Old Hickory knives are true American classics. For centuries, they are renowned for their reliability, durability, and timeless design.
From carving a turkey to fileting a fish, Old Hickory knives have been used by generations of Americans. By dating such a knife, you can learn its material, history, production, and price. The experience can be fascinating. But how to date Old Hickory knives? It requires a combination of historical knowledge, careful observation, and a love for crafting knives.
For that purpose, we will explore more on dating Old Hickory knives so that you can understand the provenance and age of this beloved American classic.
- 1 A Brief About Old Hickory Knives
- 2 How to Date Old Hickory Knives – The Things to Consider
- 3 At a Glance: New vs. Old Hickory Knives
- 4 FAQs on How to Date Old Hickory Knives
- 4.1 What are some key characteristics to look for when dating old Hickory knives?
- 4.2 How can I tell the difference between different eras of Hickory knives?
- 4.3 What should I do if I suspect a Hickory knife is a fake or reproduction?
- 4.4 Are there any precautions I should take when purchasing an old Hickory knife?
- 5 Bottom Line
A Brief About Old Hickory Knives
It would be unbiased if we don’t introduce Old Hickory knives before talking about how to date them. Old Hickory Knives, which debuted in 1924, are the most prestigious product line still in continuous production. After working for “Ontario Knife Co.” for 12 years, James A. Chrestensen was named president in 1923. Then the first line of “Old Hickory” was started.
There is a reason why these knives are called “Old Hickory.” The seventh American president was Andrew Jackson (1767–1845). Due to his tenacity and obstinacy, he was given the appellation “Old Hickory.” In 1812, once the British were defeated in the Battle of New Orleans, this title was given by his allies.
Old Hickory kitchen utensils have been proudly created using handcrafted techniques for over 90 years, and they have proven to be the best carbon steel kitchen utensils available right now. These knives are produced in the USA and are proudly guaranteed a lifetime warranty.
Old Hickory knives have 1095 carbon steel blades that are extremely sharp and have superior edge retention than other stainless knives. A hardwood handle is attached to the blades using brass compression rivets.
Almost all of these knives feature authentic hickory wood handles and high-carbon steel blades. To keep the blades sharp, they are hand-tempered and ground. The handles are further flame burnt and burnished for a distinctive antique look.
How to Date Old Hickory Knives – The Things to Consider
There are some factors you need to keep into account for dating an Old Hickory knife. Although you may not know the year of establishment of your Old Hickory knife, you know the time period during which it was made.
The following information will help you identify the age of such knives, regardless of whether you are a seasoned collector or a casual user.
#01. Look for Identifying Marks
First, you should look for the “Old Hickory” stamp on the blade. If your knife has this stamp, it is likely from the 1940s or later. However, not all Old Hickory contains this stamp, particularly the older ones.
Besides the “Old Hickory” stamp, there can be other markings on the knife that can help with dating. For example, some knives may have stamps that indicate the originating place or the maker. These markings will give you clues to determine the age and origin of the knife.
Additionally, you can examine the quality of the marking or stamp. Old Hickory knives from different eras may have more distinct markings than others. This can indicate changes in the manufacturing process over time.
#02. Determine the Era
Old Hickory knives have gone through several changes throughout their production era. Taking a look at these changes can help you date these knives. Some of these eras of these knives include,
- Early Era (late 1800s – early 1900s): Typically, knives from this era have simple designs. They are equipped with wood handles and there are no stamps or markings on the blades.
- Transitional Era (1920s-1930s): During this era, the knives had a few small markings on the blades. These markings included the name and location of the manufacturer.
- Post-Transitional Era (1940s-1960s): Knives from this era saw the introduction of the “Old Hickory” stamp on the blades. Later, this became a consistent feature of those knives.
- Modern Era (1970s-present): Old Hickory knives produced in this era remained largely unchanged from the post-transition era. However, there have been some minor variations in design.
Please Note: It can be tricky to date Old Hickory knives based on era. Although newer designs and materials were introduced, these knives are often produced with older materials and designs.
#03. Check the Material’s Quality
Old Hickory knives are now made using different materials than they were many years ago. Therefore, you should evaluate your antique hickory knife’s quality. For the creation of these knives, the best cutlery-grade carbon steel is utilized.
The high-carbon steel used to make the Old Hickory knife is 1095. There has been substantial heat-treating and tempering done to carbon steel. You should also be aware that all of the components and raw materials utilized in its manufacture are domestically accessible.
Additionally, you must confirm that your knife is produced in the USA. The handles should also be examined. These knives have been produced with different handle materials, such as high-quality hardwood.
You can be certain that your knife is an antique hickory knife if all of the above is true. According to this information, your knife was manufactured between 1889 and 1924. The newer models are mostly produced in the 2000s with stainless steel components.
#04. Check for Changes in the Design
You can check the design to date Old Hickory knife. First, check the handle design as it tends to evolve over time. Older knives featured more simplistic and utilitarian handle designs than modern ones. Additionally, you can look for any changes in the shape and size of the tang (should be 12 inches thick) or rivet (should be 10.12 inches long), which can also indicate the knife’s age.
Moreover, you can consider design features like the shape and size of the blade. Originally, Old Hickory knives were made for kitchen use, but they have been produced with various shapes and sizes of blades. These include boning knives, cleavers, and paring knives. Therefore, you will get an idea of the intended use and production era of the knife by checking the shape and size of the blade.
Design changes are not always consistent across all Old Hickory knives. Some knives may have older designs even if they were produced later.
#05. Consider the Condition
The overall quality of the knife’s construction can give you a hint of its condition. Usually, Old Hickory knives are well-made with sturdy handles and blades. With that said, it can be a newer or inferior model if the construction of the knife seems inadequate or poorly made.
While checking the condition, you should look for any signs of wear and tear, such as cracks, chips, and rust on the blade. These signs can indicate the knife’s age and how long it has been used. Therefore, it will be easier to identify whether it is a newer or older model. Also, do keep in mind that it would be hard to date the Old Hickory knife accurately if has been repaired or restored. So, you should look for such indications.
The sharpness of the blade should also be taken into account. These knives will remain sharp even after many years of use. However, if the blade is very dull or has been sharpened heavily, it can indicate that the knife is old and has been used frequently.
#06. Know the Features of the Knife
Sometimes, it is obvious to check the features of your Old Hickory knife since it can show significant differences. For instance, the ancient kitchen cutlery from the ancient Hickory series is made of 1095 carbon steel. For more than 90 years, they have been honorably produced in the US.
The edge type can play a vital role in dating Old Hickory knives. These knives typically have a decent angle of 15 degrees when you buy them. Yet, some models do have an 18-degree edge angle, which can be a significant identification mark.
In addition, the blade of the Old Hickory cook knife should be 8.125 inches long. It is rated between 57 and 59 on the Rockwell hardness scale. It should also be constructed with twin brass rivets. The total length of the item should be 13 inches. The newer models have etched blades and contain a walnut handle rather than hickory hardwood.
#07. Consider the Price
Old Hickory blades are surprisingly affordable, despite the fact that they can be sharpened to a razor’s edge. For as low as $8.99, you can pick up a single knife to test the brand. Otherwise, a complete five-piece set can be purchased for under $50.
On the contrary, the price of the newer knives always starts at $20. Therefore, if you want to purchase an antique hickory knife, the sole price will reveal its age. Whether it is the price of an older or newer model, it is always a great deal.
At a Glance: New vs. Old Hickory Knives
We will take a look at how the new “Old Hickory” knives differ from the older models through the table below. However, the choice between old and new Hickory knives will always depend on your personal preference and intent to use.
|Attribute||New Hickory Knives||Old Hickory Knives|
|Blade Material||1095 Carbon Steel||1095 Carbon Steel|
|Blade Hardness||53-58 HRC||53-58 HRC|
|Blade Finish||Mirror-polished or Satin||Unfinished or Rough|
|Handle Material||Walnut wood, plastic, or composite||Hickory hardwood|
|Hande Design||More versatile, including ergonomic and textured options||Simple and straightforward|
|Manufacturing Origin||Either in the USA or Taiwan||Only in the USA|
|Price||Generally, more expensive||Generally, more affordable|
FAQs on How to Date Old Hickory Knives
What are some key characteristics to look for when dating old Hickory knives?
Some important characteristics to consider include the blade stamp, tang stamp, handle materials, and any other identifying marks or features.
How can I tell the difference between different eras of Hickory knives?
Different eras of Hickory knives may have different blade or tang stamps, as well as variations in handle materials, shape, or design. Consulting a reference guide or knowledgeable expert can also be helpful.
What should I do if I suspect a Hickory knife is a fake or reproduction?
If you have any doubts or concerns about the authenticity or value of a particular Hickory knife, it’s best to consult with a reputable expert or antique dealer. They can help you evaluate the knife and determine its true worth.
Are there any precautions I should take when purchasing an old Hickory knife?
When purchasing an antique knife, it’s important to exercise caution and do your research beforehand. Look for reputable sellers and ask for detailed photos or information about the knife’s history and condition.
Dating old Hickory knives can be a challenging yet rewarding experience for knife enthusiasts and collectors. By understanding the key characteristics of the different eras and models of Hickory knives, as well as utilizing various resources and techniques such as blade stamps, tang stamps, and handle materials, it is possible to accurately date these iconic knives.
Remember to always exercise caution when purchasing antique knives, and to seek the advice of reputable experts and resources if you have any doubts or concerns about the authenticity or value of a particular knife.
Whether you are a seasoned collector or a newcomer to the world of knives, dating old Hickory knives can provide a fascinating glimpse into the history and evolution of this classic American brand. By following the tips and techniques outlined in this guide, you can become a knowledgeable and confident collector of these timeless knives.