Western Cutlery's facilities in Boulder, Colorado, carried on founder Charles W. Platts's tradition of fine knifemaking for 23 years after the company was absorbed by the Coleman Corporation of Wichita, Kansas. Western knives remained in production until the last owner, Camillus Cutlery of New York, closed its doors during a United Steel Workers strike in 2007.

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Western Knife Company History

Founder

Western Cutlery traced its beginnings to the Platts & Sons Cutlery Company, established in 1896 in Gowanda, New York, by Charles W. Platts, an immigrant knife maker from Sheffield, England. Platts spent nearly thirty years as supervisor of Northfield Knife Company in Northfield, Connecticut, before beginning the family enterprise. Platts pocket knives were a success and the company moved to Eldridge, Pennsylvania in 1897. After Charles Platts's death in 1900, the sons continued in the family business until 1905 when H.N. Platts bought out his brothers and moved the company to Bradford, Pennsylvania.

Moving West

In 1911, successful businessman H.N. Platts moved to Boulder, Colorado, intending to take advantage of the booming western knife market. H.N.'s new enterprise, Western States Cutlery and Manufacturing Company, began in a new two story brick building in the small town of 9,000 people, with a work force led by skilled craftsmen who had worked for H.N. back east. Known locally as "the Cutlery," Western States was one of the first factories in Boulder.

Western States

Prospering from 1911 well into the 1980s, Western States developed two early trademarks, Western and West-cut. The pocket knife remained the company's staple product until 1930 when Western patented a unique double tang sheath knife. These rugged belt knives also featured aluminum end knobs in a pattern that eventually became the standard of the American cutlery industry.

WWII

Pressed into military production soon after the Pearl Harbor attack, Western manufactured a broader range of knives for the military market, using a wider variety of materials due to the huge demand. Western's military knives, which substituted iron, steel or even plastic for scarce brass and aluminum, were issued to field troops and sailors and were essential gear in airmen's survival kits.

Postwar Problems

Continuing to expand and diversify through the boom years of the 1950s and 1960s, Western developed new lines of stainless steel pocket and utility knives, synthetic substitutes for organic components like stag horn, and in 1970 introduced the Westmark custom Bowie sheath knife. Acquired by Coleman in 1984, Western was sold to Camillus Cutlery in 1991. After drastic wage reductions were rejected by USW workers in 2007, Camillus closed down operations and production of Western and Westmark knives ended.