The Worldwide Edge!

From humble roots, Böker Knives is now an international juggernaut
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Boker Knives

Left: Beer Barrel Trapper
Right: Camp Knife Stag Handles

Trade and expanding one’s horizons has always been a part of mankind’s nature, and the reason we have a global economy today. The typical automobile, regardless of its national badge of origin, is typically made up of 60 percent domestic parts and the rest come from companies spread across five continents. This isn’t a new thing. About 25,000 years ago Paleo-Indians in North America were bartering their wares of flint and shell among each other — 500 miles away. And that’s a long way by foot. One early cutlery company with such aspirations was Böker Knives.

“Böker and their family business dates back to 1674, but the Böker company you know today was founded 1869 by Heinrich Böker. He had two cousins, and one, Robert Böker, emigrated to Mexico and founded Böker Mexico in 1865. Hermann Böker emigrated to America and founded H. Böker & Company in New York,” explained Marc Goetzmann, Product Manager at Böker Solingen. Marc, a self-confessed knife nut for over 35 years, has been with Böker for 12 years and works closely with their marketing, new products and production divisions.

“Around 1900, the U.S. was already the biggest market for Solingen (Germany) made Böker products and, with the pocketknives being the most important part of the catalog, the decision was made to establish manufacturing in the U.S. to increase production capacity and make logistics easier as well,” he continued.

As you can imagine, World War II put a huge dent in Böker’s production. The Solingen factory was destroyed and the U.S. trademark confiscated, but in the decades following, the company rose from the ashes and the brand was restored, stronger than ever.

“In 1983 Böker Arbolito was founded in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with a broad selection of household cutlery and knives for professional use, as well as traditional high quality hunting knives,” Goetzmann said.

Boker Knives

Pry-Mate Fixed Blade

Expanding The Brand

As you can see from Goetzmann’s historical comments, Böker Knives — under whichever name the brand was under at the time — has always had global aspirations. The Böker brand today consists of four main divisions, all distinct in their own ways. “Böker Solingen is still the core, or the heart of it all,” explained Marc. “With our Solingen manufacturing we cover a wide variety of cutlery, and every knife with the Tree Brand etching and the word ‘Solingen’ on the blade is made in our German factory.” The Tree Brand logo has endured since the early days of the company and many traditional pocketknife collectors and users recognize it as a symbol of quality. Both the early Tree Brand and American-made Böker pocketknives have become quite collectible.

“Böker Arbolito is based in Buenos Aires where we manufacture a lot of kitchen knives for the American and South American markets, plus make a nice selection of hunting knives for the European and the U.S. markets as well. The third division is Böker Plus, introduced in 2005. We saw the necessity for this new brand because there was a gap in our line between our entry-level knives, the Magnum brand and the more exclusive Solingen knives,” continued Marc. “A Böker Plus knife is a made to Böker standards, be it an in-house design or one of the numerous custom collaborations we make, but is not made in Solingen. While in the beginning this meant mostly cutlery manufactured in Asia, we’ve expanded, and now have manufacturing partners in Italy and in the U.S. for our Böker Plus knives. And at the time of this interview, we’re just about to add some new Böker Plus models made in Spain.

“And I mentioned our fourth division earlier — the Magnum line. This covers the entry level and gives you a nice selection of EDC knives, knives for outdoor/law enforcement use and hunting, all for reasonable prices,” shared Marc.

Boker Knives

Fellow Damascus Lockback

Boker Knives

Burnley Kwaiken Compact Flipper

Collaborations Abound

Much of Boker’s success in the modern era has been their collaborations with noted custom knifemakers. Most cutlery manufacturers have embraced collaborations as a way to keep their line hot and fresh, but very few have perfected the practice as well as Boker. The company jumped on the collaboration train early with their release of the Applegate dagger over 25 years ago.

Today you’ll find some of the world’s hottest names in the Böker stable. The list of collaborators reads like a who’s-who of sought after custom knifemakers: Lucas Burnley, Jens Anso, Brad Zinker, Serge Panchenko, Jason Stout — all hot names and more. So what are the best sellers?

“If you look at the Böker Plus Kwaiken Folder from Lucas Burnley, or the Urban Trapper from Brad Zinker, and you see the number of variations we offer of these models, it gives you a pretty good idea of what’s hot at the moment,” Mark explained. In other words, anytime a model is morphed into handle or blade variations and sizes, you can bet it’s selling like hotcakes.

While much of the line is loaded with modern tactical and EDC folders, Böker still pays ample homage to the traditional pocketknives which launched the company over 125 years ago. The Solingen made folders are the highlight, featuring the favorite patterns of old. Trappers, Folding Hunters, Stockmans, Barlows, Copperheads and Lockbacks can all be found in this category, and Böker offers upscale versions in patterned Damascus steel and exotic handle scales. There are plenty of fixed-blades for hunters and kitchen knives for chefs as well.

And then there are the Böker straight razors. “We definitely have a brisk business in our straight razors. A couple of years ago the demand grew so dramatically we had delivery times of one year and more,” Marc said, somewhat amazed. In essence, there aren’t many genres not covered by Böker’s extensive offerings.

Boker Knives

Scout Lockback Folder

Looking Ahead

We asked Marc about Boker’s future plans for expansion. “Over the last few years, we are happy with how our outdoor and collector’s knives have increased in the market, but we see a huge potential not only in the straight razors, but also in the high quality kitchen knife market. With all the know-how we have from all those years of making premium hunting and outdoor knives, we’re transferring some of this knowledge into our kitchen knives as well, resulting in a superior edge quality and excellent ergonomics of these products.

“Nevertheless,” Marc continued, “the tactical, EDC, hunting, and outdoor knives — and the collector’s knives — will always be our main market, so we try our best to come up with new ideas, new collabs and new designs all the time. Our goal is to keep Böker in the focus of all those great knife-nuts out there who help to keep our industry busy, as well as for those customers who simply look for a reliable tool for their needs.” Thinking big from the very start has made Böker a worldwide force with bases covered for virtually any knife user imagineable.

For more info: Ph: (800) 835-6433
www.boker.de/us

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