R HOE typesetter pocket knives

R Hoe folding pocket knives are somewhat rare. In own 4 of the only 5 “typesetter models” made specifically for the R HOE Co and am uniquely familiar with them. I’ve been preparing to write an article about them for the last few years and have given talks to knife collector groups of their existence. I’ve researched and tracked sales of them for the last 25+yrs. Should your pockets be overflowing, please be careful when buying such an item on ebay as only this last year have I noticed ones with FAKE “BLADE” etchings. The knife and manufacturer are real, but the R HOE blade etchings are FAKE, usually done to inflate a value of a worn example. Unusual R HOE items don’t show up that regularly and to think that someone is exploiting fakes which muddy the waters I find troublesome.
Please also note that folding pocket knives with HOE stamped on the outside oval emblem were produced for the saw division company at later dates and are not the “typesetter knives” to which I reference.

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Can you post some pictures? I am not familiar with these knives.



This was just on eBay. Basically a pen knife with a bodkin.

image: hoe.typesetter.knife_.jpg


Knife posted in the above photo appears to have etching that was not professionally done as are the other examples in my collection. The knife was made by Chas Langbein and marketed in the US. A knife currently listed by the same manufacturer has even greater doubts of wearing the original etching.

Please forgive me, but I prefer not to post pictures of my collection until I’ve finished the article. Posting items has always proven to my own collecting detriment. Other printer’s pocket knives were made in Europe but I have focused only on American made manufactures. To the best of my knowledge, R Hoe was the only US company to have marketed such a knife with name attached, even though it is shown in other early foundry cataloges. Since the earliest knife in my collection has already been noted in an older issue of APA Journal, I will share its’ link.
The original main blade was broken and it is shown in photo with a re-creation. The broken tang on the original blade showed that the knife was a combined effort of J Swain & R Hoe.

Yeah, the eBay knife is not at all like the one pictured in your APA article, which has blade, bodkin and tweezers. The eBay handle seems to be an older style too. Does it conform to any other Hoe knives? A bodkin doesn’t seem to be a common thing in pocket knives.


Thanks for the photo - One is enough to satisfy my curiosity.


Judging by the rarity, the pocket knife combination of tweezers (aka spring bodkin) and a bodkin (awl) did not prove to be a success with compositors. Perhaps too awkward and heavy. Dropping such a knife on a form could easily damage lead type. Doubtful that such a knifes’ true purpose was passed on when it changed hands and left the printing office.

Remotely similar blades were found as leather punch blades on “stockman” pocket knives and were very popular with cattle ranchers.

Tweezers alone, or a combination of a tweezers with a folding bodkin proved more realistic and successful. I have American examples marked by both R Hoe & Golding and were found listed in their early catalogues. The small tool was also found to be useful by Civil War medics. A couple of my better examples were found preserved in field kits.