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R. Murphy

Murphy "Stay Sharp" knives are the result of more than 150 years of knife manufacturing experience. Since 1850, the company has produced cutlery for professionals in almost every field. The very finest steels are carefully developed into blades that are accurately hardened and tempered, precision ground, polished and hand honed. Murphy craftsmen produce cutting tools that "Stay Sharp" and provide maximum performance and service.

Murphy Company, Inc., as it is now known, was established in 1850 in Boston, MA, by John Murphy, who was listed in the 1851 Boston City Directory as a cutler. In 1854 his brother, Robert, joined him to form J & R Murphy, which made dental and surgical instruments. In 1862 the brothers moved to a larger building in Mansfield, MA, where they were able to expand their line, adding a great variety of fine cutlery, including oyster knives, shoe knives, paperhangers’ knives, cigar knives, pruning shears, buttonhole cutters, tobacco shears, pinking irons, butter tryers, cheese tryers, can openers, cork screws, cigar box openers, and skates. They imported their steel from England and employed skilled craftsmen from there as well as from Germany, Europe’s two leaders in producing quality cutlery, to work with the local craftsmen in their shop.

Robert Murphy eventually took over the business and by 1906, he and his sons, John and Edward, moved the business to Ayer, MA where it is still in business today. In 1913, John and Edward incorporated the company under the name Robert Murphy’s Sons Co. By 1925 they had again expanded their line and coined their logo, STAY SHARP. By 1934 they had trademarked the STAY SHARP logo with the diamond in the center and the name R. Murphy Knives: MADE SHARP and STAY SHARP.

Murphy continued through the years in this fashion, successfully adding to their product line (butcher knives, filleting knives, and sportsman’s knives, to name a few), advertising, and selling their fine cutlery products on into the 1940s and 50s under the guidance of the Murphy sons, John and Edward. After both brothers had died the business to Mr. William Maxant, in 1954, who kept the Murphy name, changing it to R. Murphy Company, Inc. William Maxant and his wife, Helen, enjoyed their successful knife business for fifteen years and then sold it to the Bethke family, owners of the Concord Oil Co. of MA, in 1969.

Douglas A. Bethke ran R. Murphy Knife for the family. When Doug retired, he sold the business to its current owners – just the fourth owner for Murphy in its 160 years –Mark A. Furman and his wife, Mimi Younkins in May of 2009 and proudly maintains the high standards of quality knife production set so long ago by John and Robert Murphy, and trademarked by John and Edward Murphy: MADE SHARP and STAY SHARP.

One of R. Murphy Knives specialities are their famous oyster knives―whether a Boston pattern, the Providence model, the New Haven, Chesapeake, Seattle, Gulf, not to mention a new one, the Duxbury, they make them all. “All oyster knives work,’’ says Furman, but shuckers have their preferences, and Furman says, “You give the customer what they want.’’ If what the customer wants is a knife - almost any kind of knife – Murphy is the maker. Oyster-openers are one small category. Knives for scallops, clams, and crabs; for cooking and filleting; for hunting and fishing; carving and whittling; rubber and leather; and more. Many are versatile in unexpected ways. Since 1850 R. Murphy Co. of Ayer, MA is where each knife is produced using a handcrafted manufacturing process for unparalleled quality and a more consistent edge. They are the third oldest, continuously operating, and smallest artisanal knife factories left in America.

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