View Full Version : Details on this ancient Dexter?

11-01-2012, 11:39 AM
Hi all,

I'm so glad knyfeknerd told me about this forum! I posted on another forum but didn't get much information.

Can anyone fill in the details on this old Dexter knife? The patina and rust on the blade caught my eye at a yard sale, a few weekends ago, and I bought it for the princely sum of $1.00...

What I'm wondering is the usual:

How old is it?
Is it any good?
Does it have any resale value?

The blade was pretty rusty when I got it, and I cleaned it up a bit. It's 8" long, very thin, rather whippy, in fact. I think it was a slicer for soft proteins. But it's a lot more flexy than a yanagi, I think.

It looks like it's a stick tang. There's only one nail (not a rivet) in the handle. The ferrule is carbon steel as well, since it was corroded to the same degree as the blade.

I sharpened it up and it took an edge very quickly. I don't know if that's good or bad. Only time will tell if it will hold the edge.

Thanks in advance for thoughtful, informed replies.


11-01-2012, 12:31 PM
Nice find! I would guess it is early 1900, as far as value....probably not, maybe 20.00. But that does not mean its not a keeper. I would restore it and put it to good use. Those vintage carbon blades can make great cutters and provide years more service.

From Wikipedia:

"The Harrington Cutlery Company was established in 1818, in Southbridge, Massachusetts by Henry Harrington, a New England craftsman and inventor. The Harrington Cutlery company was the first cutlery manufacturing company established in the United States. Harrington manufactured surgical equipment, shoe knives and firearms. Some of his firearms are on display at the Old Sturbridge Village Museum in Sturbridge, MA. In 1884, Harrington introduced the Dexter trade name. Named after one of his sons, Dexter Harrington, the Dexter line of kitchen and table cutlery became known for its high quality in American homes and restaurants."

11-01-2012, 05:34 PM
How long is the blade? It appears to be silver plated, which would tend to indicate a table knife, I think.

11-01-2012, 08:01 PM
Hi Dglevy and welcome any friend of a man in a lobster outfit is ok by me.

The Harrington cutlery co started to use the Dexter name on it's knife from 1884 -1933 then they merged with russell and the the stamp changed a little from what yours is . so at least it is from 1930's the thing is the handle and length which is 8' inch's

Dexter made a lot of knifes but we can narrow it down to a small butcher knife that has been reground from the 1930's
and there are example s of it .

first the logo lets find a match.

but the handle is off .

so we know the blade and marking
and looking around more we find your blade.



enjoy your find .

11-01-2012, 08:04 PM
Stop by anytime were always open.

11-02-2012, 11:43 PM
hi all,

thanks for the replies! i was familiar with the history of dexter-russell and figured the knife was from sometime between 1884 and 1933. i'm not sure we have the same blade as the 1st knife pictured, but it's nice to have a confirmation that the logo is accurate and pre-1933. the picture of the 2nd knife was intriguing. the ferrule certainly looks very similar. the handles are a bit different, but the style sort of looks the same. i suspect this knife was not re-handled, considering how well it fits into the ferrule.

what i'm wondering is: can i get a narrower date range on this knife? it's clearly carbon steel, not stainless. does anyone know, was there a date at which the harrington company switched completely over to stainless? or, put another way, a date at which they stopped selling carbon steel? stainless became widespread by the '20's, so this knife could be from earlier -- even MUCH earlier. that would be cool...

11-03-2012, 04:54 AM
Harrington Cutlery Co. did produce catalogs from 1890's and on ward which would be a great source for a date but they are few and far between.

the stainless factor has no bearing on this knife .

that is the original handle worth maybe $30 or if you have a good story $ 45
have fun with your knife.

Noodle Soup
11-03-2012, 09:01 AM
I'm not sure Dexter ever quit using carbon steel on all models. They were certainly using it within the last 10 years. That knife looks like a low end kitchen slicer to me. Most cutlery companies used to have an economy line of rat tail tang and turned wood handle kitchen knives like it.

11-03-2012, 11:02 AM
thanks, guys, for your well informed comments! very helpful.

steeley, the only reason i brought up stainless vs carbon steel was to try to narrow down the date. thanks for your estimate on the value. did you mean you agree that it looks like the original handle? certainly, that would add to the value. i intentionally did not clean it up, in case someone wanted to inspect the wear pattern as an indicator of age.

i think the next step will be to write to dexter-russell and see if i can scare up some history buff in the company. thanks, noodle, for your comment, i will also suggest that they scan their old catalogs and put them online. that would be in their own best interest, since the company's history is a great selling point.

11-03-2012, 08:50 PM
I would be interested in what you find out from them.
and yes that's the original handle .

11-04-2012, 07:00 PM
okay, will do; one good turn deserves another. thanks again for the help.