Frederick Paolantonio. Born in Frosolone,Italy. This story starts with him. Frosolone, much like Sheffield, England and Solingen, Germany is known for its cutlery that is a large part of the local industry.
Fredrick arrived in America in 1903 already a skilled cutler. Having no trouble finding work he first lives in Providence R.I. working in the cutlery shop of Mr.J.M.Schmidt. After that he moved to Winsted, Connecticut where he worked for years at Empire Knife Company.
In 1914 he moved to Meridian, Connecticut and began working for Miller Bros Cutlery Company as a foreman. After working for Miller Bros for years, he and someone he worked with at Miller Bros started the Meriden Knife Company to make knife skeletons to sell to the Miller Bros company.
Later Fredrick sold his interest in the company to the other owner. In 1920 he started the P.& S.Cutlery Co.to manufacture knife skeletons and paring knives. After only 1 year he sells this company to Imperial Knife Company and went to work for them back in Providence as their assembly room foreman.
While Fredrick Paolantonio worked in the American Cutlery industry his 2 brothers were still working as cutlers back in Frosolone. In 1910 Dominick Frosolone came to American and went to work at Empire knife Co with Fredrick. The following year Anthony Paolantonio also comes to America and goes to work with his brothers at Empire.
After Fredrick decides to leave Empire and pursues his own business, Anthony and Dominick also decide to start their own company in 1917. They called Providence Cutlery Company.
With World War 1 beginning, Anthony leaves the business to his brother Dominick and joins the US Army where he works as a blacksmith.
Anthony comes back from the war in 1920 and starts his own successful company, the A.Paolantonio Cutlery Company in Providence. In 1925 Dominick sells his company and joins back up with Anthony at his company. In 1926 Fredrick leaves Imperial and the 3 brothers are back together again. In the loft on Calendar Street in Providence where the A.Paolantonio business had been,they start the Colonial Knife Co.
The 3 brothers soon outgrew the loft and in 1926 they bought a big 2 story brick building. It must not have been long before they started running out of room again. A few years later they began construction of a huge factory. This factory would become the 2nd largest manufacturer of pocket knives in the world.
In the picture below men are making the foundation for what will be the new Colonial Knife Co factory in the 1930’s. You can also see the red brick building where Colonial made its first knives. Its the tall one in the center to the left of the construction work. They continued to substantially expand this facility for years to come, at times producing thousands of pocket knives every week.
Below is an old page from Paine’s Cutlery Journal about the beginning of Colonial. I have never been able to find the rest of the article but the first page is pretty interesting. It shows a good picture of the front of the brick building where the first Colonial knives were made. It also has pictures of Fredrick, Dominick and Anthony. Old pictures sure can be funny. Fredrick looks proud, Dominick looks confident and Anthony looks like he saw a ghost ha ha.
Below is a picture of a knife from my collection made by Miller Bros where Fredrick worked before Colonial.
Below is a picture of a knife from my collection made by Prov Cut Co. Dominick and Anthony Paolantonio formed this company in Providence R.I. in 1917 and it was sold in 1925. The amazing Robert Anthony Paolantonio(1958-2014), grandson of Fredrick, identified this knife at All About Pocket Knives.com as being made by his uncles between 1917 and 1920. I am lucky to have it in my collection.