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History

History of the Laguiole Knife

 

Laguiole knives have been manufactured in the southwest French province of Aveyron since the nineteenth century. Its predecessor, the "Capuchadou", was forged with a fixed, unmovable blade. After the development of a unique folding mechanism by the smith Pierre-Jean Calmels, the blade was then able to fold into its handle, which lead to the creation of the folding knife, or jackknife. However, this beautifully curved jackknife originated not from France, but from seventeenth-century Spain, where it was called in original Spanish "navaja". Early navajas (jackknives) were first uncovered in cremation burial sites dating back to the Ice Age. Later specimens were also found in remains of old Roman settlements. The Spanish word "navaja" also translates as "mussel"; an appropriate name, as these curved jackknives resemble the animal closely.

Nearly everyone, be it man or woman, young or old, carried these knives with them at all times. In this unsettled period, it was used both as an all-purpose tool and as a weapon. At the time, only nobility and the military were permitted to carry weapons, particularly daggers. Jackknives were ideal for concealing in one's clothing. The knives reached their prime in the eighteenth century, being extravagantly decorated with precious materials.

Young French craftsmen from the Aubrac region, who had travelled through Andalusia to perfect their skills, saw these unusual knives and studied the art of their production. With this new-found knowledge and skill, they returned to their homeland where they continued to develop the knife. Beautiful carvings of flies and bees were forged into the knives, and the sheath received the so-called "shepherd's cross", made from metal pins. Being far superior to the old Capuchadou, these knives quickly became the shepherds' tool of choice during their solitary travels. They even stuck the knives into the ground or tree roots when they wanted to pray!

The incredible craftsmanship, remarkable sharpness of the blade and extraordinary quality of the materials used all contribute to the knives' legendary status and are considered unique cultural property of France.

No one who has owned such a knife will ever again want to use any other!

 





Forge de Laguiole

Laguiole en Aubrac

Laguiole en Aubrac

Laguiole Honore Durand





Laguiole Cutlers

 

It is always interesting to learn about cutlers in order to be able to appreciate their traditions and philosophy.  

Unfortunately, the information found on the internet will usually cite only four cutlers who work on a comparably high level - WHAT NONSENSE!

These big four are reportedly Arbalète G. David, Fontenille Pataud, Forge de Laguiole and Laguiole en Aubrac.  

Arbalète G. David was just about at the end of its rope and was bought by Aubrac. This is a good thing, however, as the oldest manufacturer of Laguiole should simply be maintained. The Arbalète Genes David enterprise is now in its third successful generation of master cutlers since its foundation in 1922. With a team of over 20 employees and more than 800 different models of knife, Arbalète Genes David has become the hallmark for creative design. After having won the "Janus de l'industrie" prize in 2009 and again in 2010, this fact has been well proven. The forties saw the revival of a nearly forgotten Laguiole tradition when Arbalète Genes David continued the production of the famous Laguiole pocketknife. Arbalète G. David is now a leader in the world of craftsmen who specialize in French handmade Laguiole knives. Gene David shows its true character with its deep ties to the product's local origin. The whole array of products is produced in Thiers in the Auvergne region. This guarantees a manufacturing process that is 100% French. Following the call of the timeless Laguiole tradition, these craftsmen continue to assemble, create, invent, polish and even "sculpt".  

Forge de Laguiole belongs to the most renowned cutlers and in large part to Laguiole en Aubrac as well. Forge is often incorrectly regarded as the "original cutler". This is less because of the knives themselves or the apparent tradition; rather it’s due to the management's remarkable marketing strategies. But at the end of the day, you are privy to the knives' true beginnings, as read in the first paragraphs. The quality of the Forge products is O.K., but in our eyes, it simply does not attain a very high level, at least as far as the regular editions go. Many special editions, even those created by professional designers, attain a one-time level of perfection. This, of course, has an effect on the price.  

It's easy to notice a difference with Fontenille Pataud whose valuable knives of extremely high quality are really something to get excited about. Since 1920, Fontenille Pataud has remained crafting knives in Thiers, the most important city for cutlers in France. The Laguiole knives are respectfully manufactured in the traditional fashion. Because of this, Fontenille Pataud has been distinguished on multiple occasions by the French government.

The knives of Laguiole en Aubrac stem from top-quality traditional craftsmanship, especially the higher-end editions. As a distinguishing mark, each knife is adorned with the head of a bull native to the region also known as Aubrac.  

And that's the end of the story???  

Of course not!  

When talking about Laguiole knives, the name "Honoré Durand" should also come to mind. Laguiole would simply be a dot on the map of the French region of Aubrac were it not for the world-renowned knife makers who call the region home, making these unique knives by hand according to the old tradition. Belonging to them is Honoré Durand, whose knives have received much national and international recognition. These knives from the shop of Honoré Durand are manufactured one by one, by hand and from the best materials, in the tradition of the French maîtres couteliers (master cutlers). Depending on the specific make-up of each knife, up to 105 different steps may be required to complete it. In this respect, each knife is unique in its own way. The numerous awards from both national and international exhibitions and trade shows can be attributed to the company's remarkable creativity. One man - one knife: This is the company's slogan. Each knife is fashioned by a single, well-trained knife maker who is solely responsible for the product. This is in stark contrast to the industrial mass productions. After being completed, each knife undergoes a rigorous critique by the master of the workshop. Only knives without flaw receive the mark of the company "Laguiole de l'artisan" in the figure of the bull. In Laguiole and its surrounding area, it’s a source of pride.  

Le Fidele: Laguiole Le Fidele is a small cutler in Lezoux, France, which has been run for centuries by the same family. Here, many traditional Laguiole products such as pocketknives, steak knives, carving forks and sommeliers are passionately forged. Le Fidele is not only the most affordable and solid cutler, but also the most cost-effective.  

Line-Golz – the artist among cutlers. If any one cutler were to belong to the "Ateliers d'art de France", it would be none other than Herve Line-Golz. These Laguiole knives unite top-quality craftsmanship with the creativity of gifted artists. Each knife is a work of art that adds a completely new dimension to the world of Laguiole knives. Unique to Line-Golz is the one-of-a-kind design of its handles. Two knives are produced, identical in regards to their structure and shape. The materials used in the handles, however, always render them different from one another, making one knife a distinct yet matching counterpart to the other. Sounds complicated. And it sure looks that way too, when one takes a look at the pictures. While the one knife is made from bright Norwegian maple, its counterpart is of dark burl wood and vice versa. The shapes are always identical, but the materials used contrast with one another. This makes for a unique pair of knives, in harmony like yin and yang.  

Claude Dozorme Founded in 1902 by Blaise Dozorme, also called "the Wolf", Claude Dozorme is the signature brand of a long family tradition. Claude Dozorme strives to create some of the most daring and avant-garde goods in the world. It's an innovative brand that combines its own creations with new interpretations of classic forms. Each knife of the Claude Dozorme collection is manufactured completely by hand in the company's factory.  

Philippe Voissière stands undoubtedly among the best of cutlers and offers knives of utmost perfection with the most careful attention to the old traditions of the trade. Philippe Voissière is considered the designer among cutlers! In his workshop, Voissière effortlessly manufactures what is easily considered the ultimate knife: Laguiole de Art. The cutler carries out each and every step according to strict tradition in its own workshop: the forging and cutting of the metal, the preparation and formation of the handles, the assembly and polishing of the blades and miters, right down to the final sharpening. All adjustments, mechanics and production processes meet even the most demanding requirements. Each knife needs up to four weeks to be completed. As a result, each knife is a ONE-OF-A-KIND PRODUCTION for the sophisticated customers.

If we were to name the best cutlers with the highest-end products, Le Fidèle and Claude Dozorme should definitely be mentioned. The top contender in our eyes, however, would be Philippe Voissière. The knives are rather extravagant, but produced with such remarkable quality that they send a shiver down the spine of any knife-enthusiast!  

You can find all these cutlers here through Original-Laguiole, with the largest selection of Laguiole knives and cutlery worldwide!





Laguiole en Aubrac

Laguiole en Aubrac

Laguiole en Aubrac

Laguiole Claude Dozorme

Laguiole Honore Durand

Laguiole Claude Dozorme

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