. It is common knowledge that Schrade Walden has a colorful ownership history. The name of the company also changed a couple of times. Collectors determine the age of the knife based on the company name engraved on the tang.
The Schrade brand had extensive advertising in the past. These advertisements written on old magazines or other printed papers detailed the knives extensively. Collectors consult these old print ads to help determine the age of the knife as well.
Schrade Walden is a signature brand in the knife-making industry. Thanks to the current owners of the trademark, old designs are now being reproduced with modern methods and materials. Outdoor enthusiasts and antique collectors now have a new reason to celebrate!