Western Cutlery Company started production in 1896. The knife designs survived two ownership changes in its long history before the final owners, Camillus Cutlery, went out of business in 2007. Western knives are outdoor knifes used for hunting and fishing, and early models and those used by soldiers in World War II, enjoy significance with knife collectors. Western knives are found in a variety of shapes and materials. As a result, their identification usually comes down to the company’s tang stamp found on each knife.
Locate your knife’s tang stamp. The tang is the metal part of the knife that joins the blade and the handle. Therefore, the tang stamp is an imprint found on the tang that indicates manufacturer and style information.
Examine the stamp for the word "Western." Western’s tang stamp evolved throughout the years. However, the unifying feature was the incorporation of the word "Western." These stamps also help identify the manufacturing date because Western used different stamps during different time periods. For example, the first Western tang stamp included the phrase "Western States" and "Boulder, Colo." This information was incorporated into the stamp until 1961 when the stamp reverted to "Western U.S.A." . Variations of this stamp were used until 2007, with the only break coming when the brand was owned by Coleman from 1984 to 1990 and the subsequent "Coleman Western" tang stamp.
Examine the knife for a blade stamp. From 1911 to 1942 Western knives also incorporated a blade stamp or etching along the blade. Between 1911 and 1928, the etching was composed of a tic-tac-toe- looking graphic with information in each section. A "W" in the upper left and an "S" in the upper right section stood for Western States. From 1928 to 1942, the blade stamp combined "Western States" with an etching of a buffalo head.
You may have to open all the blades on a multi-blade pocket knife before finding the tang stamp, as not all of the blades have it. However, the biggest blade on the knife is generally your best bet.
Some Western knife sheaths also incorporate the Western logo. However, do not just assume that the knife inside the sheath is a Western. Always look for a Western tang stamp.