Following on from an earlier story about hammers, the other possibly most important tool ever devised by man, and one definitely found in every household, has to be the knife. Some suggest that the knife was the most significant tool; however, without a hammer (knapping), a knife may never have evolved or may have taken much longer to evolve; however, I’m not sure if anyone really knows how the knife came about. That said, I sometimes wonder whether one of our ancestors, wandering about a flint pile, cut their foot on a sharp rock and, on observing the result of stepping on a sharp piece of flint, perhaps a spark of an idea fomented and the knife was born. No one really knows when the first flint knife was created, but it most certainly was a long time ago.
Now this is not going to be a story about ancient toolmakers and the history of knives, but just a review of some of the knives that I’ve collected over the years for whatever reason (like with my hammers). While every knife that I own is ostensibly functional and many I use every day, in some cases, they form more of a decorative function than something that’s actually used. The decorative knives include an Indonesian Sewar Dagger that I picked up in Jakarta many years ago, a Japanese folding knife given as a farewell present and some Finnish hunting knives that I bought in Finland many, many, years ago.
In Finland, especially while in the army, everyone carried a knife as part of their normal accoutrement, in fact, knives are as much a part of Finnish life, especially in rural areas (or were in those days), as wine and baguettes are to a Frenchman. And, as hunting and fishing is a major part of the Finnish lifestyle, those involved would invariable have more than one knife, each one designed for a particular task. Some may wonder at the purpose of the groove (fuller) in the blade and you can find an answer here. My Finnish knives all date back to the early 70s and perhaps earlier in some cases. Some have had a lot of use, while others have remained reasonably pristine.
Pocket knives are another very common knife and probably the most owned of any knives except for kitchen knives. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from wee things that are toy like, to truly fearsome or bizarre ones that beggar belief. Nor are pocket knives, of the folding type, anything new, as they date back quite some time. Anyway, my pocket knives are relatively mundane and some are used regularly at work (removing plastic straps, wrapping and tape), when camping and for small odd jobs around the house. I can remember when a pocket knife was something a kid would strive for and get as a Christmas or birthday present, but nowadays such a thing is considered far too dangerous.
Without any doubt whatsoever, kitchen knives are the most important knives that I own. The very first, of what we thought were decent kitchen knives, that we owned came from one of those Bessemer parties that were all the rage in the early 80s. We ended up getting a set of pots and pans, as well as a kitchen knife set. After all of those years, we still have the pots and pans, less one pan and the knives (one is somewhere in our camper trailer). The Bessemer serrated knife is used regularly to cut our dog’s rawhide bones, which otherwise would require a power saw. I quickly outgrew the Bessemer knives for general use and bought Australian made Furi knives, and I’ve pretty much had the Chef’s knife since it first came out and followed up with the East-West and then the utility knife, These knives are used every day and while some don’t rate them highly, they have served me very well. Mind you, we’ve also had some very ordinary kitchen knives, especially those Wiltshire stay sharp knives that were a big deal years ago.
Obviously there are many other knives such as butter knives, steak knives etc but, as they are fairly mundane (I certainly don’t own anything exotic), I’ll refrain from commenting on them, other than to acknowledge their existence. However, speciality knives such as pate and cheese knives do warrant a mention, as these can come in a variety of shapes and styles, depending on the type of cheese to be cut, soft or hard. I almost forgot our pizza knife (or cutter) and we do also have a pizza cutting wheel, but I really couldn’t call that a knife. One final knife that I forgot I had is a pruning or bush knife of sorts. It’s more of a hand saw but, as it conforms to the style of a knife, I’ll consider it a knife.
And that’s about it really and if Google is any indication, there are people out there that own a vastly greater number and variety of knives from what I’ve shown. For some, collecting knives is a full time hobby for many. One thing that I have been thinking about since doing this story, is to perhaps make a display case for what are my more decorative knives, rather than have then stored in a drawer as they have been for years.