The Wharncliffe whittler pocket knife gets its name because the larger primary is a Wharncliffe blade. The two secondary smaller blades are traditionally a pen and spear point. The blade (and hence the frame) came from England during the 1820’s, where Lord Wharncliffe, as he put it, set about to tackle the “lack of innovation” the cutlery industry had experienced. In collaboration with Joseph Rodgers & Sons the blade design was born.
The Wharncliffe blade (and hence the frame) is favored by sailors. The large sloping back of the blade reduces risk of damaging their work or puncturing their hands in the unsteady environment of a ship. The tip is pointed which, unlike a Sheepsfoot, allows for some puncturing, and the straight edge can slice off wider swaths of wood than a Clip Point.
A whittler pocket knife frame is a three blade pen knife with a large blade on one end, and two small blades at the back, at least that’s the official definition. More…the knife has two springs – the two small blades work on one spring each, while the large blade bears on both springs. This is the original definition of a whittler pocket knife, but this conflicts with the actual usage of the term “whittler” by knife manufacturers.
Typically, a whittler pocket knife can be determined by its placement of one large primary blade (a Wharncliffe in the case of the Wharncliffe whittler) on the front, while two smaller blades reside on the back end. Often times, the head bolster is slightly larger with the primary anchored to it. Then, the handle narrows toward the back end.