History of the Winchester Knife

By Helen Holzer ; Updated April 12, 2017
Hunting knife

The Winchester Arms Company, manufacturer of the famous Winchester rifles, expanded into producing knives in 1919. Its first plants were at the Eagle Knife Company in New Haven, Connecticut, and the Napanoch Knife Company in Napanoch, New York. Eagle was known for its modern production techniques and mass assembly lines, while Napanoch was more renowned for craftsmanship.

Manufacturing

Winchester’s knife motto became knives “as good as the gun.” In 1922, Winchester merged with a hardware company in St. Louis and became the Winchester-Simmons Company. The merged company also produced a brand called KEEN KUTTER. After the dissolution of the merger, Simmons no longer did any manufacturing, but did the marketing for Winchester.

Discontinued

With the proliferation of other knife companies in the 1930s, prices dropped and the quality of Winchester knives began to suffer. By early 1942, Winchester ceased production of knives and entered into other contracts with the military during World War II.

Significance

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, a Germany company put the name Winchester on inexpensive knives that had no association with the original company. Winchester later authorized manufacture of knives in the late ‘80s by a company named Blue Glass Cutlery. Many of the company's early knives are collectors' items.

About the Author

Helen Holzer is a veteran journalist who began writing in 1972 and has lived all over the country. She has written and edited on nearly every topic for major daily newspapers and other publications. She has also been a book reviewer and currently lives in the Pacific Northwest. She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Minnesota.