Since 1904 Schrade has been the largest selling brand of cutlery in the United States, according to the brand’s current owner, Taylor Brands, LLC. At its peak, Imperial Schrade Corp. produced folding pocket knives, fixed blade knives for hunters and other outdoorsmen, lockbacks and multi-tools. This venerable American cutlery firm would have observed its 100th birthday in 2004, had the factory not closed shortly before the centennial celebration.
Schrade began as Schrade Cutlery Company, opening its doors in 1904 and starting out by producing cutlery with quality unique for its time. Imperial Knife Company — a separate firm — started business in 1916 in Providence, Rhode Island, manufacturing folding pocket knives. Ulster Knife Company and Imperial blended into one corporation much later in 1942, with the temporary mission of war knife production for the American military. Owner Alfred M. Baer purchased Schrade Cutlery after the war’s end and in 1946 renamed it the Schrade Walden Cutlery Corporation. As Schrade Walden, manufacturing moved to Ellenville, New York in 1958. Albert Baer bought out all other stockholders in 1983 and as sole owner changed the name of the parent company to Imperial Schrade Corporation. All assets moved to Ellenville. Baer died in 1997 and his widow, Karla B. Baer, briefly held the reigns as company C.E.O. On July 30th, 2004, the Schrade facility finished its final production run and closed down for good. Taylor Brands, LLC., purchased the rights to the brand name and still produces knives in the Schrade patterns, but all current Schrade knives are made in China.
If you’re lucky enough to stumble across a new Schrade, still in the box on the dusty shelf of some old general store, you might find a certificate inside that makes it even more valuable. Schrade’s last production run included a statement of authenticity which summarized the company history and certified those knives as the last of their kind. Older Schrade knives certainly have potential as collectibles even without that documentation. Today’s Schrade’s are a different breed, built with the Schrade look but using cheaper synthetics for handle materials and using 400 series high carbon stainless steel blades. If it’s your first Schrade you should find it a good knife, serviceable and backed by a limited lifetime warranty. If you’re replacing an old Schrade you’ll notice the difference. But get over it, many Chinese companies do good work.
See all of our Schrade knife reviews below