Souvenir Knives


When it comes to souvenir knives, I’ve got to go with historic references.  A knife that simply says Disneyland doesn’t float my boat.  But given the option of an event occurring at a specific time and place, well I’m a sucker for it.  

I can easily understand military collectors.  There are so many extraordinary events happening to ordinary Joes and Janes and their stories are told in the badges and mess kits they carried.

So when I had the chance to buy a brass-sided knife from the 1982 World’s Fair held in Knoxville, Tennessee I bought it.  The tang stamp identifies it as made by Parker Cutlery in Japan.

brass sided knife
The letters are so small I needed a magnifying glass to read them.
The 1982 World’s Fair, formally known as the Knoxville International Energy Exposition, was themed “Energy Turns the World.”  It opened on May 1, 1982, and closed six months later on October 31, 1982.  The Sunsphere, a 266-foot tower topped with a five-story gold globe, still remains and can be seen in Knoxville.

Souvenir knife 1982 worlds fair knoxville

James F Parker founded the company as a sideline to his employment as a paint sales rep.  He was one of the first to effectively utilize direct mail services to buy and sell collectable knives in the 1970s.  He used a stylized logo of an eagle with its wings spread.  He helped start Frost Cutlery by partnering with James Frost in a short-lived partnership. 

one of several designs
One of the more recognized tang stamps from Parker Cutlery

The commemorative knife business can be very confusing.  Parker had knives made by both Schrade and Rodgers-Wostenholm in addition to his own production.  As his business evolved the tang stamp changed, reflecting involvement with his brothers, purchasing of the Japanese company Imia and then Rodgers Wostenholm USA Ltd which gave him the right to use the IXL trademark.  In January of 1989, Parker purchased the W.R. Case and Sons Cutlery Co.

There can be no doubt that James Parker was a player in the knife world stage!  Knives ranging from good to yuck quality were produced both for the souvenir market and cutlery trade. 

In 1990 James Parker declared bankruptcy.

I find it interesting that I am unable to find a Wikipedia entry about Parker or his knife company.  Even Case knife histories fail to mention their brief ownership by Parker.  All I could find out through my limited search of the Internet was Case is currently owned by Zippo Lighters.

(Most of my information on Parker was liberated from Collector Knives by C. Houston Price.)

After that little historic jaunt, I’ve still got a very nice historic souvenir worth five dollars on E-Bay.  It doesn’t look like the blade was sharpened and I’m going to leave the brass with its patina.   Now, if I can only find an elongated penny from the fair, I would be a happier camper.