Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center

 

Christy Knife Company

 

LH-276


Introduction

Agency History

Scope and Content

Inventory

Introduction

The Christy Knife Company is located at 905 Dickinson Street, Fremont, Ohio. It remains one of the county's oldest businesses and is still owned by Christy family members.

Agency History

Machinist Russ J. Christy of Sandusky, Ohio organized the Christy Knife Company in 1889 after inventing and patenting a nickel-plated, serrated-edged bread knife. L. H. Cress and other Fremont, Ohio investors purchased the stock and patents, and began production on Arch St. in Fremont. Christy continued to manage the operation and develop other specialty knives. By 1894, the company needed extensive building improvements. A local committee raised $5000 in pledges from Fremont residents to ensure that the business remained in the city. Christy Knife employed sixty workers in its new factory, and, by 1897, distributed products nationwide - and worldwide through its London office.

In 1902 and 1910, fire ravaged the company. Christy rebuilt and expanded after both fires. In 1917, Christy purchased a building site on the northeast corner of Dickinson and State Streets to, once again, increase production. One hundred workers manufactured a full line of cutlery. The 1906 invention of a single-edge safety razor saw the company through the material shortages of World War I. Following the war, Christy developed and patented a unique pocketknife with a retractable blade. This single item spared the business from the effects of the Great Depression. In 1920, D. Lamar Christy managed the company from 1920 until 1955 when Earl Christy took over. During this period, surgical blade production for a Cincinnati surgical instrument company represented eighty per cent of the company's revenue. With the unexpected loss of this contract in 1961, Christy nearly collapsed. The drastically-reduced work force continued production of only a single item, its world-famous "Christy Sliding Blade Pocket Knife." By 1992, Earl Christy employed only six production workers at the highly-automated plant.

Scope and Content

The collection consists of random, miscellaneous financial papers concerning the company from 1889-1905, including Christy's suit against locally-owned Clauss Shear for alleged patent infringement. Additional information, particularly the company's history, can be found in the Center's Local History File.

Inventory

Ac. 5371

1/6 linear ft.

 

Advertising material, including some product descriptions

Business correspondence. 1880-1890; 1892-1904

Financial papers. 1891-1904

Miscellaneous papers

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