Hen & Rooster Model 104 Baby Barlow
In 1865, C. R. Bertram founded a small cutlery firm in Solingen, Germany which was fated to become, for a brief period, the maker of the very finest pocket knives in the world. Herr Bertram set out to make the best pocket knives. Because he raised (as a hobby) fancy chickens, he used as a trademark, a Hen and Rooster. In time the small firm was passed on to the sons and then to the grandsons.
In 1975, I bought the company and formed the firm of Bertram G.M.B.H. Using workers who had been with the firm for generations, we held the little company together for five years. Keeping a truly handmade knife company together while the mark multiplied itself by more than double, was more than I could manage. Against my wishes, the little firm was put into bankruptcy and the name and trademark were purchased by the firm of Robert Klaas, who has made knives marked with the Hen & Rooster Trademark and the words Bertram Cut. C. since late in 1980 or early 1981. The knives made before the bankruptcy were among the finest the world has ever known.
In the years that we owned the original Hen & Rooster factory, we produced some very beautiful knives. The very first knife made (produced for the Knife Collector's Club) was the CM-4 Baby Barlow. The very last knife produced before the German court took our land and buildings and sold them for about a quarter of their appraised value, was the Model 104 Baby Barlow, which you see here.
There were only 1,800 CM-4's with Ivory scales made. We then produced the Model 104 in five different handle materials (only these remain). These are great knives. You can not get this quality today any place else at these prices. If you want one of the knives made in the original shop of the Bertram Firm, this is an opportunity you will not want to miss.
Measures 2-7/16" closed with a 1-7/8" clip point blade. Nickel silver liners and bolsters. Weighs 0.8 oz. The blade is marked with the Hen & Rooster mark on the front side and Bertram, Germany on the reverse side.
Hen & Rooster Model 104 Baby Barlow Engraved Stainless
Hen & Rooster Model 104 Baby Barlow Engraved Stainless
Blade SteelHigh Carbon Stainless
Hen & Rooster Knives
C. Bertram of Solingen and their Hen & Rooster knives
In 1864, the firm of C. Bertram Reinh. Sohn, Knifemakers opened in Solingen, Germany. This firm was founded by a man whose hobby was raising fancy chickens, so he began using a logo of a Rooster standing behind a Hen. In the United States, collectors began calling these knives, Hen & Rooster knives, which by the 1950s, 60s, and 70s had become synonymous with superlative quality. These German knives almost matched in quality the English knives of Joseph Rogers, whose quality was maintained until about 1913 when England destroyed itself by letting 70-80 year old generals run a modern war.
In the early 1970s, I sold Hen & Rooster knives which I bought from Kurt Gutmann. When I needed a manufacturer who was capable of a similar quality to make knives for the collector’s series which I had started for the Knife Collectors Club, I made a trip to Solingen. I found that those exquisite pocket knives were being made by C. Bertram and arranged for them to make the fourth knife in that series – the CM-4 Baby Barlow with elephant ivory. That was in 1975. Before the year was over, the manager of the factory approached me to buy the company. In order to keep the company out of bankruptcy, and assure that I had a source of the kind of quality I wanted, I bought the company. We managed to keep the factory open until July 1980. For the first year, we continued to make knives for Kurt Gutmann. When I realized that the factory was losing money on what they sold to him, I approached him with a price increase. He would have none of that and he and I agreed to no longer do business.
Over the next five years, we continued to produce Hen & Rooster knives with the Hen & Rooster logo, but after Gutmann, they were all marked A.G. Russell. In July, 1980, I could no longer keep the little company going and finally it succumbed to bankruptcy in July of that year. At that time, I had a large inventory on hand in Springdale, Arkansas and we have continued to sell those knives through the years. We have very few of those original knives left.
Today, we are adding forty-one (41) individual knives to the A.G. Russell website. These knives came from a man who has been collecting original Hen & Rooster knives for years. There is only one of each as we have described them on our site. If the knife was made before the 1950s, I have indicated that on each individual knife. The others, I have dated to indicate an approximate time they were made: in the 1950s the mark was primarily Gutmann, during the 1960s, Gutmann, Carter, Fife, Kane and others. Those made during the late 1970s were primarily made for A. G. Russell and are so marked. You can find these knives at agrussell.com/hen&rooster.
The factory, with 15 workers, was closed in July of 1980 and the unique quality was lost forever. The trademark was acquired by Jim Frost of Frost Cutlery, with the help of Klaass Cutlery who then produced knives using this trademark. The quality has never been the same.
We sell only those knives made before July of 1980. There is nothing wrong with the Frost Hen & Rooster knives, they are fairly priced for what they are. But, I must avoid confusing my customers, so we do not sell currently produced knives marked in a way that would cause them to be confused with these valuable collectible knives.
There is a forum page on the internet that might be of further interest to you. The link is provided below. As with anything you find on the internet, just keep in mind that all the information is not totally accurate. It all depends on the knowledge of the writer.