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TOPIC: Gentlemen's Knives

Re: Gentlemen's Knives 2 years 5 months ago #1694

  • mark76
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Yes, I visited Thiers and Laguiole last summer. I am interested in Laguiole knives, the traditional French knives, and I have a small collection of them. (Slightly larger after our visit :-) ).

Thiers is the knife-making capital of France, it is to France what Solingen is to Germany. And the majority of the knives they make are Laguiole knives, so we went to Thiers first.

It is a typical French town with a beautiful medieval center.





Funnily enough, Coutellerie Chambriard was the first coutellerie we encountered. So I started with some window shopping :-). Here you see Laguiole knives, Le Thiers knives as well as some other knives.



When we entered the shop, I didn’t know what I saw. I had never seen so many knives together.





And there are many more coutelleries in Thiers. Sometimes these are shops that sell knives made by others, sometimes they only sell their own knives.

This is the shop next door to Chambriard. It is not only knives they sell...



They also have some nice Le Their knives.



One of my favourite coutelleries was by Robert David. I knew his name, but I didn’t know he was in Thiers.



This is one of the reasons I like his work:



And here’s another one:



When I showed so much interest in the knives, the old man himself was brought to the shop. It was really nice talking to him, although quite hard, since my French is not very good and he didn’t speak a word English. At first he thought I was American and he was quite American-minded, so he proudly showed me a knife he had made for (or in cooperation with) Buck, if I am not mistaken for their 125th anniversary. More out of curiosity than out of real interest, I took a couple of pictures of the knife that indeed looks like a crossover of a hunting knife and a Laguiole.



And then my girlfriend gave me a Le Thiers knife by Robert David. (She still wonders sometimes how on earth she could have given me a knife :-) .) The handle is made of horn, which is the traditional material.



In Thiers all the workshops of the knife makers we visited were closed, unfortunately. (It was Monday and we were in France...)

But the next day, in Laguiole, which is two hours south of Thiers, we visited two workshops. I can guarantee you, Leo, there is a lot of craftsmanship in your knife. Obviously they use machines (200 years ago they used machines as well, like a water-powered grinding stone), but a lot is still being done by hand.



Back at the camping place we used our knives for what they are meant for.



Traditional French knives are not really hard-use knives. Originally they were used by farmers and shepherds as, what we would say now, EDC’s. And French being French, food is an important part of every day. Even today it is quite customary to bring your own Laguiole to a restaurant.

And Leo, do you know the story behind the Le Thiers knife? Somewhere at the end of the 1980’s interest in traditional French knives suddenly increased. For the knife makers in Thiers this was good news, since they sold a lot more Laguiole knives. However, their market share actually decreased, because the knife making business in Laguiole itself, which was nearly dead until then, was also revived. Worse, Pakistani and Chinese knife makers had discovered the Laguiole knife and made lots of cheap copies of it. The problem was that the Laguiole knife is only a type of knife and not a registered trademark, or A.O.C. as the French say. So in the middle of the 1990’s a couple of knifemakers from Thiers came together, designed a knife and decided to register it properly. And that is the Le Thiers knife now. It is truly a beautiful knife and can only be made in Thiers. Congratulations!
Last Edit: 2 years 5 months ago by mark76.
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Re: Gentlemen's Knives 2 years 5 months ago #1696

  • leomitch
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Mark, what a priceless post my friend! Superb shots...I can practically smell the Camembert cheese and fresh croissants from here. Are you from Canada Mark? Did I ask you this already and if so please forgive my old fart memory.
Yes I knew the story behind the Thiers brotherhood. Gosh I wish I were well enough to travel and infact if I could I would retire to France. Thanks again mate!

warm regards
Leo
Never go anywhere without your knife!
Gibbs rule number 9

Leo James Mitchell
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Re: Gentlemen's Knives 2 years 5 months ago #1699

  • jendeindustries
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:woohoo: What a wonderful trip! :woohoo: Great pictures, and the memory of the trip will last forever!

I want to go to France now...
Tom Blodgett
Jende Industries, LLC

My Blog: jendeindustries.wordpress.com
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Re: Gentlemen's Knives 2 years 5 months ago #1701

  • wickededge
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I would LOVE to make that trip! Thanks for the great post Mark.
--Clay Allison
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Re: Gentlemen's Knives 2 years 5 months ago #1702

  • mark76
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I am not from Canada, Leo (although technically I am: I was in Toronto last fall ;-) ). I am from The Netherlands. But the French border is only four hours by car from where I live. So I have been on holiday in France quite often. In fact, we are going there in two weeks, skiing in the Alps.

My love for knives is actually only three years old. We were on holiday in the Provence when my old Swiss army knife broke down. And there, in a sports shop, I saw this beautiful pocket knife. As you’ll probably guess, it was a Laguiole…

So our visit to Thiers last summer was my first visit there, but it’ll certainly not be the last one. They organize a knife show there every year, which is one of the largest of Europe and I plan on attending next spring. There is a nice thread about it at knifeforums: www.knifeforums.com/forums/showtopic.php?tid/903399/

Anyway, since the pictures seem to be appreciated and since I hijacked your topic anyway already :-), here are some more pictures.

Centre of Thiers:





Lots of knives…







One of the largest and best-known Laguiole knife makers, Fontenille-Pataud. Looks like a garage, though :-).



And finally some photographs from the town of Laguiole.



Forge de Laguiole, who got knife-making back in the town of Laguiole. True craftmanship.









Assembly…







Grinding





In Main Street in Laguiole (the town is hardly more than Main Street) there is a large number of coutelliers next to each other, each making their own knives (though they are supplied with parts from the same “Fabrique Artisinale”). During summer, some of them finish polishing knives on the street.









And, finally, using a knife...

Last Edit: 2 years 5 months ago by mark76.
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Re: Gentlemen's Knives 2 years 5 months ago #1703

  • jendeindustries
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Wow!

If you keep this teasing up Mark, and I'll have to report the thread to Leo!!!

:lol: :lol: :lol:
Tom Blodgett
Jende Industries, LLC

My Blog: jendeindustries.wordpress.com
Last Edit: 2 years 5 months ago by jendeindustries.
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