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Effingham FYI

  I have decided that it is time to set the record straight concerning the blade steel used on most of the Effingham era carbon steel bladed knives. Officially the company always said it was 0-170-6. According to Mike Stewart former BlackJack CEO, in most cases it's actually 1095 or 52-100. This was done because Sharon Steel which was the company that made 0-170-6 went out of business in 1988. By about 1991 supplies were drying up. Since 0-170-6 is really an improved version of 1095, many companies who were using the former switched to the latter. Including BlackJack. This was until 1992 or so when according to Mike Stewart the company switched to 52-100. Mike told me they bought their first heat lot of 52-100 in 1992 and also stated at the time it took about a year to actually get a heat lot after the order was placed.

Here is a bit of an outline of the Company's Effingham history provided by Jason Stewart son of company founder Mike Stewart. This is actually the second part of his original post. The first part is in the Early Years FYI section.

 "In late October of 1991, Mike and his family packed up and headed to Effingham, IL.

For the first few years, the move was the best thing to happen to the company. Sales were way up, production was established in the United States and importing from Japan was eventually eliminated.

Ek was purchased in 1993 and Mike moved the production from Japan (yes, many of the later Richmond Ek knives were made in Japan, PRIOR to the Blackjack purchase...sorry to break the news, guys) to the United States. Many said the quality suffered, but most I've seen complain about the quality didn't realize they were holding on to a Richmond Ek that was sold from the inventory purchased in the acquisition.

Blackjack was given accolades for its series of knives based on the traditional manufacturing methods of Marble's and Randall. The model 1-7, Model 5, Trailguide, Chukker, Woodsman and Stalker all became favorites among outdoorsman, everywhere.

Production was high, sales were even higher and the company, just a few short years after its creation was about to be in the black.

NOW...here's where the drama starts. Since the success of the company was apparent, some of the investors collaborated with each other to steal money from the company. A couple of the investors had some "inside" people to help do their dirty work. The money was quickly channeled out of Blackjack and the working capital was being drastically exhausted.

Mike Stewart, now a minority stock holder and employee of Blackjack was outvoted by the crooked investors during board meetings when he wanted the shady-employees fired (not yet knowing that that these employees were in the back pocket of the investors). One crooked employee, however, got the best of his investor friends and disappeared, one day, with his own share of the booty.

Mike Stewart began to pour every penny he had in to Blackjack to save the company. Unfortunately, his efforts were in vain and the company closed its doors in August of 1997. Recognized for his knife making knowledge and abilities, Mike was offered a job by Marble Arms, in Gladstone, MI. I was now old enough to actively participate in the process, so I too moved up to Gladstone to help revive the fledgling company. Marble's is now recognized, once again, as a superior manufacturer of knives in the USA."