Questions about 'Jacob Bromwell' traditional pocket knife...

Discussion in 'Traditional Folders and Fixed Blades' started by PocketKnifeJimmy, Jun 1, 2019.

  1. PocketKnifeJimmy


    Aug 4, 2013
    I have a few Jacob Bromwell Great American Flask'. They are made of solid copper, are hot tin lined, and made at their Vermont location by their Coppersmiths. Since they are done in a very traditional manner, they're basically artisan made items. Imo, they are a bit too pricey, although they are quite unique in a sea of modern day Asian made stainless steel flasks, (the Bromwells being so handmade, different in it's material, and being American made).
    Anyhow, Coppersmithing and Knifemaking are both metal working trades, but obviously two different things.
    I do not know where they are making their pocket knife offering, although I know it's somewhere in the USA.
    Just wondering if anybody here owns one, or has come across one of these knives. If so, would you be so kind in sharing your thoughts about it.
    Many thanks in advance :)

    The following pics show one of my Jacob Bromwell flasks, and a pic I found online of their traditional pocket knife...


    I did not see any tang stamps in the pics of the knife online.
    I am wondering if they maybe source their blades from an American knife maker, and do their thing to finalize the end product. In any case, I really have not seen anything written about them. My curiosity is there, but with the Jacob Bromwell company not being shy on their item's pricing, I don't want to just wing it on a purchase of one. But again, the curiosity does at least have me trying to find out more about them :)

    Here is how the manufacturer describes it...

    If there’s one thing every pioneer needed back in 1819, it was a quality made pocket knife that could hold up to any task around the homestead, from cutting rope to cutting up steak. Jacob Bromwell® is pleased to re-introduce our Traditional Pocket Knife, a classic American made knife that was a part of our product line nearly 200 years ago. Our Traditional Pocket Knife features a walnut handle, brass rivets, and a hand-sharpened high carbon steel blade. It fits the hand very comfortably and the 3-inch-long blade is strong enough to handle any of those tough jobs around the camp. Each pocket knife is 100% handmade in the USA at our workshop, and we think you’ll love the classic styling of the blade and wood handle. Use it as your go-to carry piece, or for fine and rough work around the campsite or your home.

    I just checked, and believe they are going for about 125 bucks, which is not as seemingly crazy as some of their other items, (like their stainless steel $150 "tin" cup!). I mean, if it's a nice knife, $125 would be okay for a good ole American made pocketknife :)
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2019
  2. mightyzaa

    mightyzaa Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 1, 2014
    wow. do they have some beautiful stuff. thanks for the info on a company I never knew existed. looks like they have two different knives. both traditional. wording is a little vague although the knives look the same. maybe different steels. search around on their family of brands. two different prices. the search is half the fun. especially if you can save. that leaves more for the next knife you gotta have
    PocketKnifeJimmy likes this.
  3. PocketKnifeJimmy


    Aug 4, 2013
    Yup, their wording ain't too bad for it being from a company that mostly caters to "old school" kitchen flour sifters and popcorn poppers, but definitely a bit too vague about a pocket knife for us knife enthusiasts.
    They list the knife as being made at one of their work-shops, which I don't doubt, (at least for it's handle and scale side of things), but as for the blade itself, I kind'a doubt it they performed all the work. It's simply unlikely they all of the sudden started making blades and heat treating them on a whim... But, I am just guessing on all of this, since I really don't know what this knife is all about. It does look rustic, that's for sure, lol! :)

    I guess the firm has been running for a very long time, having a few different ownerships along the way, and a few slight name changes, but continuously run nonetheless. From what I gather, the Bromwell name has always been a part of the company's name, but the latest ownership decided to hearken back to the original founder by using his entire first and last name, (in signature form), as the company name and trademark. The new ownership also decided on concentrating on limiting the products to more old school and hand made in nature, to cater more to the nostalgic and hand made quality minded folks. In doing so, the prices are pretty much astronomical on most of their products, and therefore may be considered more as luxury items.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2019
  4. hhmoore

    hhmoore Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 7, 2014
    I've been looking at the (offset) Vermonter for some time... but I can't get past the ugly seams. Yeah, I know - handmade, part of the charm - but when we're talking about $300 for A FLASK, it should look like the craftsmen take some pride in their work.
  5. PocketKnifeJimmy


    Aug 4, 2013
    Yeah, I actually wondered about that myself before I decided on making my flask purchases, (those seams and all). But, after googling some pics of antique copper specimens, this was a pretty normal thing. The solder on the Bromwells is lead free, but still gray, (pure tin solder?), rather than copper colored, so that has a lot to do with it.
    I paid about half of that $300 price tag they have on their site for the ones I got. Their site sells at the full retail (MSRP), but they can be had for considerably less money from some of their outside vendors, (which is usual with such things).
    Still, even at $150, they ain't cheap, that's for sure... I definitely agree on that.
    Looking at one in hand carefully, one can really tell that very basic, (read primitive), tools were used to make these flasks. This is definitely no "assembly line" work. There is a video on their site that gives a glimpse of some of the work being done on their copper products. Definitely not a true factory, but rather, what seems to be, a nice little shop for these Artisans to perform their Coppersmithing craft.
    I would love to be able to see and handle an original copper flask from this company's beginings, (or from any other early American firms that may have made similar products) :)

    I don't believe these pocket knives I speak of, have been out for very long, so maybe the deals for them are not yet to be had. But, it gives me time to research them and ponder the idea ;)
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2019
  6. PocketKnifeJimmy


    Aug 4, 2013
    So, my researching online has turned up a good lead on how the Jacob Bromwell company got into having their flasks being made in Vermont. This short video explains the story behind it all...

    And the following short Bromwell company video clip shows a bit more about their Vermont made copper products, showing some more glimpses of their tools and methods of producing these handmade items. The video link above, and this one, really gives one a better view and understanding of why their flasks truly look and feel handmade, (and that's because they are)...

    All that said, I imagine that their pocket knives may have a similar story, where the Jacob Bromwell firm simply searched out a small knife manufacturer to make their knives for them under the Jacob Bromwell name.
    Of course that's okay, since we see this happening a lot in the business world, and it was also done back in the old days.
    I am hoping I can uncover more info concerning these Bromwell pocket knives :)
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2019
  7. The Shatz

    The Shatz

    Oct 1, 2017
    There's a company selling the knife online for 75 bucks I just found
    PocketKnifeJimmy likes this.
  8. Ernie1980

    Ernie1980 Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 19, 2012
    Maybe you should just ask them who makes the knives and get some more information about the materials, I would hope they would be quick to answer!
    Interesting product line, I did some browsing:)
    PocketKnifeJimmy likes this.
  9. PocketKnifeJimmy


    Aug 4, 2013
    That's seems like the kind of thing that big name firms try to keep under wrap.
    I sometimes, when I have an item in hand, can do some researching to find out who the actual maker is... My looking for little clues.
    I once purchased a 4oz solid pewter flask that had the Jack Daniels Black Label old #7 whiskey bottle label embossed into it, (a genuine JD company offered item). Anyhow, I knew it was Sheffield England made, (stamped right into the back side of the flask). But, nothing else was on the flask, or on the box it came in, that gave me any more clues. Then I looked at a little piece of paper that came explaining how to care for the flask. I went online to visit some English pewter makers websites, and looked up their info on "how to care for pewter. Although the basic info for that is the same, I found one pewter website that had everything word for word as written on the care instructions I received. It was the Pinder Bros. Pewter Company. When I perused their website for similar flasks, they had some identical ones, down to the same shape cap and all. Only difference was the JD label embossing on mine.
    Yup, I sometimes have things to go on, and soetimes I don't.
    The guys here helped me find out who made the Winchester branded cast Bronze handle knives I had purchased. They were made by Utica Cutlery under a Blue Grass Cutlery contract.
    We'll see about these Bromwell pocket knives... I got a feeling something will eventually pop up.
    It doesn't seem to have any tell tale signs visually speaking of who may be behind it, but the cat may spring out the bag at some point ;)

    I also enjoyed looking at some of Bromwell's goods, but sticker shock on a lot of that stuff. I had to laugh when I saw that they were selling replacement corks for their flasks at $20!!! Twenty bucks for what basically amounts to a bottle cork, (like for a bottle of wine!). They only sell USA made items, which is awesome, but a cork is a cork is a cork, lol! ;)
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2019
  10. Ernie1980

    Ernie1980 Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 19, 2012
    Jimmy- I don’t even know how USA made a cork can be since the trees don’t grow here!
  11. PocketKnifeJimmy


    Aug 4, 2013
    Yup, I bet they get their raw cork product in from another country, then cut them here in the USA, and... wah-lah, a $20 "American made" cork! ;)
    I mean, that's fine... No different than Case using imported Brazilian cattle shin bone to make their handle scales, but $20 for a very basic cork! Nah, not me, I'm sure one can buy a full bag of corks for that much!
    They also sell their other flask stopper replacement, (the birch wood one with the copper loop/ring/washer), for the amazingly low price of $35, lol! ;)
    They definitely seem to be targetting the well heeled consumer. Even so, I like some of their products, and if I can find a few along the way at reasonable prices, I may wind up putting a few more of their "gadgets" in my collection.
    The pocket knife is one that really intrigues me. At $75, as one board member above stated it can be had for on a certain website, I would likely bite, if the knife was any good and worth my collecting it.
    But, I will wait to see what more I can uncover about it. Seventy Five bucks can get me a lot of vintage knives during my Flea Market excursions, or can buy me a nice known quality new knife. So, the wait and research is prudent for me
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2019
  12. everardus bogardus

    everardus bogardus

    Jun 19, 2019
    Here's hoping my response isn't too late to save you some money. Run, do not walk, away from the Bromwell traditional pocket knife. I have been periodically picking up Bromwell pieces (mostly kitchen tools) for a few years because I do like the fact that they make some products in the U.S. that no one else seems to. Frankly, their retail pricing is usually absurd, but with some planning you can usually get things for a good discount. For instance, every July 4, the everything on the website is half off (rather strongly suggesting that there is a profit margin for them even with a 50% discount, but I digress).

    In any case, at some point by stacking a coupon and a sale I managed to grab a traditional pocket knife directly from Bromwell for $45 shipped. Even at that price, I still feel ripped off. The production quality is abominable. Bromwell indicates that it was made in their Michigan City, Indiana, shop, and I am inclined to believe that it was in fact made by someone with absolutely no experience making knives. The blade is laughably dull, the pivot is gritty, and the backspring feels weak. The handle assembly is without a doubt the worst I have ever seen, with truly inexplicable problems. Somehow, neither the liners nor the back of the scales seem to be flat. Both curve back and forth leaving a variable gap in between. I really can't figure out how they ended up with a wavy liner; it looks like instead of simply using prerolled metal they had a "craftsman" attempt to hand-hammer a lump of steel into a liner.

    Even from a design standpoint, this knife is a mess. It is bizarrely large--too big to fit comfortably in a pocket and, in my opinion, too big as a slipjoint to be practical. The other thing that ruins the design for me is the logo--while the entire knife seems to emphasize the imperfections of being handmade the old-fashioned way (putting the best possible spin on the various quality issues), the blade has a large and clumsy JACOB BROMWELL logo laser etched on the side. This lasered logo feels completely incongruous with the rest of the knife, and I can see why they don't include it in photos.

    I'll try to upload some photos of the knife tonight so you can get a better idea for the basis of my complaints. But in the meantime, save your money for picking up vintage blades, nearly any of which are certain to be made to a higher standard than this.
    Cutfinger and PocketKnifeJimmy like this.
  13. Misplaced Hillbilly

    Misplaced Hillbilly Gold Member Gold Member

    May 16, 2018
    I hate when companies do this, that they think something handmade has to be crude to illustrate the fact. Almost always the opposite is true, we often lament the fact "thing aren't built like they used to". I recently was in a house built in the 30's with a hip roof. The rafters met at a stringer perfectly symmetrical,so tightly fitted that still you'd be hard pressed to push a pin in the joint. This being a compound miter, hand sawn and nailed mind you. THAT was the quality of the ROUGH carpentry. Slapping "hand made" and "rustic" label on poor craftsmanship is inexcusable imo. So is $20 for a corko_O:thumbsdown:, I can buy a 100 corks at the craft store for $2-3.
    WValtakis, Shurke, Cutfinger and 2 others like this.
  14. PocketKnifeJimmy


    Aug 4, 2013
    Thank you, Sir! I actually did see a few closer pics online of their knife offering, and was well turned off by what I was seeing. So, I decided to X it out of any further consideration.
    I do still appreciate the sharing of your thoughts, observations, and your opinion.
    Thank you again, Sir! :)
  15. Cutfinger

    Cutfinger Gold Member Platinum Member Gold Member

    Aug 3, 2017
    I remember coming across that website a year or so ago, after an image search for 'American made knives' or something like that. The pictures of the knife revealed the poor craftsmanship, but not an etch. I thought it had potential, if it was robust. I never did buy one to find out. Too bad, I like the spear, and the large size.

    I would like that knife if it was well made. Crude I can handle, but not sloppy/crappy construction.

  16. abcdef


    Oct 28, 2005
    I always view nostalgia based makers charging astronomical prices with a jaundiced eye. There are some true craftspeople out there, but it seems to be easy to produce advertising evincing yesteryear and sell just about anything. However, people can spend their money any way they please.

    Yeah, thumbs down on the knife.
  17. PocketKnifeJimmy


    Aug 4, 2013
    I don't know who exactly is making those JB pocket knives, but the Flasks are done by a gentleman in Vermont that had already established his artisan coppersmithing business under his own brand (Vermont Copper Inc.).
    Vermont Copper Inc. was contacted by the Bromwell company to make them under contract for them.
    I don't know how many of the other products JB products are done this way, (contracted out), or if the rest are maybe done in their own facilities. That being the case, it's seems like the overall quality of their products are going to vary from product to product, (depending on who is actually making them).
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2019

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