This site is dedicated to the collecting of information concerning the Robeson Cutlery Company of Rochester, NY, its history, workers, and most especially, the pocket cutlery they manufactured.
If you collect Robeson or Terrier knives, possess any paper ephemera, catalogs, advertising or any knowledge of the company, I'd like to hear from you. If you possess especially nice near mint or mint knives, a knife of unusual pattern, or old knife boxes, I'd like to hear from you and to have a good quality photograph or scan of the knife or box to post on the site. Photo and informational credits will be gratefully acknowledged.
The history of the Robeson Cutlery Company was researched and published initially by Mr. Dewey and Mrs. Lavona Ferguson in The Romance of Collecting Cattaraugus, Robeson, Russell and Queen Cutlery. Bruce Voyles followed that with an extensive Robeson section of over four-hundred knives in the ABCA Price Guide to Antique Knives. In 1991, Jim Sargent asked that I contribute a Robeson section to his American Premium Guide to Knives & Razors. I photographed the knives I owned at the time, and they were published in Sargent's 4th edition. Jim included the historical information from the Fergusons' and Bruce Voyles' books. A larger section with more photographs of my knives was included in the 5th edition. I wrote a brief history for that edition, based mostly on anecdotal information, referring to the previous work of Mr. & Mrs. Ferguson and that of Bruce Voyles and attempted to explain the tang markings as I understood them at the time. Jim deleted the Robeson section from the most recent 6th edition due to space limitations.
By far, the most comprehensive and informative publication to date concerning the Robeson Cutlery Company is that of Mr. Tom Kalcevic in Knives Can Talk. The book contains the most detailed breakdown, dating and listing of Robeson's various tang stampings I've seen. Tom published the book himself, but it is no longer available from him. He did publish a second book, Robeson Collectables and Rarities in 2012, and it is available and can be obtained by E-mailing him at email@example.com or by calling (716) 226-3369. I strongly recommend Tom's books to anyone with even a passing interest in Robeson cutlery. I find them to be an invaluable resource. Tom had access to Robeson Cutlery factory workers and other employees still living in or around Rochester and Perry, New York, original factory records, the local library's newspaper files and City Directories, and to Mrs. Emerson Case, the spouse of the last president of the company, and to his son. As he gathered new information or photographs, or revised previous information, Tom sent that to everyone who had purchased the books, including color photos of any new knives he had obtained that might add anything to the book.
How I Became A Robeson Knife Collector
(The Long Version Begins Here)
My name is Charlie Noyes. I collect pocketknives, ephemera, and other memorabilia of the Robeson Cutlery Company of Rochester, NY. I also work at playing old time mountain banjo on an almost one hundred year old five string made in England by Clifford Essex just after the turn of the nineteenth century.
I was born in 1947. When I was a boy, my Dad was a "gun trader". We traveled to many gun shows around the Southeast to set-up and sell pistols and long guns. Dad's main intent during these trips was to make a little money. We did pretty well, as we started out with an initial two-hundred-fifty dollar commitment and never invested another dime of household money into the gun business. On the contrary, we supplemented the household budget with the gun money.
We also managed to assemble two nice gun collections in the process. Dad had a liking for old break-top revolvers, the guns of his youth. We bought and collected really nice examples from many different manufacturers; Iver Johnson, Harrington & Richardson, Forehand & Wadsworth, Merwin & Hurlbert, Hopkins & Allen and of course, Smith & Wesson. Eventually, this collection became most predominantly populated with S&W's.
I really developed an interest in the Smith & Wessons, and began to gather a good deal of historical information about the company. Eventually, we sold all but the Smith's and concentrated our efforts on them alone. We assembled a really nice collection of the smaller revolvers and two or three of the more affordable larger framed third model pieces. We could never afford the really dear Americans, Russians, or Schofields, nor the really early No.1's nor the No.2 Army models, but what we did have constituted an award winning collection.
While Dad and I were doing the gun show circuit, I was only ten to about seventeen years of age. When I located a nice revolver, I had to get Dad to make the purchases. It was difficult, at times, to make him see the advantages of paying more for a collectible piece than he would have for something to resell.
My Mom developed a serious illness that required us to sell the collection in order to cover her medical costs. The care that was partially paid for with that money provided her with eighteen additional years of life; a bargain in our estimation.
While we were trading guns, I bought one or two pocketknives at each gun show or trade day we attended. That was during the late fifties to mid-sixties. I eventually accumulated a wooden cigar box filled with mint knives.
I finished high school in 1965, attended college for two years and in 1967, enlisted in the United States Army. I volunteered for and successfully completed the qualification course for Army Special Forces. I became an Army Special Forces Soldier in October, 1968, serving firstly in the 6th Special Forces Group (Abn) at Fort Bragg, NC on a special weapons and munitions team, and then in the 5th Special Forces Group (Abn) in the Republic of Viet Nam in nineteen-sixty-nine and nineteen-seventy.
I was the Medical Specialist and then the Medical Supervisor of an A-Team on the Cambodian border, eighty-five miles north of Saigon. There were twelve American SF team members, two SF B-57, Project Gamma personnel, twelve South Vietnamese LLDB special forces team members, and several hundred Montagnard, Cambodian and Vietnamese Civilian Irregular Defense Group mercenaries and their dependents there. Our mission was to interdict and suppress infiltration of men and supplies from Cambodia into South Viet Nam. We were under intense pressure from the North Vietnamese Army almost the whole time I was there. We kicked butt, too.
Bu Dop Special Forces Camp, November, 1969.
L-R: My own young self, MSG Andy Anderson with Clyde, the monkey, Specialist 5 Cahill, SSG McLain and the Fabulous Ms. Martha Raye. Ms. Raye adopted Special Forces during the Viet Nam War, and we adopted her. She was an honorary colonel in Special Forces, and was even jump qualified.
Ms. Raye (Maggie, to us) visited Special Forces Camps all over South Viet Nam during the war. There were only fourteen Americans at Bu Dop. Ms. Raye flew in early in the day, and did not leave until almost dark. She spent all day with fourteen men. We talked about anything and everything. We played cards. We drank. She drank more. I have absolutely no idea what I had just said to her to make her laugh so hard. It must have been funny, though. God bless people like Martha Raye. Her home in California was always open to any Special Forces Soldier passing through on their way to Viet Nam or back home.
When I came home, I went back to college and graduated as a Surgeons Assistant in September, 1972. I've worked in adult and congenital cardiovascular, cardiac transplantation, thoracic and peripheral vascular surgery since that time.
(The Short Version Begins Here)
Sometime around 1988, when my whole world seemed to be work alone, my wife, Sarah, told me I needed a hobby. At about the same time I was advised my old cigar box of knives had value. Two of them were strawberry bone handled Robesons with book values of one-hundred-fifty and two-hundred dollars. I had paid three dollars fifty cents each for them at a gun and tackle shop outside Decatur, AL in the late fifties. I will never forget that shop. There were separate wooden bins along the wall filled with different patterns of strawberry bone Robesons and other brands, as well. I just bought the two, a daddy barlow and a two blade 088 congress pattern. I wish I'd been blessed at the time with more foresight and had less acute hindsight now. I also had a Queen WinterBottom bone swell center folding hunter, and a Case XX 6250 toenail with the greatest bone I've ever seen. My Dad got that one for me and paid seven dollars for it. I still have it.
As I already had two nice examples of the brand, I started collecting Robeson knives, and also Case ten dot knives, as they were eighteen years old at that time and seemed a wise investment, and John Primble knives, as Belknap Hardware had just gone out of business and there would be no more.
After a bit, I had a significant accumulation of Robesons, thirty-six Case ten dots, and eighteen Primbles. I decided to narrow the focus of my collecting, so I sold all the ten dots and Primbles to Jim Sargent and put that money into Robesons. I've been collecting Robeson pocketknives now since 1988, along with some interesting Robeson memorabilia and knives made by Robeson, but marked otherwise, like Terrier, Continental, Globe, OVB, and Fulton.
I've displayed the collection at the Oregon Knife Collectors Association show in Eugene, Oregon, several National Knife Collectors Association shows around the SouthEast, and at the Great Southern Knife Show in Marietta, Georgia. That show was organized jointly by the Flint River Knife Club and the Chattahoochee Cutlery Club. Both those clubs are in the greater Atlanta, Georgia area. The Chattahoochee Cutlery Club is the oldest continuously functioning knife club, having been founded in 1973. The club's website can be accessed at http://www.chattahoocheecutleryclub.com/.
I had the idea of starting this website in order to put the collection in a large arena, to make it available for widespread viewing, to find others with an interest in Robeson cutlery, and to possibly interest others in the great hobby of knife collecting in general.
If this site sparks an interest in you for knife collecting, and you'd like to know more, contact The National Knife Collectors Association.
While this site is under construction, I will be adding information and photographs related to the Robeson Cutlery Company, its history, product lines, and pocketknives.
Be patient, it is an arduous task.
To contact me to ask a question, make a comment, or to offer information or submit a photo of a nice Robeson or Terrier knife, just E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org I'll respond as quickly as possible.