×

Swiss Army knife celebrates 125 years

Most of us have owned at least one, but why has that particular pen-knife become so popular?

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

It all began when the Swiss army issued its soldiers with a gun in the late 19th century that required a special screwdriver to dismantle and clean it.

At the same time the soldiers were receiving tinned food as rations, so a device was required to be able to do the two tasks.

An entrepreneurial knife maker, Carl Elsner, heard the Swiss army wanted to issue each soldier with a special knife and the rest, as they say, is history.

Now in all shapes, sizes and colours

Now in all shapes, sizes and colours

The first one had a black handle, one big blade, a tin opener and a screwdriver.

The “Swiss Army Knife” gained international fame when U.S. troops returnng home after World War II brought back the red multi-tool pocket knives they had taken from German prisoners.

German army officers were not issued with them but bought these Swiss-made knives privately.

125 years on the company that makes them, Victorinox, has put the first knife on display at the Forum for Swiss History as it celebrates 125 years of the knife. 

Not exactly pocket-sized

Not exactly pocket-sized

The standard army issue-ones have never had a corkscrew and among the more unusual tools are altimeters, pencil sharpners, MP3 players and a device to get hooks out of fishes mouths and take the scales off them.

Many have a device for getting stones out of horses hooves but have rarely been used for the application intended.

The biggest one ever made had 314 different blades.

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •