by William A. Greene


Andover got into the knife business on January 25, 1907 when the Platts brothers (Joseph A., Charles W. and Frank L.) of Eldred, Pa. signed a contract with the Business Men’s Association of Andover, New York. They would be moving their cutlery plant from Eldred, Pa. to Andover for the manufacture of knives, shears, razors, etc.

The brothers were skilled in their profession, learning from their ancestors that were in the manufacture of cutlery before them. They had businesses in Little Valley, N.Y., Bradford, Pa.., and Eldred, Pa. before coming to Andover. They planned on having about twenty-five men working within a year.

In February 1907 ground was broken for a new building to be built on "Get There Street" off of Rochambeau Ave. The new building was a frame building 35ft. x 65ft., two stories high, with a forging room addition 25ft. x 35ft. one story high.

By March of 1907 tools and machinery were already arriving.

On the 17th of May 1907 some of the machinery had arrived and had been installed and sixteen men had been put to work. Several processes of manufacturing of the knives were being done and it wouldn’t be long when knives would be put together. In the next week the first knife was made. It was already noted that there was a short supply of money to keep the business going.

In the middle of June 1907 the Platts Brother Cutlery knives were now on sale at the Baker Brothers Hardware in Andover. Everybody should carry an Andover pocketknife.


From the fall of 1907 till June of 1908 money seemed to be the biggest problem. The Andover Business Men’s Association had promised the Platts Brothers so much money for them to move here and it never happened. There were many articles in the Andover News asking for the people of Andover to step forward and do their part in keeping the knife factory here, but it didn’t happen.

The factory was putting out an excellent product as was stated by the United States Trade Report, published at Cincinnati, Ohio. The following was written in December of 1909:

A Word to Hardware Dealers

Having been asked recently to recommend impartially the most reliable manufacture of pocket cutlery, we have been investigating the subject thoroughly, and are now in a position to state that there is no make of pocket cutlery on the American market today, in any of the qualities which make for excellence, equal to that of Platts.

The products of this firm not only equal those offered by any other manufacturer, but in points of workmanship and finish can not be surpassed, and no house in the country is more fully equipped to meet modern demands in this line. They are firm believers in quality, and zealously guarantee the quality of their products at all times by using only the best material and employing experienced workmen.

The have gained the reward which such attention to business invariably brings. The almost phenomenal success with which their pocket cutlery has been introduced into new fields and the constantly increasing demands from old customers, suggest that building trade upon quality has proved a great success. Absolute confidence in the quality of their product can always be maintained, and they are ever ready to stand by their claims. Their products afford results which please and enable all to "build upon quality."

Many complaints have been received by us from readers in different parts of the country regarding the inferior quality of pocket cutlery placed on the market by some concerns and we have been asked to recommend a really meritorious firm which can be depended upon to fill all orders placed with them promptly, honestly, and reliably. From observations locally, also referring the matter to our representatives in all the principal cities, we feel justified in extending our editorial commendation to Platts.

This investigation was conducted without their knowledge or consent. Neither has any compensation been offered us. We have no personal interest in them or their goods, except to commend them as the best and to give credit where credit is due, as has always been our policy.

In March 1910 a petition in bankruptcy proceedings was filed against the Platts Brothers Cutlery Co. and in May of 1910 the business is advertised for sale, by the trustee in bankruptcy and was sold to C.W.Harrison of Sheffield, England. The plant was sold subject to a $6,000 mortgage, held by the Andover State Bank, and was bid in at $654 above the face value of the mortgage.

Somewhere between May 1910 and September the same year the "Clay Cutlery Co." opened it’s doors and business started. Mr. Clay E. Jordan was the proprietor.

In September of 1910 and March 1912 the Platts Brothers tried to get their old employees from Andover to join them with their new companies and were refused.

In July of 1916 the Clay Cutlery Plant was offered a larger building to move to Springville, N.Y. and open business there.

(From Andover News, 7/14/1916)


Andover People Must Erect Large Addition to Present Plant or it Will Go to Springville. Subscriptions Now Being Made

            It has recently developed that there is quite a probability of the Clay Cutlery Plant’s removal from Andover to Springville, N.Y.

            The enterprising business men of Springville are trying hard to fill the well equipped and ideal cutlery plant in their village, now shut down on account of the financial troubles of the Case Cutlery Co., for whom the building was erected and equipped.

            These people have made the Andover Cutlery a wonderfully good offer, one that it must be admitted is a hard one to turn down.

            The Clay Cutlery plant have been anticipating an extensive additions to their plant in Andover, but should they go to Springville, they will not be under the necessity of building as the plant there is a large one, fully sufficient for all their needs.

            However, Mr. Jordan has magnanimously offered to remain in Andover and give up the flattering Springville offer if Andover people appreciate his plant enough to build him an addition to his present plant sufficient for his needs.

            This addition will cost a little less than three thousand dollars. A subscription paper is being circulated and the amounts subscribed would indicate that the fund would soon be forthcoming.

            Andover wants more manufacturing plants instead of less. It would be next to a crime to allow the cutlery plant to leave this village because of the lack of such a small sum.

            Canisteo is now raising $18,000 to keep one of her industries, and if we cannot raise $3,000 to construct an addition to a plant that has always financed itself without aid from the community, since it came into the hands of the present owners, we surely cannot blame the plant for moving to a place with will virtually give them ten times that amount.

            It is much easier to keep an old plant than to go out and get a new one. The new one, too, has always an element of chance in its success, while the Clay Cutlery Co. is a proven financial success.

            Andover people will rise to the need of the hour as it always has, we are sure.

In August of 1919 it was settled that the Clay Cutlery Co. would remain in Andover. The plans, specifications and blue prints for a new building have been received and the addition will be under construction. Ground was broken in October 1916 for the new plant building on Rochambeau Ave.


While they were building the new building it was struck with lightning causing much damage to the second floor and roof. It was repaired and in the early fall of 1917 the doors were opened and they began doing business out of the new modern building. There were few factory buildings better arranged for light and convenience than the new Clay Cutlery Plant. It was clean and pleasant, everything possible having been done to make the sanitation perfect.


Women were asked to start working there to replace the men that had been called to the United States Army. They were given the same wages as the men, for equal service, starting them in at ten cents an hour. They also had one room fitted up for their exclusive use.


On January 29th, 1920, the hardest blow to hit Andover in years struck when the new Clay Cutlery plant burnt at a cost of $65,000. The only things that were left were the concrete floor and three walls. It was thought that the coal heater exploded causing the fire. The fire could have been extinguished if the water main had not been shut off. A few weeks before, the water commissioner found the reservoir empty because people were leaving their water lines running to keep them from freezing. So the reservoir was filled and the main line shut off. By the time the line from the reservoir was opened 30 minutes had gone by and it was too late.

Mr. Jordan never fixed the building but moved what was possible into the old cutlery building and continued business there. At that time the cutlery employed 130 people and had a pay roll of $1,200 weekly.

On December 20th 1920 the cutlery business was dealt another blow when fire consumed the first building in thirty minutes. The cause of the fire is unknown. There were two or three theories but none were ever proven. The cutlery business was gone. Many people were left without jobs and Andover without a business.


In the January 7th, 1921 Andover News was the following notice: All creditors of the Clay Cutlery Co., of Clay E. Jordan, personally, please leave itemized statements showing date of purchase or of services rendered at Burrow Bank before January 10, 1921. C.E. Jordan.

There were no more articles that I could find in the Andover News.

Robert A. Baker told me that when he was a young child in the late 20’s early 30’s, a man by the last name of Jordan came to the brick building that burnt in the early 20’s and assembled knives. He didn’t know anymore than that.

The Platts brothers continued to work in the knife industry. Frank worked for his brother H.N. Platts at W.R. Case & Sons in Bradford, Pa. Joe was a foreman at the Union Knife Co. in Union-Endicott, N.Y.

Charlie was superintendent at the Union Knife Co. and then set up pocketknife production at Eureka Cutlery Co., Nicholson, Pa. This was followed by a short stint as a production supervisor for Russ Case in Bradford, Pa. In late 1916 he returned to Connecticut, were he was manager of the Thomaston Cutlery Co. for many years. Later Charlie Platts helped Remington Arms Co. set up and operate their pocketknife production line in Bridgeport, Conn.

I don’t know what happened to Clay E. Jordan, proprietor of the Clay Cutlery Plant in Andover, after he left here. But on October 13th, 1945 he died in St. Louis, Missouri.

These knives today are still sought after. A Platts knife or a Clay knife in good shape will bring well over $100. Many knife collectors are after them.

For more information:

The Knifemakers Who Went West by Harvey Platts

Knife World Publications Vol.29 No.7 July 2003