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Remington Cutlery and Peters Men

Adopted from an Instagram post. Photos at the bottom.

If you’ve ever been through Cincinnati, you’ve probably heard of Kings Island. And If you haven't - think ‘Cedar Point’ or ‘6 Flags’. Right behind this locale of leisure lies the little ‘hamlet’ of Kings Mills (see what I did there?!). Sitting on the banks of the Little Miami River, it played a central role in the formation of the United States as it was home to Peters Cartridge Company and Kings Powder Company. All that’s left are a couple of majestic warehouse buildings full of hipsters doing what hipsters do, but just a few years ago this thing stood abandoned and was an EPA superfund site full of mercury, lead, and other fun elements from that periodic chart you avoided like the plague in high school. Now, you don’t have to worry about that chart - just the plague...

Alright, I told you that story so that I can tell you about another story. Photo #2 is from a Remington Cutlery Sales handbook from 1937. It is basically a pre-season sales bible for the district sales guys that details regional info, a big push on in-store displays (photo #3,) sales quotas (photo #4), and education (photo #5). Keeping with the confines of a ‘short’ post here, I won’t talk through the whole document, but I did want to highlight the quota and bonus program on page 41. The program was called the ‘1937 Prize Contest for Remington and Peters Men,’ and is featured in photo #2.

In the past few years I have glossed over references to Peters men in a few Remington documents and I was rereading this sales communication last month when it dawned on me what this reference was to - and that’s the Peters Cartridge Company. Now some of you into long guns might already know about Peters, but I did not. So here’s some interesting information for you!

Peters is actually an offshoot of Kings Powder Company (early view in photo #6) that sat across the Little Miami River from Peters (see photo #7 for a view of both.) Kings at one time was one of the biggest black-powder companies in the states. It also acquired the patent for making smokeless, or semi-smokeless powder, which gave it a competitive advantage over all other powder companies for a good decade or so until Remington came out with their own similar patent and product.

A couple of tidbits of info on the powder company: On July 15, 1890, a collision of train cars at the mill set off an explosion that killed 12 men, and created fires that pretty much leveled most of the operating buildings on site including a railroad station and part of the town. The site was home to countless other explosions including one that shattered windows of homes 30 miles away, another that was reportedly heard over 100 miles away. On March 1st, 1886, 2,500 kegs of powder went off, creating a crater 10-15 feet deep (reports vary) and causing an earthquake felt in both Cincinnati and Columbus. Many other explosions over the years resulted in numerous deaths. There are so many fascinating stories, not to mention pertinent history related to the powder works, that it would take hours to cover, so we’ll leave it here on this topic.

Anyway, back to Peters. In 1885, old Joe King (photo #8) died and left the powder business to his son-in-law - the Rev. Gershom Moore Peters (photo #9). Although a committed Baptist preacher, the reverend was known for his tinkering abilities. And at about the same time he took over the powder company, he patented the first power-driven cartridge loading machine for shotgun shells; and in 1887, the Peters Cartridge company was founded. This was key to the survival of the powder business, as by the late 1880s, most brass manufacturers had figured out how to make their own powder.

Remington Arms purchased the Peters Cartridge Company in May of 1934 for $2.5 million. Interestingly, While I have not come across any further documentation explaining the role in Remington Cutlery by Peters, I would Imagine that tapping into Peter's existing sales force and incentivizing them to not only call on their customers to sell brass, but cutlery as well, was quite likely. So that explains that one lonely reference to Peters men on page 37 - yeah I know - its a roundabout story, but hey, history is like that my friends!

If you are interested in reading more of this sales handbook from 1937, a subscription to Knife Magazine will gain you access to their trove of historical documents - including this one.

Thanks for reading along and as a little token of my appreciation - photo #10 is one I took and features one of the many powder caves in the side of the hill above the Peters Cartridge factory - something for the hipsters to explore. And for all of those hipsters offended by this post - you’re by no means original - ‘ol Rev. Peters was wearing your hair cut long before your grammy and grandpappy ever met (photo #9.)


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