Laguiole knife


Laguiole knife

The Laguiole knife is a high-quality traditional French pocket-knife, originally produced in the town of Laguiole in the Aveyron region of southern France. The word "Laguiole", pronEng|lɑːˈjɔːl "la-yoll", is a generic term, not legally restricted to any one company or place of manufacture. Such knives are produced by a number of unrelated companies in southern France, some 70% of production coming from Thiers, a long-established centre of the cutlery industry. Thanks to their elegant and distinctive lines, as well as fine craftsmanship and expensive materials, they have achieved the status of a design classic and are sold for high prices, sometimes running into hundreds of dollars.

History

The ancestors of laguiole knives were inspired by the Arabo-Hispanic knife, the Navaja. Migrations of men between Spain and France in summer and winter introduced the Navaja in Aveyron. The Arabo-Hispanic design was merged with the local one, represented by the older Capouchadou knives, and became the laguiole knife. The design dates from the early 19th century with a farmer's knife from the Laguiole village. The knife was first designed in 1829 and became the pattern for this style, its forged bee being its distinctive mark. In 1840 the first awls appeared to help shepherds pierce the skin of sheep that had bloated from eating too much green grass. In 1880 they added a corkscrew in response of demands from waiters of northern Aveyron. The shepherds' cross is set in the middle of the handle and was used as a rosary. The knife was planted on the bread upright and thus shepherds who did not have the opportunity attend church were able to say their prayers.

Today laguiole knives have a spring-stop that protects the blade when the knife is closed. Tradition says that a laguiole knife should be closed softly: "Silent springs makes better lives". Traditionally only the head of the household was allowed to snap his blade shut, meaning the family could clear the table.

Design

What the various designs have in common is their slim, sinuous outline, about 10 cm long when closed, with a narrow, tapered blade and a high quality of construction. Traditionally the handle was made of cattle horn; however, nowadays more luxurious materials are sometimes used. These materials include French woods, exotic woods from all around the world, and fossilised mammoth ivory from Alaska or Siberia. The famous French designer Philippe Starck designed Laguiole knives using aluminium. The blade is often made of Stainless steel or High-carbon steel, with XC75 steels being 0,75% carbon made and XC100 being 1% carbon. More decorated laguioles even use Damascus steel.Laguiole Rouergue knives are handmade in small production runs using local and imported products. They feature natural horn, camel bone, and stag antler scales.

Classically there is a single blade, but sometimes a corkscrew or some other implement is added. This necessitates an even slimmer cutaway handle, the shape of which is fancifully known as the "lady's leg", the bolster at the base resembling a foot.

There is some controversy about the insect depicted on the catch.Some say it represents a fly or a horse-fly which would be familiar to peasants in the rural Laguiole area, which is known for cattle breeding. The Laguiole catch is often designated as "la mouche" ("the fly") in French, but this could be linked to a lock designation in old French from earlier knives (most modern designs are slip joint knives that don't feature any locking system). [http://www.laguiolefrance.com/abeille-mouche-laguiole.html Abeille ou Mouche ? - Laguiole - laguiolefrance.com - Vente de couteaux laguiole haut de gamme ] ]

Others say the insect is a bee. One story states the use of the bee, an imperial symbol, was granted by Napoleon in recognition of the courage of local soldiers. While this story is quite popular it is actually poorly sourced.

There are about 109 production steps for a one-piece knife, about 166 for a two-piece one, and about 216 for a three-piece model.

The prestigious Laguiole iconography has been taken up as a visual theme for various other implements, so that one can now buy, for example, a "Laguiole" corkscrew, spoon, or steak-knife set.

Production sites

As Laguiole designates a type of knife and is not a brand or trade name, Laguiole knives are manufactured globally. This has caused the market to be flooded with inexpensive knives made in China and South Korea. These knives are of much lesser quality than the handmade knives from traditional manufacturers in the Laguiole region as well as the industrial products from Thiers.

References

External links

* [http://www.lafermedelamer.com/Laguiole/history_of_laguiole.htm History of the Laguiole knife]
* [http://www.musee-laguiole.com/index_en.htm The Laguiole knife museum's website]
* [http://www.laguiole.com/laguiole_handcrafting.htm Handcrafting pictures and videos for Laguiole knives]
* [http://www.layole.com/uk/coutellerie/ateliers.php Manufacturing a Laguiole knife]


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