Yesterday’s Handmade Quality — Today.
Change is often a great thing, but sometimes it’s better to take a step back and emulate the past. Such is the case for Queen Cutlery of Titusville, Pa. Queen is one of the grand old cutlery brands whose roots date back to the early 1900s in New England, when American brands were coming into their own after taking a backseat to the British and German knife manufacturing centers of Europe. A tariff placed on imported knives in the late 1800s allowed US knifemakers to gain a foothold in the domestic market.
One of the early American cutlery companies was Schatt & Morgan. Founded in 1895, the company began producing high-quality folding and fixed-blade knives to rival their European counterparts — joining other noted brands such as W.R. Case & Sons, Cattaraugus Cutlery Company and New York Knife Company in building a strong US cutlery manufacturing market.
By 1903 Schatt & Morgan was producing 40,000 knives per year, but despite this success, the company went bankrupt in 1933. Five former department heads purchased the company, who had been ironically thrown out on their ears in 1922 for corporate treason. Some speculated the company went to hell in a handbasket due to their firings. The new owners would form Queen City Cutlery Company, and the company — whose name has since been shortened to Queen Cutlery — still operates out of the same factory built by Schatt & Morgan in 1914 on Chestnut Street in Titusville.
Queen Cutlery Today
Today, CEO Ken Daniels owns Queen and runs all operations. Company president Jeanie Moore, a 25-year company veteran and first female to be named president of a major knife manufacturer, runs and supervises all aspects of manufacturing. Ryan Daniels, Ken’s son, serves as vice president and is in charge of sales and all phases of marketing.
Daniels’ acquisition of Queen Cutlery is very recent. Ken and Ryan had helped co-found another traditional knifemaking company, and were involved there for over a decade when the opportunity to purchase Queen presented itself.
According to Ryan, “It was a case of being in the right place at the right time. We had a different business plan than our partner at the previous company, so we decided to step away but stay with our roots of producing handmade knives. Then I suggested we offer a small run of knives to fit a niche market. Dad proposed we do business with Queen Cutlery, which we had in the past. During the course of the project, Queen came up for sale and, without a bit of hesitation, my father jumped at the opportunity to reignite a historical American brand.”
File & Wire Tested
African Zebra Hardwood
Still By Hand
In an age where the cutlery industry is highly computerized and robotized, Queen Cutlery doesn’t fit the mold. They make knives the old fashioned way, by hand. Using centuries-old methods to fabricate exquisite knives of days long past, Queen focuses on folders, or “pocket knives” as most baby boomers still call them. Patterns like the Trapper, Folding Hunter, Congress, Swing Guard and Cattle King are the norm here, and Queen does them up in a wide range of steels, handle materials and price levels from affordable Delrin to high-end Stag.
Fans of traditional high carbon steel will be pleased to see a nice selection in the Queen cache. As it ages, this easy-to-sharpen steel gets a gray patina many users like. The company’s high carbon steel of choice is 1095; a time-proven alloy found in pocketknives and fixed blades for tactical use. You’ll also find D2 steel in the lineup. This “semi-stainless” doesn’t totally qualify as a true stainless steel but has enough chromium content to keep maintenance to a minimum.
When true stainless steel choices are desired, Queen turns to ATS-34 and 154CM — two very similar alloys often used by custom knifemakers in the US and Japan. Needless to say, there are plenty of steels passed around among the line from which to choose. Like steels, there are handle materials aplenty in the Queen line, with the most popular handle materials being Carved Stag Bone, Genuine Indian Sambar Stag and Winterbottom Bone.
Queen knives are segmented into sub-brands, encompassing a group of patterns to offer select handle materials and steels. The standard Queen Cutlery line includes two main handle materials: Carved Stag Bone and Zebra Wood (with D2 steel blades). Also under this label, is a group of Torched Sambar Stag classic fixed-blade knives bound to make the ardent hunter lick his chops.
The Queen City brand features Stag and Classic Jigged Bone with 1095 high carbon steel for the cutting chores. In the affordable Work Horse series you’ll find hard-use carbon steel knives with synthetic Delrin handles given a “jigged” look. Queen’s Country Cousins Sodbusters will also appeal to the working class hero.
The Schatt & Morgan legacy lives on in the Keystone and File & Wire brands. Among these you’ll find exquisite offerings in Torched Sambar Stag and the Worm Groove Bone — made famous during the Schatt & Morgan golden years. D2 and ATS-34 steels are the standard here.
Deer Knife with Amber Carved Stag Bone Handle
Q-TAC Handmade Tactical
Work Horse Series
Green Linen Micarta
The Road Ahead
A hint suggests Queen is not totally locked into history, as the company recently introduced a modern twist to their line with their new Q-Tac series. “These are our first-ever tactical knives,” Ryan informs. “These knives still have a traditional look but are modernized with G10 handles, topflight ATS-34 blades, lock-back blade securing mechanisms and thumb studs for quick and easy opening.”
The future for this legendary company appears bright. “Our customers are people who still appreciate American handmade knives mimicking those their grandfathers carried,” Ryan says. “Our plans are to expand the company so we can hire more people and get this factory running at full tilt once again. We want to sustain the Queen brand so it can be in our family for generations to come.” Long live the Queen!
By Pat Covert
Photos By Chuck Pittman
For more info: www.americanhandgunner.com/queen-cutlery, (814) 827-3673