RC Knives Robeson Cutlery

PO Box 500
Franklinville, NY  14737

Millard F. Robeson founded the company which bore his name in 1879 as a cutlery jobbing firm, operating from his home in Elmira, NY. Selling knives was, at first, a side-line but business grew. Robeson’s first storage area was his dresser drawers but, as additional space was needed, it overflowed into the closet and underneath the bed. Upon returning from a business trip and finding his cutlery inventory moved to the porch, he agreed with Mrs. Robeson that larger facilities were needed. They first came in the form of a new room added to the house, next a new building adjacent to the home, and finally a move to the New York town of Camillus.

After leasing the cutlery works in Camillus, Robeson employed about three dozen workers making knives. Their tenure at this factory lasted about four years, until 1898. Robeson had purchased an interest in Rochester Stamping Works and it became Robeson Rochester Corp. A move of the Robeson Cutlery Co. headquarters and manufacturing was made to Rochester and, about two years later, an additional location was found in Perry, New York.

In 1901, the trade name SHUREDGE was adopted for Robeson’s quality line of cutlery. After Millard Robeson’s death in 1903, his company remained although business declined. In 1940, the then-bankrupt company was purchased by Saul Frankel, a Rochester businessman. Frankel was not like Robeson, who had the knowledge and expertise for manufacturing high quality knives. But he was an excellent businessman and recognized his shortcomings. In order to seek success for his company, Frankel sought out and hired Emerson Case to serve as Robeson’s Vice-President and General Manager. Case reorganized the company and became its Vice President in 1948. Robeson continued to make knives until 1965 when Case retired.

The company had been purchased by Federal Cutlery, Inc. in 1964. In 1971, the Ontario Knife Co. bought Robeson and began making Robeson-brand pocketknives through their sister company, Queen Cutlery Co..

Robeson knives were stamped ROBESON CUTLERY CO. from 1894 until 1922. During the years of 1922 to 1977, the well-known stampings of Robeson Shuredge Rochester and ROBESON SUREDGE USA were used, and beginning in 1900 the trademark R.C./CO. was also used. A few Robeson knives will be found with a German stamping, indicating their country of manufacture

A trademark popular with collectors is the line of Robeson knives named POCKETEZE and identified by the shield name. Registered in 1914, the trademark meant that the blade backs were recessed below the knife handles, reducing their wear on pant pockets. MASTERCRAFT, another Robeson trademark, was used and these knives were also identified by shield marking. Etched on the blades of some Robeson knives are the words "Frozen Heat," indicating a tempering process developed in 1950 by Emerson Case.

Older Robeson knives are handled in green bone, brown bone, and a unique red bone referred to as strawberry bone. Of the handles used, strawberry bone was used later in the company’s manufacturing years. It was dropped from the line in the 1950s in favor of plastic or composition handles of a similar color. The last Robeson knives made had a darker delrin handle.

Although Robeson bone was and is quite popular, in its best days Robeson also handled knives in mother-of-pearl, genuine stag, and the various composition handle materials. The shortage of bone during World War II forced the company to use rough black composition handle materials.

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Robeson Cutlery Established 1879
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