History of Colonial Cutlery International, Inc.
Affordable Knives, Family Tradition
By Mike Haskew , Blade Magazine, Field Editor
Who We Are
When Colonial created its first pocket knife in 1926, they knew it would become an industry standard. Today, Colonial is proud to manufacture the highest quality in precision cutlery that can only come from nearly a century of knife making experience. That’s why Colonial is able to offer a lifetime warranty on all its products. Today, Colonial continues to push everyone its manufacturing boundaries, though the use of innovative technologies and breakthrough metal research which requires a powerful position along with creative thinking. It’s the perfect confluence of art and science-the kind of performance you’ll find at Colonial, and the type of ”pushing the envelope“ that has made Colonial an industry leader.
Colonial Knife manufactures military knives, law enforcement-Tuff Cop™ knives, fire/rescue and marine/sailors knives plus electrical Electricals knives, hunters and rock and ice climbing knives. Colonial Knife Corp also engineered the automatic knife, switch blade, military collector’s knife-Mark 1 navy deck knife, paratrooper knife, marlin spike knives and the Roper Knives™, assisted opening Quick Flick Knives™, known as Cowboy Up™ knives, Tuckerman Ravine Knives™ and the J Hook Rescue Tool, or J knife, are made for the professional. Colonial also manufactures the MC-1 Survival Pocket Knife. All Colonial knives come with a life time warranty against defects in material and craftsmanship.
Colonial Knife was incorporated in 1926 by the Paolantonio brothers; Antonio, Domenic, Fredrick . Prior to the three brothers forming Colonial Knife, they each worked in other occupations which would hone their skills as manufactures and businessmen.
Early Assorted Knife styles
Antonio: upon returning from the First World War where he served as black smith with the U.S. Cavalry he started the A. Paolantonio Cutlery Company where he began making knives for the jewelry industry.
Domenic: worked for the Empire Knife Company, Meridian CT, as a foreman.
Fredrick: worked for the Imperial Knife Company, Providence, Rhode Island as a department head.
The brothers proved they had the skills needed to achieve success. Antonio handling the sales, Domenic the finances and Frederick the manufacturing process. The 20’s and 30’s would prove to be difficult times, but with hard work and determination, the brothers would overcome all obstacles.
Antonio Paolantonio (left), traveling across U.S. working with salesstaff.
Colonial Knife under construciton 1930
When the Second World War broke out, Colonial Knife was engaged in the production of the famous Mark 1 Navy Deck Knife and the Navy Pilot Survival Knife along with a variety of military jack knives. During the, war Antonio served on the war production board in Washington D.C where he oversaw the allocation of steel to the cutlery industry.
During the next 70 years Colonial Knife grew adding new products. The 1950’s inspired such brand names as the Sure Snap (auto knife) along with the Cub Hunter and Rin Tin Tin series and other well know styles of knives that would earn the Colonial brand a reputation as “a boy’s first knife”.
History of the Colonial automatic knives
Shur Snap™, Snappy™, Jiffy™ & Pronto™ brands, 1940 through 1958
The 1970’s saw the introduction of a number of better quality brands for Colonial such as the Ranger series, Master Brand, Swiss Master, and Old Cutler series. Each of these new series helped to increase demand for the Colonial brand throughout the United States.
1979 Barlow Model 933
Ranger Counter Display
Ranger Model 933
The 1980’s and 90’s brought a new type of business to Colonial, the “private label” customer. These include Smith & Wesson, Colt, Winchester, John Russell Barlow and the riders of the silver screen with such names as Tom Mix, Roy Rogers, Hop along Cassidy, Daniel Boone, Elvis Presley, commemorative knives and Ultra Blade series and the Sharp brand (K-mart).
In 2001, some of the employees of the former Colonial Knife started Colonial Cutlery international (CCI) and began manufacturing the M-724 Switchblades and the J-316 for the military. This new interest in the Colonial brand led to additional customers such as the Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of the U.S.A, Cooper Tools, Stanley Works, Ideal Industries, and the General Service Administration (G.S.A.).
In 2002, CCI registered the Colonial Knife brand as a division of Colonial Cutlery International, Inc. Today, Colonial Cutlery International, Inc. brand is the imported line of knives and tools while the U.S.A.- made products fall under the Colonial Knife brand.
Together, two great brands under one roof.