The Return of the Native










No, not the novel by Thomas Hardy. There are still men in the South who carry  an iconic Laguiole pocket knife. It is a brand rooted in French culture and copied shamelessly in the Far East. Men used to cut up their food at the table, graft trees in the field and use the ‘poinçon’ or piercer to punch holes in leather bridles or relieve the colic pains of a sheep by puncturing its stomach. Mine is the one at the top, probably older than I am, with a carbon steel blade and a hand-carved ivory handle. The handles can be made from local Aubrac cattle bone, various exotic woods or even from Siberian mammoth tusk. The more expensive ones even have a rippling Damascus blade. Models with a corkscrew have a design shaped like a woman’s leg where the lower bolster represents her shoe or boot. The handle is made out of two brass plates that support the material of the handle, joined at either end by brass bolsters which adds style and also gives strength to the blade. The handle is attached with brass rivets – positioned on one side to show a cross, the so-called “Shepherd’s rosary”.  The patented locking mechanism is in the shape of a bee and has become the symbol of the Laguiole knife. Early ones like mine have a more primitive bee symbol, sometimes confused with a horsefly.Local legend has it that the bee was Napoleon Bonaparte’s imperial seal, granted to the town of Laguiole in token of his gratitude for the  courage of local men during the battles of the Peninsular War. The one at the bottom is modern, less than ten years old. I think I know a man who would kill for one of these…






















































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