They are highly collectible—the Case Collectors Club has about 18, members, who collect by model pattern , handle material and year among other characteristics. Case makes it easy, with a system of stamps, to identify a knife as an original Case and to identify it by its pattern, year of manufacture and composition of steel. Locate the stamps at the base of the blade. There may be one stamp on either side. The stamps will be on the largest blade of a multiblade folding knife.
Case has introduced 33 distinct tang stamps since for its folding knives, and 17 stamps on its fixed-blade knives. See References for a complete gallery, which will also help you to identify the years of manufacture.
Look for distinctive elements on the tang stamp: The dots are a dating convention that the company introduced in It would remove one dot per year for 10 years, such that a blade produced in had 10 dots, one produced in had nine dots, and so on. The lightning S's are simply a design element introduced in Absence of those elements dates your blade as pre This will be on the largest blade of a multiblade knife.
This number for example, tells you much about the knife. The first digit signifies the handle material; Case uses distinctive, mostly natural handle materials, such as buffalo horn, stag horn and even mammoth tusk.
The second number signifies the number of blades. A pattern stamp of signifies a three-bladed knife. The last two or more digits and letters 18 in our example signify the model of knife, what Case calls the pattern. The number at the end of the pattern stamp on a fixed blade knife usually signifies the blade length--thus, the numbers signify a 5-inch bladed 65 pattern.
Locate a blade abbreviation—usually under the pattern stamp on the largest blade of a folding knife but sometimes on a smaller blade. Case describes several dozen abbreviations for individual knife attributes and combines two or more of these in a blade abbreviation. The blade abbreviation HPSS is a combination of HP signifying that the knife has a sheep foot and a spay blade and SS signifying that the blades are stainless steel.
See References for a short list of these abbreviations. Case uses the bone of Brazilian zebu cattle, which is dense and durable, on many of its patterns. Most knife manufacturers introduce some jigging pattern into handles, but Case has the largest variety and a few proprietary jigging patterns. Tip All of the above will help you narrow down your knife to a model, year and more. When in doubt as to the manufacturer, simply look for the word "Case" in the tang stamp.
Case maintains an excellent website with comprehensive resources. But the Case media relations department identified a second-party resource—the website AllAboutPocketKnives. There you may search by pattern number and pattern name.