Dienstag, 5. Februar 2013

Study of a historical equestrian folding knife-flea market find

 It has been quite some time since I found this knife on a local flea market. It was lying submerged under a heap of trash, and you can think I was quite enthused I found it. Not exactly to use it, although I would love to, but because it is a historical piece, dating back at least to the early 1900´s. The combination of tools hints to a use as an equestrian or even post wagoners or wagoners use. The knife has beautifully aged stag antler scales, presumeably Sambar stag on nickel silver liners with a very delicate filework. It´s a slipjoint. It incorporates a hoof scraper, a corkscrew, a leather punch / awl, a saw, a main blade, a champagne hook, an oyster or walnut opener, and awl / drill, a wood chisel / scraper, and apparently a toothpick / pincer, which is missing. All blades are made from carbon steel. A manufacturing stamp is not intelligible, and the main blade obviously had been replaced by a former lockback blade, and the pivot is made from an old nail.
 The wood drill, apparantly it has seen a bit of reworking.
 The leather punch and the pivot of the hoof scraper, plus a detail of the beautifully wrought liners.
 The corkscrew apparently was hand-filed.
 A detail of the champagne hook and the oyster / walnut opener blade and the space for pincers and toothpick.
 The hoof scraper.
 Wood chisel, main blade and saw. Note the makeshift pivot and the beautiful filework on the bolsters.
 The backside and the springs.
 More detail.
This knife is a good example of a knife that was an essential and often used tool in everyday life. It illustrates a period of time not even so long ago, when a knife was a must-have for all the little tasks everyday life had to offer, from preparing food to whittling, leather tooling and whatnot. In those times it was mandatory for any gentleman to carry a knife. Self-understanding of any man (and woman, too, at that) indicated that one had to cope with what challenge life had to offer by themselves. I speculate that this has changed. The banning and deification of knives in general might have something to do with a change of attitude. If nowadays a wheel on the wagon broke, one would stand by the roadside and claim legal compensation from the manufacturer and cry so long until someone would help.;-) In those times one had to help oneself, and the more versatile and practical the tools were, the better. And even those tools were repaired with what was at hand. This knife tells the story. It had certainly not been repaired by the manufacturer, something you certainly would not see in modern times. It had been lovingly repaired and used to near extinction, by an individual who did not care for others patronizing him- or herself, but tried to put up to the challenge, in this case the breakdown of a beloved tool. Being able to do that, knowing some tricks to keep it going makes your life independant. And, it might be obvious, but this individual may have done many things, but one thing he / she certainly did not: Buy a new tool.

Dumb and unskilled and fearful people make better consumers, and consuming and throwing away are the main pillars on which our economy rests. It all comes down to the old question of being and having. This knife to me is a lesson, and I am right grateful for that.

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