The South River Cutlery Company took its name from the river that gave the water power needed for the town's industry. The cutlery company opened in 1851 in Burkeville, to the east of Conway center, and it eventually employed 135. But it was operating in an intensely competitive environment, with major rivals such as the John Russell Company and Lampson & Goodnow close by. In 1858, the South River company went bankrupt.
This knife is typical for its time: a solid, mid-range piece with a steel blade and bone handle, it would have been used by a middle- or upper-middle class family.