The charm of folding knives

Our store often stocks small British antique folding knives.
Of course, there are large antique knives, but there are legal restrictions on importing knives with a blade length of 15 cm or more, so we mainly sell small knives.

You may not have much of an image of cutlery in Britain today, but during the Industrial Revolution that began in the 18th century, the cutlery industry developed around Sheffield, producing excellent cutlery.
After World War I, the best British cutlery craftsmen immigrated to the United States, and the British cutlery industry declined.

In Japan, there has been a folding knife called Higonokami for a long time, and even today, small folding knives such as those made by Victorinox are popular, especially among outdoor enthusiasts.
I think many men in particular are attracted to these small knives.
It seems that British gentlemen of old used to keep these folding knives in their waistcoat pockets as a necessity, and there are still many folding knives left today.

pen knife

pen knifepen knife

A ``pen knife'' is a small knife used to sharpen the tip of a pen called a ``quill'', which is a type of dip pen made from bird feathers.
Quill pens were used as the primary writing instrument until the mid-19th century.

Since the blade is simply shaved and shaped, the blade does not need to be very hard or sharp, and is often made of pure silver (sterling silver).
Many of the handles are made of mother-of-pearl, and some have beautiful decorations on their handles and sterling silver blades, making these knives very beautiful to look at.

Few people use quill pens these days, and their use as knives is limited because they are small and the blade is made of soft sterling silver.
If you have a larger one, you can use it as a fruit knife, which I will explain later, or as a letter opener for opening envelopes.

fruit knife

fruit knifefruit knife

This knife is slightly larger than a penknife and was used for peeling fruits.
Many of the blades here are also made of pure silver, and since carbon steel blades would easily rust due to fruit acid, pure silver was used.
Since stainless steel became popular, some blades have been made of stainless steel.

At a time when fruit itself was valuable and expensive, it was the wealthy who owned these knives.
Many have elaborate decorations on the white pearl shell or sterling silver handles.

multi-tool, cigar knife

multi toolcigar cutter

A multi-tool is a folding knife that comes with multiple tools such as a pen, file, corkscrew, etc.
Even today, there are multi-tools such as Victorinox, but there are also antique tools like this, and they have a surprisingly long history.

A cigar knife is a small knife that is used to cut the tip of a cigar when smoking.
There are many small items like Albert chain fobs that are easy to carry around.

Compared to the above-mentioned pen knives and fruit knives, multi-tools and cigar knives tend to have a simpler design because their practicality is more important.
Since many of the blades are made of carbon steel, many of them have deteriorated due to rust, and there are not many left.


Antique folding knives are small, do not take up much space, and many have beautiful decorations.
There are relatively many penknives left, so you can get some of them cheaply as antiques, making them a great place to start buying antiques.
It also has the appeal of being useful in everyday life, such as as a letter opener.