George Nagle's ReBlade Knives
Story about George and The ReBlade Knife Company
George Nagle's ReBlade Knife Company
…Nagle ReBlade knives were of innovative design, so much so that the company was granted three U.S. patents for knife design elements and a fourth patent for a unique manufacturing process…The concept was simple yet elegant – a handle with replaceable blades or tools. Customers could customize their knives to suit themselves. The company sold dozens of different types of blades and tools that could be selected and inserted into the handle of the customer’s choice. Handles accept either two or four blades, depending on style and owner preference.
Here is a brief history of the company, excepted and condensed from Robin S. Walsh’s chapter Disposable Blades: Poughkeepsie Style in the Dutchess County Historical Society Year Book, 1985.
The Nagle ReBlade Knife Company was incorporated May 17, 1912, to take over the defunct Piogren Sales Company in Newark, New Jersey. The Piogren company manufactured straight razors and an early version of the ReBlade knife.
The three men who started the Nagle ReBlade Knife Company were George H. Nagle, president, William A. Yerzley, secretary and chief engineer, and their partner, Carl H. White. White’s early version of the ReBlade knife, handled in both horn and bakelite, is known to have been manufactured at the Piogren plant in Newark. Yerzley is also credited for a later hook-tang design that was manufactured in Poughkeepsie.
In 1914, the Nagle ReBlade company relocated to what had been the Anchor Bolt and Nut Company building and the Feigenspan Brewery depot on Parker Avenue in Poughkeepsie. By then only Yerzley’s version of the knife was being made.
The construction of the knives is detailed in the company’s original Catalogue and Service Book: “Nagle ReBlade Knife Blades are forged from the highest quality Sheffield cutlery steel and the finest instruments and methods known to science are employed to make the blades right. German silver is being used instead of brass in the linings of all Nagle ReBlade Knives. All blade rivets in Nagle ReBlade Knives are encased in case hardened steel sleeves or bearings to insure durability. Only the best spring steel is used in springs and the knife is reinforced where reinforcement is necessary to make it strong, durable and superior.”
It was perhaps the attention to detail, costly manufacturing processes and use of high quality materials which ultimately led to the company’s demise. They were forced to file for bankruptcy in 1916 after only two years of operation. How many handles and inserts were manufactured is unknown.
If it will make you feel any better, I can tell you that chances are you have not let one of these gems of the knife world slip past your notice. I have been an avid, some may say obsessed, collector of Nagle ReBlades for the past 20 years and I only have but a precious nine knives and sixty extra blades, plus assorted other rare bits in my collection and I feel very lucky to have dug those up. But now that you know what I, er, rather we are looking for, perhaps more Nagles will be unearthed and enjoyed.
Michael A. Losicco currently collects New York made knives from his home in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He is an avid collector of all things Nagle and welcomes questions and comments from other fellow Nagle enthusiasts or Nagle novices. He can be reached at galvanic1882@yahoo. com. He is also a life member of the Northeast Cutlery Collectors Association.
A picture of the Nagle knife is at the above website featuring the excerpted article.
It is possible that the 3rd partner in the company, Carl H. White, was related to the husband of Emma Jane Houseman’s failed second marriage. (Emma Jane was the mother of George Nagle.)