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Author Topic: Camillus , A. Kastor & Bros. knives  (Read 65568 times)
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« on: February 09, 2007, 04:20:58 AM »

     I'm like anyone else. I have my reason for collecting a particular brand. And, it makes sense to me or at least justifys it. I find the Camillus/Kastor company to have an interesting and long history. The many brand names associated with the firm are intertwined in the history of cutlery and is very much a part of American history. Kastor was mostly an import company and later became both an importer and knife manufacturer. They had dozens of brand names under trademark and many patents to their credit. Both Kastor and Camillus names appeared on U S. made and import knives. They made knives under hundreds of brand names for hardware stores, wholesalers, jobbers, distributors, organizations, department stores, other cutlery manufacturers, and more. There are even reports of them having knives made to their specs for them.
     During WW1 and WW2 they made millions of knives for the U.S. military and our allies. Those knives turn up all over the world in collections. They are cherished as much by collectors in other countries as their foreign knives are cherished by us.
     No one could ever collect an example of every knife they made. It is a challenge to find all of just one of their more common brands. The variety is mind-boggling.
     Another reason the brand is popular is that the values range from dirt cheap to incredibly expensive. There is a specific collection possibility for anyone. You can collect knives that were sold by the firm in your area, a particular pattern, a certain handle material, or any of dozens of collection types.
     You can't just buy a book that tells you all there is to know about this firm. There is much yet to be discovered. And, I enjoy the challenge. I hope others will join me in this quest to unravel the mysteries yet known. If you are looking for a great hobby, or you are already a knife collector needing a challenge that is affordable, fun, and full of variety, consider collecting Camillus and Kastor knives while sharing the experience with others of similar interests.


« Last Edit: February 18, 2007, 03:21:59 AM by radicat » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2007, 03:37:00 AM »

     On Oct. 1, 1876 A. Kastor & Co. was formed by Adolph Kastor.
     In 1885 Germania Cutlery Works was opened in Solingen, Germany by Nathan Kastor.
     In 1888 A. Kastor & Bros. was formed by four brothers adopting the "Clover Brand".
     They imported the English brands- EBRO, XLNT, Rivington, and others. They imported the German brands- Koester's, Germania Cutlery Works,Imperial Razor (Cutwell), Morley, Wadsworth, Duane, Parker, Majestic, Argyle, Corliss, and others. "Cutwell" was the very first Kastor brand name. The first of many.
     In 1902 Kastor, purchased a small cutlery manufacturing firm in Camillus , N.Y. from Charles Sherwood. That was the beginning of Camillus Cutlery Company. Imported and U.S. made knives were under both Kastor and Camillus names.
     In 1906 Camillus introduced the "Crossed Swords" brand trademark
     During 1914-1918, leading up to and during WWI, Camillus and Kastor provided military knives for the U.S., Canada, Red Cross, and the Dutch.
     In 1923 Camillus began providing knives to the Sears Roebuck company under the brands- Sta-Sharp, Dunlap, and Kwik-Kut.
     In 1924 Camillus began "Stainless Cutlery Company" brand using stainless steel blades.
     In 1934 Camillus began the "Kent" trademark on knives for F. W. Woolsworth.
     By 1938 Camillus was using the brands-Streamline, Camco, Syracuse Knife Co., Mumbly Peg, High Carbon Steel, U.S.A., and others.
     During the 1930's Camillus made hunting knives that evolved into their military knives during WWII.
     During WWII Camillus was a major supplier of military knives for the U.S. and our allies.
     At the end of the war the Kastor name was dropped.
     In 1963 Camillus fell under the ownership of the daughters of Albert M. Baer, who had been associated with Camillus since 1922, Ulster since 1942, and Imperial since 1947.
     1968-1984 Camillus make contract knives for Buck Knives.
     Through the years, Camillus has made bicentennial, commemorative, and presentation knives for many occasions, enjoying the respect of the cutlery industry. 
     These are just the highlights of the history of a company that has served its country well.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2007, 03:29:17 AM by radicat » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2007, 12:53:19 AM »

     Collecting Camillus and Kastor knives can seem confusing and frusrating at times with the many name brands that they used. It is often diffucult to know if a brand name is one of their trademarked  brands or if it is one that was agreed upon under contract with a retailer, wholesaler, or even a company using knives as an advertising tool. Some knives believed to be Camillus/Kastor had no markings to indicate it. Both Camillus and Kastor imported from England, Germany, and even Poland. Most imports were by Kastor however. The Kastor family had their own factory in Germany and it provided many of the early knives, while they were making knives in Camillus, NY to fill the many contracts of various kinds.
     You don't want to add a knife to your collection and then later find out that it is not what the person you got it from thought it was. Nor do you want to mislead anyone else. That takes some of the fun out of the hobby.
     I have been gathering information on these brands from whatever source that I can. Sometimes I may only have a note that I made when I came across a bit of information. I will not claim that my information is all correct or that any part of it can't be challenged. I haven't been privvy to the kind of records that a good researcher would call proof. I can only hope that the person that passed this information on had some reason to believe it to be accurate.
     You may have been doing the same. I will begin to offer my information here as fast as I can and to add any new information that I collect in the future. I encourage anyone that has additional material to also share it with others. If my data is questionable, please reply to this topic to give whatever comment you'd like. I want to be as accurate as possible, with your help.
     If I have real doubt about any information because I have already seen conflicts, I may hold off posting it until I can learn more, rather than carelessly throw it out there. In any case I hope this is helpful to you all.
     When I can get to it, I will provide a list of some of my sources to help others with their research. Again, I welcome any contribution you can make, whether it's to provide tips or tell me I'm wrong.                                     
     If you would prefer, you can send me a message here on Knife Talk rather than post a reply. So, bear with me, this will be a work in progress for some time.
     This is a cross-reference type listing. To make it easier to find something it may be listed alphabetically in more than one place, but I will refer to the other listing when there is more information there. This is necessary because of the variety of marks that a given brand may have used. If I give a stamping, brand name, or company name first, I will provide the associated information nearby. Keep in mind that when a firm sold a brand name not made by them, that brand name may appear on knives made by several different cutlery manufacturers. Large hardware distributors and cutlery suppliers are good examples of this practice.

Alfred Williams     see Williams, Alfred

America's Best                                    Moore Handley Hdw. Co.,Birmingham, AL
                                                       US- Camillus                 ?-1962

Anheuser Busch, St. Louis, MO                                                                                                         
                                      German import- Kastor              1880-1914
                                                        US- Camillus          1932-1948
                                      "Adolphus Busch"   Nathan Kastor, Germania Cutlery Works  ?-1932
Argyle Cutlery Co.   
                                       German import- Kastor                  c1910                                 
Belknap Hdw. Co.,Louisville, KY
                                    "John Primble"              Camillus, Boker, Utica, Schrade
                                    "John Primble" India Steel Works" Sheffield/Wolstenholm      import Kastor?
                                    "John Primble" (with star)                Camillus ?-1965
                                     "John Primble East India Steel Works
                                     "J. Primble Belknap Germany"   old stamp
                                     "Primble"   old stamp
                                     "John Primble Belknap Hdwe. & Mfg. Co."
                                     "John Primble Belknap Inc.                     Schrade
                                     "John Primble India Steel Works Prussia"
                                     "JOHN, PRIMBLE, I.S.W."          c1913 per Belknap catalog

                                     Also sold
                                     John Russell

Buck                              San Diego/El Cajon, CA

                                     contract- Camillus                         1968-1984
                                    Model 301 - premium stockman
                                    Model 303 Cadet - junior stockman

                                    Model 305 Lancer - premium pen

                                    Model 315 Yachtsman- rigger's knife

                                    Model 321 Bird Knife

Buster Brown Shoe Co.      St. Louis, MO



Camco                                                                  Camillus brand   1930's-?
                                                             "Camco USA"
                                                             "Camco, Mumbly Peg"

"Camillus  (underlined), New York, USA"            recent

"Camillus Cutlery Company, Camillus, NY, USA"   1902-1945       

"Camillus, New York, NY"                                1902-?                       

"Camillus, NewYork, USA"                                c1945

'Camillus Sword Brand, NY, USA"                     

Catskill Knife Co., NY                                                Camillus brand    1930's

Clover Brand, Clover                                  Germany import brand- Kastor and Camillus     1888-1941   
                                                                                   US- Camillus, Syracuse,NY     1941-1942
                                         "Clover Brand"  registered 1906

Coast Cutlery Co.                                                                                 1935-1942

Coca Cola Bottling Co.                                          Germany import- Kastor  1920's-1940's
                                                                                        US- Camillus 1930's-1940's
                                      "Coca Cola Bottling Co." 
                                      "Drink Coca Cola In Bottles"
                                      "Have A Coke"
                                      "Tome Coca Cola Helada"
                                      "Drink Coca Cola Ice Cold"
                                      "The Coca Cola Bottling Co."                     

Collins Bros.   (Walter & Michael) Atlanta, GA            Limited edition by Camillus 1970-1973
                                            became Bowen Knife Co. 1973

Corliss Cutlery                                                   Germany import- Kastor
                                      "Corliss Cut. Ger."

Corning Knife Co.                                                               Camillus brand   1930's

Cornwall Knife Co.                                                              Camillus brand   1930's
                                    "Cornwall Knife Co., New York, NY"

Craftsman                         Sears Roebuck                          Camillus retail brand 1926-?

Crosman Blades                  a division of Coleman Co.                 Camillus wholesale brand 
Crossed Sword, Sword                                            Camillus brand                 1902-?
                                            "Sword"  1906-1942             registered 1906
                                            "Sword Brand"  1942-?                         

Cutwell                                                         Kastor import brand                 1880's-1890's
                                                               made by Imperial Razor, Germany
                                  Kastor's first brand name

Diamond Edge             Shapleigh Hdw. Co.                Camillus wholesale brand   c1940-1960
                                         "D. E. (in diamond) Shapleigh Hdw. Co. St. Louis MO."
                                         "Norvell-Shapleigh Hdw. Co. St. Louis MO"

Duane Cutlery Co.                                                Germany import- Kastor     c1910

Dunlap                   Sears Roebuck                        Camillus retail brand           c1923-1930's

EBRO                   Alfred Williams-maker                Sheffield, England import- Kastor     1900-1946 

Enderes, Original                                     tool manufacturer             US- Camillus      1926-?

Fiarmount Cutlery Co., NY                                                             Camillus brand    1930's

Farrugut Cutlery Co., NY                                                               Camillus brand    1920's

Forged, USA                 Sears Roebuck                             Camillus retail brand         1930's

Germania Cutlery Works, Ger.              Solingen-Ohligs, Germany    manufacturer        1885-c1938
                                                       owned by Kastor, operated by Nathan Kastor

Hibbard, Spencer, Bartletts, & Co., Chicago, IL 1855-1960
                                                 became True Value Hdw. Co.
                                            known brands by New York Knife, Ulster, Utica, & Camillus
                                            O.V.B. (Our Very Best)   Camillus
                                            True Value
                                            Black Diamond
                                            Hib Spe Bar 

High Carbon Steel, USA                  Sears Roebuck                 Camillus retail brand    1930's

Holub Operations, Sycamore, IL           electrical supply                  Camillus             1970's

Imperial Razor                                              Germany import-Kastor                 1880's-1890's
                                  "Imperial Razor (with a star)"
                                   "Cutwell" first Kastor brand

John Primble           see Belknap Hdw. Co.

Kastor, A, & Bros.

Keen Kutter                    E. C. Simmons Hdw. Co.   c1902-1923   Camillus
                                                                      1923-1929    Winchester
                                                                      1929-1940     Camillus
                                          Shapleigh Hdw. Co.   1940-1960    Camillus

Kent, N.Y.C.                            F. W. Woolworth             Camillus retail brand            1931-1955

Koester, J. (Jacob), & Sons                                           Germany importer
                                                "Koester's"       part of Kastor

Kwik-Kut                Sears Roebuck& Co.                           Camillus retail brand         c1939
                                           '"Kwik-Kut, USA"  1921-26

Majestic Cutlery Co.                                                  Germany import- Kastor          c1910

Marshal Wells Hdw. Co., Duluth, MN 1888-1963       
                                                      "M. W. H. Co."

Moore Handley Hdw. Co., Birmingham, AL  1883-1962
                                           brands sold
                                           America's Best          Camillus
                                            other mfrs. were New York Knife, Boker, Schrade

Morley, W. H., & Sons                          Austria/Germany import- Kastor                            c1913-1927

Mumbly Peg, USA                                                           Camillus brand                               1937-?
                                                   note-Winchester had a Mumbly Peg 1920-1929

Primble, John              see Belknap Hdw. Co.

Robeson Cutlery Co.                                                           contract- Camillus
                                       "Robeson, Germany" ??

Rivington Works, Sheffield, England                      see Alfred Williams

SWCC-       see Simonds (Simmons) Worden White Co., Dayton, OH

Sabre, USA                                                               Camillus
                              "Sabre (in script) USA"  on reverse "SABRE MONARCH"                   c1960
Sears Roebuck & Co., Chicago, IL                                            retail brands Camillus
                                            Sears, Henry, & Co.                      1865-1878
                                            Sears, Henry, & Son 1865              1878-1959
                                            Sears Roebuck & Co. Chicago, Naponoch Knife Co., N.Y. c1900-1902
                                            Sears Roebuck & Co.   on tang        1886-1902
                                            Sears                                          1991

                                            T.T.C.      Tip Top ?, Camillus ?
                                            Sta-Sharp    Camillus
                                            Dunlap         Camillus
                                            Kwik-Kut      Camillus
                                            Craftsman    Camillus

Sevin                            pesticide co.      advertisement                              Camillus
Shapleigh, A. F., Hdw. Co., St. Loius, MO

Simonds Mfg. Co. (Simons Saw Co.)

Simonds (Simmons) Worden White Co., Dayton, OH


Stainless Cutlery Co., NYC


Sword Brand

Syracuse Knife Co., NY

Thompsom Center Arms, Rochester, NH

Tip Top

Van Camp Hardware & Iron Co., Indianapolis, IN

Wadsworth, A. W., & Sons


Williams, Alfred


Woolsworth, F.W.




« Last Edit: February 23, 2007, 02:05:23 AM by radicat » Logged
Ed Fowler
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« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2007, 04:06:37 AM »

You are putting in some real work putting this informatin together. I congradulate your dedication. It takes a lot of time to build knowledge, at least now there is a record where others can find it.

Ed Fowler High Performance Knives
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« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2007, 05:38:46 AM »

Thanks Ed, I enjoy it. I'm in the process of moving my shop, so my knifemaking is in limbo for a while. This will fill in the gaps and quell the nervous twitches. I'd sure like to see the knives in your collection that have inspired you through the years. Like the Ruana.  Take care.
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« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2007, 04:41:12 PM »

Thank-you for the information radicat. I found it most interesting. I recently acquired this Camillus. I believe it is a WWII army model. I really like the bone scales and the overall solid feel of the knife.


Rust Never Sleeps s-k
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« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2007, 02:45:13 AM »

She is a tribute to the quality and functionality of the early Camillus line. The scales are in fantastic shape
for a such a knife that usually gets beat up badly.    It can only increase in value. Thanks, Clay
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« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2007, 12:30:14 PM »

Thank for the reply Clay. I don't have many vintage US made knives but I am impressed with the quality of this one. I understand that there is a three-blade version of this type of knife that is rare. I'll keep my eyes open. Cheers, s-k

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« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2007, 05:19:10 PM »

Hi... this is the latest addition to my collection. My intitial research suggests that this may be the sailor's raft knife. Perhaps the rounded end was designed for use in life rafts; if dropped it wouldn't puncture the raft. The scales are jigged hardwood and the bail steel. It has the four line Camillus stamp. Does anyone have any further information for me. It will be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Rust Never Sleeps s-k
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« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2007, 12:32:37 AM »

Smiling-knife, I've seen this "Sailor's Rope Knife" with various bone scales and smooth wood, but not in a jigged wood. I have seen Camillus knives from that era with a jigged composite handle material.

The 4-line stamping was used from 1902 through 1945-46. Your knife having a steel bail makes me believe it is a very old one. Nice knife in great shape. The sailor would lay the blade across a rope and strike the spine with a pin or mallet to cut it.       Clay
« Last Edit: August 01, 2007, 12:36:55 AM by radicat » Logged
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« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2007, 04:02:08 PM »

Thanks very much for the information Clay.  Grin

Rust Never Sleeps s-k
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« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2007, 04:57:03 PM »

This little figural/advertising knife has all the whistles and bells for a Camillus collectible.
 59. J. KOESTER?S SONS (BEE STAMP) ROBERTS, JOHNSONS, RAND SHOE, ST. LOUIS, MO. c. 1920-30?S, 2 3/4" FIGURAL SHOE KNIFE, with single flat ground clip blade, with advertising information stamped on the front of the blade. The blade is about full, expertly cleaned to near mint. The scales are pretty ivory appearing celluloid in the shape of a shoe with "MEN?S PATRIOT SHOE" on one side with "STAR BRAND SHOES ARE BETTER" stamped on the other side. EX++ $75.00

Older Pocket Knives          Portland Cutlery, home of Northwest Knives and Collectibles.
Also take a look at their hard to find books.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2007, 05:01:22 PM by radicat » Logged
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« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2007, 08:35:25 PM »

Hi everyone. Here is an old Anheuser Busch knife. I believe made by Kastor Bros pre WWI. Unfortunately the stanhope is now just a hole. The blades all snap nicely and I like the design. I am an avid corkscrew collector too so this encompasses both of my addictions.


Rust Never Sleeps s-k
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« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2007, 02:02:16 AM »

I do like that knife, thanks.

Ed Fowler High Performance Knives
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« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2010, 06:38:00 PM »

I'd like to make contact with you Radicat- please email me  I'm working on an article for CutleryNewsJournal about Mumble Peg/Camco and would like to ask you a few questions please.

"...having as much fun as when I was a kid collecting rocks."
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