Monday, December 16, 2013

The History of Modern Specialties Company

The Modern Specialties Company was founded in 1930, Chicago, Illinois, by August J Lurie.  Modern was his original name for the company.  Lurie was the inventor of Modern’s unique line of utility knife and safety knife products, including the specially designed replacement blades.  Modern’s early success was based on his innovatively designed and patented products.

A.J. Lurie invented the first safety knife and trademarked them “KuttO”as well as his utility products which he trademarked “UtillO”.  He patented some of Modern’s products which include patents US2128151, US2187590, US2241608, US2978807, US3178812, US3184843 and his currently known patents range from the years of 1938 to 1965.  Mr. Lurie became very ill at age 94.  He went to the office every day until that time.  He was hospitalized for three years until he died in Chicago, Illinois at age 97 in 1979.   

Modern Specialties was originally located at 4140 Harrison Street and was later moved to Ogden Avenue in a new building that Lurie built for the company.  Modern Specialties went up for auction in early 1981 as Lurie’s primary funds were in the care of the Northern Trust Bank with a million dollars going to Michael Reese Hospital and another million going to Mt. Sinai Hospital.  Robert Dean and Gerissa A. French bid on Modern Specialties and won.  Robert Dean French, a retired naval commander, moved Modern to its prime location at 661 West Lake Street in Chicago, Illinois.  The trademarks were renewed and the trademark “Modern Roofer” replaced the “UtillO” trademark.

The company’s goal is, and always has been, to provide quality products for the best value and to provide complete customer satisfaction with the best possible customer service.  Modern has a A+ BBB business review rating.  The Modern website is and a free smart phone App is available in the Apple IOS marketplace as well as in the Google Play, Android marketplace.

                Modern’s products are still built to the same original specifications, today


Unknown said...

I have an original utility knife from the company. It has the name "Utillo" on it. I was going to get rid of it but decided to keep after I read the history of the company.

Unknown said...

I found a utility knife that belonged to my dad and im trying to figure out just how old it is.It saysKUTTO Pat2187590 and it was at the Ogden address.i love all his old stuff just wish hed given me the stories before he passed at 93.

Unknown said...

Safeway used to issue the Kutto to employees, I have one with the Pat 2187590 and Ogden address that was issued to me in 1962

Unknown said...

I recently found at an estate sate, a Kutto, with a patent date of 1/16/40. I am going to restore it. Scoutcrafter has a Youtube channel, where he restores one.