The Column, No. 127:

R.I.P. Queen Cutlery

By Gary Zinn

I thought about punctuating this title with a question mark, for there has been no definitive announcement that Queen Cutlery is out of business. It has been a year, though, since the announcement that Queen was ceasing operations, due to cash flow issues. As I write this (in January, 2019) there has been no recent word, official or unofficial, on the fate of the firm.

I interpreted the January, 2018 closing announcement, posted over the signature of Queen C.E.O. Ken Daniels, as implying that the firm was embarking on a financial restructuring (Chapter 11 bankruptcy), rather than going completely out of business (Chapter 7 bankruptcy). However, my interpretation was apparently more hopeful than realistic, for I was able to track down a notice that Daniels Family Cutlery Corporation (the legal entity that owned Queen Cutlery) filed a voluntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on March 21, 2018. Sometime later, the Queen Cutlery website disappeared from the Internet. I can only conclude that Queen Cutlery is defunct.

I realize that the knife business is very competitive and that the preferences of buyers have trended toward more contemporary designs, rather than the traditional pocket knives that Queen Cutlery produced. Still, it is sad to lose one of the oldest and best known brand names in the U.S. cutlery industry.

The Queen Cutlery tang stamps, Schatt & Morgan, Queen City and Queen, have some potential value. Perhaps another prominent knife maker will acquire rights to one or more of those, so that we may once again see knives bearing these venerated labels.

Alternatively, some marketing business might buy the tang stamps and import junk knives under the brand names. That would be grotesque, but not unprecedented. (The Marbles knife brand is a recent case in point.) Understand that I am merely noting best and worst case scenarios regarding the fate of the tang stamps, without any actual knowledge regarding what might happen.

I commend Daniels Family Cutlery for trying to bring Queen Cutlery back from the brink of failure. I was rooting for them to turn the business around, but apparently the loss of reputation and market position that Queen suffered, before the Daniels took over in 2012, were too much to overcome.

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Copyright 2019 by Gary Zinn and/or All rights reserved.