Victorinox - Swiss Army Knives by Derek Jackson
A fascinating, colorfully illustrated celebration of one of the great icons of Swiss culture: in France it's the Couteau Swiss, in Germany the Schweizer Messer, and to the English speaking world it's the Victorinox Swiss Army Knife - used by military programs the world over, given away as gifts to guests by the White House (Lyndon Johnson did it first), and even taken as part of the equipment on the Space Shuttle.
Charles Elsener, the fourth son of a hat maker, decided not to enter the family business but to become a cutler. After serving his apprenticeship in south Germany, he opened his own business near Schwyz in Switzerland. Soon after, in 1891, he formed the Swiss Cutlery Guild with the main aim of producing soldiers' knives for the Swiss Army, which had to date been bought from German sources. By the end of the year the first batch had been delivered and Elsener's plan proved a success - the first knife, known by name rather than type number - the Soldier's knife - had a blade, awl, can opener, and screwdriver.
Then the development started: as well as the simple Soldier's knife he quickly developed the Student Knife, the Cadet Knife and Farmer's Knife. Because the Soldier's knife was heavy, Elsener developed the lighter Officer's knife, with an added second blade and a corkscrew.
Today, Victorinox is the biggest cutlery producer in Europe, producing 34,000 Officer's knives in 100 different styles daily, along with 43,000 of 300 different styles of pocket knife, and the same number of kitchen knives. The biggest of the Swiss Army Knives, the Swiss Champ, has 31 different features, including a magnifying glass, but still only weighs 6.5 ounces.
Unprecedented access to Victorinox's archives allow this book to cover in detail:
• The company history
• The product history
• Comprehensive model identification for collectors
• Hundreds of collectible examples illustrated
• Stories and anecdotes from military and other owners
Revised printing: 2009