Monday, March 8, 2010

That's Not a Knife - The Swiss Army Giant

Which boy did not dream of getting his first folding pocket knife. How many hours have I ogled in front of the glass Swiss Army Knife display, comparing the functions of one model over the other. Recently I have found the grand daddy of all Swiss army knives the "Swiss Army Giant". This 85 tool "pocket knife" claims that it is not for use but as a collector or display model. And with a MSRP of $1400, I am sure no one but a collector would be buying these up. A list of the 85 functions can be found below.
This particular knife is made by Wenger, the "Genuine Swiss Army Knife". However many might remember the name Victorinox as the "Original Swiss Army Knife". Well what would a good blog post be without a little story or a history lesson. So here you go the history of the Swiss army knife, an exert from Wikipedia.

In 1891, Karl Elsener, then owner of a company that made surgical equipment, discovered to his dismay that the Modell 1890 pocket knives supplied to the Swiss army were in fact made in Solingen (Germany). In that age of nationalism, Elsener set out to manufacture the knives in Switzerland itself. At the end of 1891 Elsener took over production of the Model 1890 knives, but Elsener was not satisfied with its first incarnation. In 1896, after five years of hard work, Elsener managed to put the blades on both sides of the handle using a special spring mechanism, allowing him to use the same spring to hold them in place, an innovation at the time. This allowed Elsener to put twice as many features on the knife; he added a second cutting blade and a corkscrew.

Karl Elsener used the cross and shield to identify his knives, the symbol still used today on Victorinox-branded versions. When his mother died in 1909, Elsener decided to name his company "Victoria" in her memory. In 1921 the company started using stainless steel to make the Swiss Army Knife. Stainless steel is also known as "inox", short for the French term acier inoxydable. "Victoria" and "inox" were then combined to create the company name "Victorinox". Victorinox's headquarters and show room are located in the Swiss town of Ibach.

According to Carl Elsener, head of Victorinox in 2009, U.S. soldiers bought Swiss Army knives in huge numbers at PX stores on military bases. As "Schweizer Offiziers-Messer" was too difficult for them to say, they called it the "Swiss army knife", and that is the name it is now known by all over the world.

Elsener, through his company Victorinox, managed to corner the market until 1893, when the second industrial cutler of Switzerland, Paul Boéchat & Cie, headquartered in Delémont in the French-speaking region of Jura, started selling a similar product. This company was later acquired by its then General Manager, Theodore Wenger, and renamed the Wenger Company. In 1908 the Swiss government, wanting to prevent an issue over regional favouritism, but perhaps wanting a bit of competition in hopes of lowering prices, split the contract with Victorinox and Wenger, each getting half of the orders placed. By mutual agreement, Wenger advertises as the Genuine Swiss Army Knife and Victorinox uses the slogan the Original Swiss Army Knife.

On April 26, 2005 Victorinox acquired Wenger, becoming once again the sole supplier of knives to the Swiss Army. Victorinox has stated that it intends to keep both consumer brands intact.

1. 2.5-inch 60% serrated locking blade 2. Nail file, nail cleaner 3. Corkscrew 4. Adjustable pliers with wire crimper and cutter 5. Removable screwdriver bit adapter 6. 2.5-inch blade for Official World Scout Knife 7. Spring-loaded, locking needlenose pliers with wire cutter 8. Removable screwdriver bit holder 9. Phillips head screwdriver bit 0 10. Phillips head screwdriver bit 1 11. Phillips head screwdriver bit 2 12. Flat head screwdriver bit 0.5 mm x 3.5 mm 13. Flat head screwdriver bit 0.6 mm x 4.0 mm 14. Flat head screwdriver bit 1.0 mm x 6.5 mm 15. Magnetised recessed bit holder 16. Double-cut wood saw with ruler (inch/cm)17. Bike chain rivet setter, removable 5-mm allen wrench, screwdriver for slotted and Phillips head screws 18. Removable tool for adjusting bike spokes, 10-mm hexagonal key for nuts 19. Removable 4-mm curved allen wrench with Phillips head screwdriver20. Removable 10-mm hexagonal key 21. Patented locking Phillips head screwdriver 22. Universal wrench 23. Laser pointer with 300 ft range 24. 1.65-inch clip point utility blade 25. Metal saw, metal file 26. 4-mm allen wrench 27. 2.5-inch blade 28. Fine metal file with precision screwdriver 29. Double-cut wood saw 30. Cupped cigar cutter with double-honed edges 31. 12/20-gauge choke tube tool 32. Watch caseback opening tool 33. Snap shackle 34. Telescopic pointer 35. Compass, straight edge, ruler (in/cm) 36. Mineral crystal magnifier with precision screwdriver 37. 2.4-inch springless scissors with serrated, self-sharpening design 38. Shortix key 39. Flashlight 40. Fish scaler, hook disgorger, line guide 41. Micro tool holder 42. Micro tool adapter 43. Micro scraper straight 44. Reamer 45. Fine fork for watch spring bars 46. Pin punch 1.2 mm 47. Pin punch .8 mm 48. Round needle file 49. Removable tool holder with expandable receptacle 50. Removable tool holder 51. Multi-purpose screwdriver 52. Flat Phillips head screwdriver 53. Flat head screwdriver bit 0.5 mm x 3.5 mm 54. Spring-loaded, locking flat nose pliers with wire cutter 55. Phillips head screwdriver bit 0 56. Phillips head screwdriver bit 1 57. Phillips head screwdriver bit 2 58. Flat head screwdriver bit 0.5 mm x 3.5 mm 59. Flat head screwdriver bit 0.6 mm x 4.0 mm 60. Flat head screwdriver bit 1.0 mm x 6.5 mm 61. Can opener 62. Phillips head screwdriver 63. 2.5-inch clip point blade 64. Golf club face cleaner 65. 2.4-inch round tip blade 66. Patented locking screwdriver, cap lifter, can opener 67. Golf shoe spike wrench 68. Golf divot repair tool 69. Micro straight/curved 70. Special tool holder 71. Phillips head screwdriver 1.5 mm 72. Screwdriver 1.2 mm 73. Screwdriver 0.8 mm 74. Mineral crystal magnifier, fork for watch spring bars, small ruler 75. Removable screwdriver bit holder 76. Magnetised recessed bit holder 77. Tyre tread gauge 78. Reamer/awl 79. Patented locking screwdriver, cap lifter, wire stripper 80. Special key 81. Toothpick 82. Tweezers 83. Adapter 84. Keyring 85. Second keyring

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