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The History of Pocketknives

Updated: Oct 6, 2020

Pocketknives have been around for a long time, probably because it’s one of the best and most versatile tools ever made.

This first pocketknives, which were found in ruins dating back to 500 to 600 BC, had a handle made of bone. Similar folding knives have been found with Roman military and Viking artifacts. The original design was a good one, because it’s still used today.

Of course, though, there were improvements over time, with the main one being the changeover to metal. Metalworkers in England were the first to make the first slip joint knife with a spring action.

In the 1890s, knife maker Victorinox made some progressive changes: Victorinox developed a knife that Swiss soldiers could use to open canned food. Pivot-point mechanisms were added to them, which made it possible to insert many other handy tools. The Swiss Army Knife is still the benchmark for pocketknives today.

Once the Swiss Army Knife demonstrated the possibilities of what a pocketknife could do, many variations popped up. The slip joint knife locked the blade into place to keep the blade under control while open or closed.

The Opinel brand, which originated in France, came up with 12 different knives designed for various tasks. Other brands soon followed these two trailblazers, with Buck knives and Gerber establishing themselves in the early 1900s.

The Barlow knife featured a second blade; the Camper was basically styled after the Swiss Army knife; the Canoe knife featured a blade on either end; the Congress knife is a slip joint with four blades – two on each side; the Peanut knife, which is just small; the Pen knife, which was originally used for sharpening writing quills; and the Sodbuster, also known as the Peasant Knife.

To find out more about knives from The Medford Guy, make a call or send an email to 608-213-4869 or

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