Camillus name a giant among cutlery collectors

Though the doors at Camillus Cutlery have been closed for nearly two years and the final inventory was auctioned off last fall, the love for what was one of America's oldest knife makers is alive and well in the collections of blade enthusiasts around the world.

Jim Clark, who grew up in Syracuse and moved his family out of he area in the early 1990s, remembers Camillus knives being ever-present in his youth.

"As a young man I worked at some of the farms and businesses in the area, and always had a Camillus knife in my pocket from an early age," Clark said. "It never crossed my mind to collect them for the elegance of design, or with the historic nature of 'the cutlery' in mind. I could always get more when I needed them. The cutlery was right there."

The relatively small manufacturing plant is now overgrown with weeds and dotted with For Sale signs. During public talks among village officials, residents and business owners this summer, there was hope that the building could be developed into residential or commercial space. But for now, the building stands as a silent reminder of how the Camillus name came to be known worldwide.

The collector community

Clark shares his hobby with like-minded collectors through online forum communities, like bladeforums.com. At bladeforums.com, Camillus is one of three manufacturers with dedicated collecting communities.

Why the love for Camillus?

It's about the quality of the product, collectors say.

"All of the knives I have collected whether old or new have the same well-made finish.

They are so well made that the pocket knife I now carry much of the time is about 60 years old and will outlive me," said Malcolm Smith, of South London, England. When Smith started collecting knives a few years ago, like many collectors he decided to focus exclusively on Camillus.

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