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BOKER KNIVES HISTORY

Today’s Boker knives descend from the Boeker tool factory in Remscheid, Germany.  Boeker tools must have been very successful, since they were among the leading products in Germany and neighboring countries 100 years later.  A giant chestnut tree, shading the small Boeker tool factory in Remscheid in the 17th century, is the oldest traceable symbol connected with the Boeker name.  A tree is still used as part of the Boker symbol today.

In 1829, due to increasing demand and a restless political era, Hermann and Robert Boeker decided to begin producing sabers.  The accounting records indicate that as early as September 1830, Boeker had a weekly production of 2,000 items, made by 64 smiths, 47 grinders and a large number of unskilled laborers.

The Boeker family saw the constantly increasing variety of tools and cutting instruments and the opportunities for worldwide sales.  The family realized that the individual steps in the manufacturing process had to be spread out for maximum benefit.  Hermann Boeker immigrated to New York and in 1837 founded H. Boker & Co.  He changed the spelling of Boeker to Boker at this time, to make it easier to pronounce.   

Robert Boeker went to Canada where he developed his business and founded a branch in Mexico later in 1865. This branch is still a market leader in its country under the name of Casa Boeker.

Heinrich Boeker stayed in Germany, crossed the nearby Wupper River and went to Solingen, Germany.  Solingen, Germany is still known today for quality knives.  At the time Heinrich Boeker went to Solingen, the German cutting tools industry was growing by leaps and bounds.  In 1869, he founded Heinr. Boeker & Co. with Hermann Heuser, a well-known specialist in the field of cutting tools.

The Boeker family in Remscheid and their overseas relatives found a lot of interest in and a great demand for shaving blades, scissors and pocket knives from Heinrich Boeker's new enterprise. They had to identify their products for the overseas markets in a simple way, since many of their customers and consumers had problems with the German name Boeker.

Heinrich felt the chestnut tree near the Remscheid facility represented an ideal, easy-to-remember symbol. This brand symbol was owned by the Remscheid Company, together with a second logo, the arrow.  The relationship between the two Boeker companies had always been extremely friendly and Heinrich was allowed to take the tree symbol across the river with him - without any big fight or cost. Since then, not a single Boeker article has left the Solingen factory without being identified by the tree symbol.

After more than 100 years of existence the old chestnut tree became the victim of lightening.  In 1925 an artist carved a copy of that historic chestnut tree on a piece of the trunk. This piece decorates the boss' office in the Boeker plant.

As early as 1900, the majority of articles produced by Boeker were distributed in the US market.  H. Boker & Co. in New York concentrated primarily on cutting tools from Solingen.  Soon pocket knives became more important than scissors, shaving blades and eating utensils. The demand increased even more rapidly than Solingen was able to supply.  The Americans in New York began their own production of pocket knives.  A little later, pliers were included.

The tree symbol had become well known by this time and the various branches of the international Boeker family enjoyed an excellent relationship among each other.  It was not difficult to receive permission from the Solingen relatives to use the tree symbol on the American products.  Since that time, two different lines of Boker knives have been available on the American market with the same brand symbol, sometimes even with the same article numbers, but one line was made in the USA and the other in Solingen. Only the declaration of marketability clarified that one line was from Boker USA and the other from H. Boker Improved Cutlery Solingen.

The Boeker relationship was interrupted during WWII.  The Solingen, Germany factory burned down completely.  None of the equipment, tools, catalog materials or samples was spared. The few originals from the past that Boeker has today survived the war in private homes and were made available to the company. 

During the war Boeker lost one of its most valuable assets: the registration of the tree symbol for the American market.  It was confiscated pursuant to American law.  John Boker Jr. acquired it in New York, in order to secure it for the distribution of the American and German products.

Soon after the war, the destroyed Solingen factory was rebuilt.  The loyal skilled workers who survived the war, returned and helped with the reconstruction of the building as well as the production, gradually regaining the previous high standard of quality.  The American Boker renewed their business contact with Solingen and started to place orders. Within a few years Boker, New York, had again become the principal customer. Models like the 7588 and 7474 and the most expensive item, the sports knife Flagship Model 182 could not cross the ocean fast enough to reach Boker friends all over the country.

In the early 60s, Boker USA was sold and eventually acquired by the well-known scissors manufacturer Wiss & Sons. Wiss retained the manufacture of Boeker knives and sold them together with Solingen products. Of course, this meant that the Boeker scissors ceased to be competitors of the Wiss line in the American market. In the early 70s, Wiss sold to Cooper Industries, a multinational company. This new change in America proved to be great for Boker.

A very close business, as well as personal relationship developed with this industrial giant. Due to its strength on the market, Cooper was able to restore the original magnitude of the Boker name. Thanks to the very lively business activities with Cooper for eight years, the Solingen facility could streamline its production and develop new, modern products. Without exaggeration, Boker manufactures the largest assortment of high-quality knives for sportsmen and collectors with an unsurpassed variety of materials for blades and handles. Today, Boker knives range from 320-layer Damascus steel to very modern ceramics, with handles ranging from high-quality mother-of-pearl to Thuya root wood and state-of-the-art synthetics.

In 1983 Cooper discontinued its own knife production. Models still in demand are being manufactured in Solingen today.  Friendly negotiations resulted in Cooper restoring the American trademark rights three years later, providing Solingen with the opportunity to become self-reliant in the huge American market.

In 1986, Boker USA, Inc. was created in Denver, Colorado.  Chuck Hoffman, the man who was involved with the company then, is still active as CEO today, working with a young, energetic team.

The importance of Boker in the South American markets (Argentina and Chile) and in Mexico is due to the efficient men of the Boeker family, who were active for them in these countries in the 19th and 20th centuries. Today's trademark includes the terms TREEBRAND and ARBOLITO.  Since the Argentinean market in particular is subject to extreme economic and political fluctuations, the good name ARBOLITO was in danger of being forgotten.

In 1983, Boeker Arbolito S. A. was founded jointly with the Salzmann family primarily to manufacture household and work knives in Argentina.  Due to the constant modernization and expansion of product lines the company in Buenos Aires is able to compete worldwide with selected products today.

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