Donnerstag, 26. Juli 2012

A collection of German pocket knives-aspects of a culture

 This is a part of my collection of pocket knives. (Top to bottom: Otter "Notschlachter", 1.4110 100 mm blade, á virole lockback, brass bolster, stag antler scales, Schlieper 440C 85 mm blade, nickelsilver bolster, stag antler scales, Hartkopf 1.4110 85 mm blade, nickel silver bolsters, stag antler scales, Hubertus 1.4109 110 mm blade, 1.4034 saw and corkscrew, nickel silver bolsters, Sambar stag antler scales, Hubertus 1.4109 90 mm blade, 1.4034 pen blade 55 mm, corkscrew, nickel silver bolster, Sambar stag antler scales, Hartkopf 1.4110 76 mm blade, nickel silver bolsters and inlay, ebony scales, Hubertus 1.4109 85 mm blade, art nouveau nickel silver bolsters, paper micarta scales, David Everts 440C 85mm blade, stainless steel bolster, Makassar ebony scales, Boker carbon steel 110 mm blades, Sambar stag scales and nickel silver bolsters).

When I was into knife collecting, I put this collection together because of a historical and morphological approach- and because I NEEDED ´em so bad, of course;-). The Solingen pocket knife, the "Hippekniep" is a speciality that has influenced many types of knives around. While in the South of Germany people wore fixed knives as part of their every day attire, (1800+), the civilian fashion dictated a more discreet approach in the North of Germany. I take this to be a sign and relic of the Hanse and trader´s culture where it could be seen as an offence to wear weapons in the presence of a business partner, at least it was seen as a peasant´s custom. Fashion dictated a small and light "gentlemen´s" knife, which had a slip joint mechanism in the 1800s. A large, fixed knife was used for working on a farm or when hunting. Restrictive laws surprisingly were not as big an issue as may seem, for men of the upper classes wore rapiers and sabers, at least after the 1870´s on formal occasions. The Knigge directive that a gentleman should always walk on the right side of his lady has something to do with the fact that the rapier or saber was worn on the left. If the left hand was occupied by the arm of the lady, the right hand was free for defence purposes. In WW I there was a drastic change. The proud cavalry regiments who set out to battle with flowers on their rifles and helmets were hacked to mincemeat by artillery and machine gun fire-something to think about for every warmonger, if you ask me. In the narrow trenches sabers and rapiers often were a lethal hindrance. Theatre weapons were ground to poignards and daggers and trench knives, until the ordonnance catched up with reality. Having talked to some survivors of that war when I was a child - and I am very glad I had the opportunity- those few that dared to talk about their experiences (and most still trembled and cried at the mere thought of it), I can tell WW I, and especially the trench war must have been hell on earth. Men and horses crying, the air thick with poison gas, and comrades hacked to mincemeat hanging in the barbed wire, wounded, but impossible to tend to, people dying all over the place, from fever, rot, bullets, poison gas, grenades, bullets and insanity. I think the short story "La ferme morte" by Ernst Wiechert 
transports the spirit of the situation best. Unfortunately, the link is only available in German, and I have no permission to translate it. WW I is crucial to the understanding of the Solingen pocket knife and a big part of German psychology. The proud regiments of the "Reichsgründung", and the fragile self-confidence of the new German state were hacked to mincemeat. Young people of every nation died in that war, and all just because of the death of one person! It´s always old people warmongering and talking and young people dying. However, while it was a caesura in the psychological history of nations all over the world, it was as well for the young German nation. But, if the need arises, and the need is strong enough, any individual will swallow his pride and grind down his saber and pride himself (and herself!) in carrying a knife instead. In WW I the fighting knife in its modern form was born and took the place of the saber or rapier-and even sword. Ernst Wiechert again was it who stated: "Not the sword is the symbol of our time. It is the whip and the tank." Nowadays one could add the credit card. Put it in behind the whip.;-) Were wearing a knife it a sign of being countrified at first, soldiers proudly displayed their ceremonial poignards, daggers and trench knives, and while there now actually were trench knives handed out by ordonnance, many of them were bought from private money. Privateers however, took a similar pride in their pocket knives. Students were presented with a pen knife. The word itself hints of its original use. The pen knife originally was used to trim the tips of feather pens / quills to be able to write. The pen knife for travelling had many different blades in many shapes. There were most beautiful examples, some of the most attractive being produced in Sheffield. The "Hippekniep", which originated in the North of Germany, originally meaning "sickle/ billhook knife" originally was a farming tool with a folding billhook, sickle or "Hepchen" sheepfoot blade around a palm´s width length used for pruning trees and harvesting herbs, soon evolved into a multitude of shapes, the most common being a spearpoint blade. Very common also was a straight back blade with an upswept tip in line with the spine. This was known as a "Notschlachter" (emergency butchering blade) used to butcher lifestock on a farm that could not be saved and where a bigger knife was not at hand. The blade was typically around 100 mm long and often had an à virole lockback system, but for the most part, came with a slipjoint mechanism. The form "mineur"
in France and the sodbuster in the USA and the UK have the same characteristics. Who influenced whom cannot be said. From the most eloquent pen knives and the crude farming tools evolved a species of pocket knives with a wide range of uses, known as "gentlemen knives", "tourist knives"(Solingen) or "officer´s / military knives" referring to the swiss military knife variety. There was a kind of reinfluence towards the trench knife variety, as evident e.g. in the multi-blade trench knife. In the disarmament of German populace that followed WWII most any knives were classified as lethal weapons, but slipjoint and folding knives were still socially acceptable. In the 1950´s fixed blade knives were allowed again. Interestingly, there was an amount of social control arising that prohibited people from carrying the so-called pathfinder and "Fahrtenmesser" (sheath knives) in public for a longer period of time. They were tauted as "forbidden" and socially not acceptable. Pocket knives were, and they were the pride of many male (and female) citizens still. In the 1950´s, there was a heigh time of hunting and folding knives in Solingen only paralleled by the time between the world wars. The art of the cutlers reached a peak. Now to the knives:
 Top to bottom: Hartkopf gentleman knife, 76 mm 1.4110 blade, lockback, ebony scales with nickel silver bolsters. Hubertus gentleman hunting knife, 85 mm 1.4109 lockback blade, paper micarta scales and beautiful art nouveau nickel silver bolsters. David Everts pocket hunting knife, 85 mm 440 C (1.4125) lockback blade with a mechanism typical of Solingen hunting knives, Makassar ebony scales.
 Hubertus pocket knife, 90 mm 1.4109 lockback main blade, 1.4034 pen blade and corkscrew, nickel silver bolsters and Sambar stag antler scales.

 Schlieper pocket knife, ca, 1960, carbon steel blades, "Säbelskniep" (bowie style) and spear point, and corkscrew, bone scales and steel bolster. Above a Schlieper slipjoint sodbuster with carbon steel blade and paper micarta scales.
 Top to bottom:  Herbertz slip joint pen knife, 70 mm 1.4034 main blade, 55 mm pen blade, ca. 1980. Boker slip joint pen knife, 70 and 55 mm blades, 1.4034, corkscrew, jigged black bone. A very special Hermann Konejung knife, which was a journeyman admission piece, not stamped. Carbon steel blades, 70 and 55 mm, Acrylite scales, hand filed corkscrew, ca. 1955.
 An "Adelskniep" (nobleman´s knife) slipjoint knife, 85 mm main, 55 mm pen blade, nail file, corkscrew, and a speciality: A champagne hook used to open the wrapping of champagne bottles, Gebrüder Gräfrath 1952.
 Two detail photos of the admission test knife by a Hermann Konejung apprentice.
 The handfiled corkscrew.
 A pre-1940??? knife (see the tin can opener) of unknown provenience. Carbon steel blades. Cap lifter, tin can opener, awl, philips screwdriver, Bakelite scales.

A big favourite of mine, an Otter "Hippekniep" at its best. Slipjoint with a half stop. Carbon steel blade, bolster, spring, cocobolo scales. 80 mm length, and cuts like the proverbial devil. C 100 steel.

Many of these knives have been the companion of the individuals that carried them. They cut sticks and orange peels, paper, bacon, bread and onions, loose threads on the suit and they all tell a story. All over the world there are knives like these. Some are used hard and loved harder, some spend the life of their owner sitting in a box, being loved no less for it. And, I daresay, none of these knives have ever killed anybody. Even the trench knives will not have killed anybody most of the time. Chance is, they cut bread and cheese and rope and wood most of the time. Knives mirror the culture into which they are born, and their development has never known frontiers. To be precise, knives are a very crucial part of our culture. The socially acceptable use of knives is an essential part of being a human, and it shall be a human right to do so, in my opinion. The expressions of the art of cutlery making, and the celebration of using it in cooking, woodworking, eating, picknicking and all those many other uses one could think of should be subject to protection. A knife can be, psychologically speaking, a way to shape one´s world according to one´s wishes. It is crucial to be prepared, and gives its owner the feeling to be capable of positioning him or herself in the world. In many cultures, and first and foremostly the culture we live in, the presenting of a knife to a male individual was a sign of manhood. Modified towards modern terms, one could say, it is a symbol of taking responsibility and, in turn, being able to shape one´s path, regardless of gender.

Taking a knife from humans by restrictive weapon laws that hit the majority of socially adequate and law - abiding users, is a symptom of the barbarianism that is so common in this world.

To promote a socially acceptable use of knives, is a big goal for me, and while I understand limitations on weapons and firearms, limiting the use of working knives is more than restrictive. It is an attack on any culture. For it limits the possibility to counter- and interact with the world for the individual. It is an incapacitation.

With this post, I have tried to make clear some of the cultural aspects of pocket knives, albeit a tiny part of them. It has a lot of limitations, but I think one thing is made clear: That the cultural connections are legion, and that the knives of the European nations are an essential part of their culture, as is in any nation all over the world.

Knives are a crucial and important aspect of culture, and due to the aforementioned reasons their socially acceptable use should be protected by the law, not prohibited, as is the case to date.

Mittwoch, 18. Juli 2012

The Wanderer Through the gates-The legend of the giant´s gate

Once upon a time, in a time that was not a time, in a place, that was not a place, far back in a history that was a story told by the wind, a spookseer and shaman was born in the land of the peoples, which was known as the Dhiudha-land. He was born a heir to a family of seers, of farmers and warriors even, all of which had the gift of the second sight. They knew how to bespeak horses´illnesses, they knew what herbs were good against the many maladies that so easily befall man, and since the mists of time had settled, loved, fought, and lived there in the ancient rolling hills. And it were so that this shaman was born at the dawn of a new day and light was shining through the leaves of a grove that were young and beautiful like the child. 

 And the child grew and learned to live, and it was soon told that he had extraordinary properties of sight and power. Thus it came to the attention of the great killer, the antagonist, a giant amongst demons, and a demon amongst giants. A guardian was he beside the portal of rebirth, and a peril on the path of a shaman, and a curse to the spookseer on his way along the river of agnition that flows two ways.
 And there came a day when the child was growing older that it learned it was on a path, and a wanderer did it become on strange and wonderful trails. Into the depths of the thicket he ventured, swift and nimble as a stag, and strong and enduring like a wolf on his pursuit of the way. It was then that he heard the path led to a gate, and the gate led to a dale, and in the dale thence was a realm of twilight where knowledge dwelt. And he ventured into the ancient realm of Worah - Hall, which at that time spread wide through the ancient hills, hours and hours on end under the rich, red soil of the hills, and one of its main vestiges was to be found near *Klauti-Rad, the main fortress of the dwarves at that time. Long and winding were his wanderings, and many adventures he experienced on his way along the river that flows two ways, where he leaped along like a salmon on his journey towards the well, well shadowed by nine trees. Twilight was a mantle he acquired, a sword he found out of wind, and a stone to built a fortress on. But all those are other tales that shall not be subject to my story and will maybe told at another fire. But twilight was along his path, and it was in this twilight that he met with the dwarves of *Klauti-Rad, along the soil-clod-road, as it translates from the ancient tongue of the dwellers underground of the ancient race of Dúrinn.
 And after all those many errations on his path, he felt tired, and the dwarves welcomed him as a guest, for they knew him for what he was and saw no evil in his soul. Ancient wine and choice meals they did offer him, and rest came to him like a healthy sleep, deep in the crevices of the dwarven palaces, which were lit by golden lanterns. There he rested, and his weariness subsided, and the blisters upon his feet and the wounds of his soul healed in the endless gateways of sinter and sandstone rock. Many things did he learn thence from the underground folk, but eventually there came a day when he had to take his leave.

And the dwarf who had been his tutor and companion came to him with a magic fox, and the fox looked at him through a veil of twilight mist behind his eyes. And being a spookseer, the wanderer understood.
 The dwarf thence addressed him and gave many a good counsil, not the least being that he should cling to the fox´s tail on his journey and to never let loose of it. And he led the spookseer ever so much deeper into the halls of the dwarvenfolk, deeper than he had ever ventured before. Wilder and darker the tunnels became, and there was a strange air of power and a stench of stone and water, of burning amber and carbide, of ozone and steel, getting ever so much stronger the deeper they came. And there, near the edge of the dwarven kingdom, where no light dwelt, and the heart of the mountain beat with the strong and violent pulse of the land, his tutor took his leave with a glint in his eye.
 And as the wanderer was standing there, alone in the dark, while the little spark of light that was his companion was all but exterminated by the veil of darkness, another darkness rose, and at the heart of the darkness there was a deeper darkness. And at the heart of this deepest darkness, there was a pulse to be felt. And ever so much deeper the fox led the wanderer, and this was but the first hour. And it was behind the gates that all voice was lost in stillness, all sound was extinguished by the darkness, all tutoring subsided. It was at that gate that a fox statue stood guard to guide the way ever deeper into the blackness.

And on he ventured, clinging to the fox´tail, and the fox, with sparkling eyes, guided him well, for she alone could see in the bitter void.
And as he ventured ever deeper, it was in the second hour that he reached a hall, painfully brightly lit in its darkness, with a white light shining that was a darkness black as void, and a secret it was, hidden beneath the root of rock itself. A sun shone there and truth it was embedded jewelly bright in the utter darkness. So bright was this light which a light was not that all lies were burned and taken from him, leaving him with the cruel sincerity of a child.

And on he ventured, ever so much deeper, into the domain of the lightless ones, the spirits of earth, wind, fire and water, dwelling deep down underground, caught notice of him and were furious that he entered his domain. And with their claws and tongues of flame and gusts of wind and blades of obsidian they bore upon him to cut him to pieces. To pieces he was cut and the spirits of the elements, the spirits of the living, and the spirits of the dead feasted on his flesh and the marrow of his bones. This was the third hour.

But all the while his hand clung to the fox´s tail, and the fox let go a mighty howl, and in the massive face of the darken rock a gate opened with a green light shining in the dark, and in the green light there a tree was growing.
Forth strode she from the virile light, she of the guidance and the healing, and she commanded the spirits to carry the parts of his body onwards on the path, and through the gates of the fourth hour. She walked with them, always into the direction of the West, where over the cauldron of wisdom shone a silver line, the path of dreams, and there the fox led the spirits by her command. Tears of diamond light she cried over the carcass, the shaman unborn. Towards the hall they ventured, and deep inside the hall there was a well, embroidered with runes of moonlight silver along its glassen edges of deep blue. Vast was this chalice, so vast that noone can estimate its width, nor depth, nor the tides of its waters, and of a deep blue colour was the light that shone from it, a chalice it was of inspiration, and there she took the body parts of the shaman unborn and cleansed and consecrated them, all the while singing her runes. And then she kissed the fox and upon its back she bound the parts of the shaman unborn.

On went the fox through the gates of the seventh hour, and there was another gate, and by the gate a terrible guardian stood, but the fox simply passed through his legs, that were set in too wide a stance, by cunning and swiftness the animal trespassed below the attention of the great one.
Thus they came into a great cave, and in the cave there was a smithy, and there was a great iron serpent, and in the jaws of the serpent the antagonist worked and wrought, his head enthralled by rainbow mists and a cloak of starlight mist; he stood and wrought, with the hammer of green light upon an anvil of force. And he forged the bones of the shaman anew, and wrought new sinews out of steel, and knotworks of gold and silver, and clothed the shaman unborn anew with a mantle of flesh. And thus passed the eighth hour.
And she of the great healing stood near the gate and took the shaman newborn, who was still weak, and nine was the number of her maiden virgins she had with her. And the ninth one was clad in armour and had a bitter spear and a furious sword to ward off the demons. And thus the tenth hour passed, with the slaying of the demon deceivers. On the shaman ventured, towards the river that flows out into the world of the living, the world of green and of the day, on the bark of the moon into the starlit realm, and from the starlit realm into the dawning light, and he came into a cave complex of twilight. There a hare sat, and the fox wanted to take her leave, but firm was the grip of the newborn shaman. The fox wanted to hunt, but firm was the clasp on her tail, and the shaman did not let her. He clung to her tail, and he went on and on through the complex, and ahead of them the hare ran. Towards the gates they ran. And there they stood, beneath the arch of stone, and there was a mighty roar to be heard.... be continued...;-)

Postline of 2010 has been archived and deleted - but will be made available on request!

So, it´s reached that point where I had to make a decision: Picasa´s brim ful with pics and my blog is getting slower, so I archived and deleted the 2010 posts. If you email me at Fimbulmyrk {ätätätärätätätäyerknowharamean] gmx [dottelditot] de, I will send you a BIG file with the backup so you can comfortably read the rest on your desktop.

Donnerstag, 12. Juli 2012

Highland Games in Wuppertal

 Jogi from Clan Mac Laren Friends Of Germany had invited, and many came to a beautiful site in Wuppertal, Traders, Clans, reenactors, highland sports athletes, visitors and friends alike. I was there with a blacksmithing booth for the Bethaus smithy. And, before the mayhem started, I had a quick walk around to take a look, and there I met Thomas  specializing in handforged quality knives at reasonable prices, made in the blade metropole Solingen completely by hand. We had a nice chat, and he showed me his knives. They are made from carbon steel in a museum in Solingen.
 Really nice Sgian Dubh knives... I really love the lines of these beauties!
A knife with his first "attempt" at scrimshaw;-) after the Lewis viking age chesspiece presumeably depicting a berserker.
 Cocobolo and bone...
 Some hunting knives.
 I really loved the knotwork carving on the handle of this dirk.
 A handle out of hoornbeam.
Makassar ebony.
 And a buttcap.... love that, too!
 Carving on a Sgian Dubh, ebony. is this one.

 Then I had to interrupt my drooling, for the first kids came by and I had quite a lot to do! I forged pendants, cahin links as in the pic, Thor´s hammers (a big hit on the days!), snakes, nails, pendant knives, and hearts for putting on house doors.
 The area.

And this is Jogi with his little ones. The kids were great, and felt quite familiar with all the noise going on and obviously had fun of their own.
 Leather bracelets on display, as were kilts and a load of fine art and whisky.
 I was fond of this sporran / belt pouch.
 Jogi was quite enthusiastic about the day... in the evening the band played, and with good food, music and drink...

...the first day drew to a close.

 I was all fatigued from little to no sleep since three weeks and hard working, so I made for the drive home with a car Thomas Kier lent us, thanks for that. I even managed to get some 5 hours of sleep for a change. I was sorry, though, for there was a clan party going on and Jogi had warmly invited me to come. But there are limits of my power, too.
On Sunday morning I arrived early.
 All was still quiet....
 And I set up forge.
 After doing so, I had a walk around to take another look. It was raining hard, Scottish sunshine;-).
 This is the booth of carrynette and highland outfitters.

 Really high-end sporrans and silverware...

 ...needles and pins and brooches. Sorry for the lousy pic, but I hope you get the gist. Really high-end quality!

 Belt buckles...

Quality dress jackets and even skirts.
 The booth of Saxo whisky bar Remscheid. Must I really explain this*ggg*?

Then I visited the booth of Clan macLeod. Friendly guys selling mead, whisky, brooches and clan merchandise.

Clan crest brooches...

Love that clan crest flask!
..tofill in these delicacies, yum!*ggg*
The clan crest of Clan MacLeod (or my El as they prefer to be called.

 This is the clan crest of Clan mac Laren.

 At the Schoenheit und Wunder booth I came across this dress Sgian Dubh:

 The heather gem on the pommel is actually made from heather. The material is cleansed, epoxied and force-compressed with more than 80to., then polished to a high lustre, as is the blade made from unspecified stainless steel. The handle is nickel silver.

 That´s the material. Fascinating, if you ask me
 Then it was back to Thomas´booth for more detail photos and more drooling...;-)

Have to make myself one soon. First , however, will be the one for Craig! I really like the lines of this type of knife, and the whole concept appeals to me.

Those are some hunting knives Thomas also makes. He loves to use regional woods such as plum, apple, and pear, but also uses cocobolo and ebony and bone.

The guys were coldforged from a solid block, if you ask me. It was raining hard, and they simply practised as if the sun was shining... Scots are made from a tough stamp, it seems;-).

Those two were my neighbours, really friendly people, providing myself with grilled sausage, just because they were fond of the stories I told the kids! Thanks a lot, it was fun to work with you!

Then the clans were marching in. Funny, with all the bagpipes and drums you get the urgent feeling you have to conquer a small country;-).
One cool Lochaber axe!;-)
I stood there in line with my ceremonial hammer and was quite impressed... but, as it seems, they were equally impressed by me;-). Feels good to be welcome...

Then the family of Markus came by, a bunch of unwashed heathens;-)... either adults and kids were forge-mad;-) and had a lot of fun.
This little girl has presumeably an ancient soul. I was quite impressed with little Marika. She forged several pieces and not only did extremely well at it, but also was very helpful. She shared very many tales with me (and I with her) about the ancient gods. Freya, the "savage grace" she liked best, and it showed. She helped many kids by binding the apron, lended a hand in handing over tools and shared her own food and drink with other kids. She was very open, but distinct about her opinion. You had to take time to discuss with her, but if it made sense, she followed advice. She was playful, but more competent socially than most adults.
 Karina, her friend(?) helped out a good deal also. They were taking pride in being my "apprentices", and, even if it was kinda strenuous telling hundreds of tales while forging extremely difficult pieces (Odhinn´s sign anyone? I can´t even draw it, but had to forge it ex tempore;-)... I failed, and they will visit the smithy and complete it with me...), I was very fond of them. I wonder, if their ability, agility and liveliness might be attributed to them being pagans... for I find most pagan and Steiner school educated kids being more competent both socially and intellectually, more creative and agile. It was a complete contrast to some Mammonist/Nihilist kids I forged with that day, and it got me thinking. Mammon makes zombies, that much I can say, at least compared with those two. They might have to live a tough life, but I wish them that they always find the strength that really matters.
 Many kids I forged with that day, and, no matter what belief they had, they all were fascinated and had fun playing with fire and steel. And that´s a great thing.

Reenactor´s idyll;-)...

 Two days passed in a rush, with a lot of impressions, nice people, strenuous work, good food and drink. Thanks to all of you, it was a great experience!

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