A small Swiss Army Knife with a key ring attachment.
Where and how is it used?
I keep the three keys that I need every day attached to this key ring. They're always in my pocket. I use the tiny knife and scissors to open packets and fiddle with the tiny tweezers quite regularly.
What did you or someone else pay for it?
It was a present many years ago. I don't know how much it cost.
Why do you want to add it to the museum?
I have attached my main keys to a small knife like this since the late 1990s. This is the second one I have owned. It's useful but recently counted as a weapon at airports, so I've either had to mail it home or remember to leave it home when travelling by plane. It's very strange to not have it, to realise how much I use it, rely on it.
How was it made?
Is made in a factory
Is produced by local cottage industry
Is made to particular specifications
Is craft / hand-made
Is a service
Materials & Making
Who made or produced your commodity?
The Swiss Army knife company. knife factory workers?
Who was paid to make it?
They were. Plus the people who mined *& processed its ingredients and component parts, plus those who shipped and sold it, advertised, etc. it.
What skills does it take to make it?
Where was it made?
Switzerland? Probably not.
What does it cost to make it?
What is it made from?
Small knife blade, nail file and scissors. Seems like chromium-plates steel. Doesn't rust, though.
Red plastic with Swiss Army logo
3. key ring:
Circular key ring, small. Chroma-plates steel?
Buying & Owning
Who decides how much it costs?
Swiss Army Knife Co, and retailers?
Who or what assesses its quality?
Quality control inspectors at the factory?
Where is it sold?
Shops, online, don't know. I've never bought one myself.
Who or what sells it?
Shop assistants? Algorithms?
How did this thing arrive from where it was made to where you got it?
The person who gave it to me as a present.
Where is it used?
Wherever I go.
Where is it kept?
My trouser pocket.
How and by whom is it cared for?
Not cared for by me. Doesn't need care, expect when it's full of sand or cheese.
How long will it last?
Where will it go when it's finished with?
What is it worth?
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Questions and answers
Answer questions that the commodity contributor has asked. Help to reveal unknown quantities, properties and uses.
My name is Alice and I am a Commodity Consultant for MOCC.
It depends on what you classify as a tiny knife. There have certainly been instances of people trying to hijack planes using penknives for example:
“The Israeli government said yesterday that an incident aboard an El Al plane in which an Arab-Israeli was wrestled to the floor by a security guard was "to all appearances a terror attack"…
Mr Fukra managed to smuggle a small penknife on board through the security checks at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport, the most rigorous in the world. And two sky marshals, security guards disguised as passengers who travel on every El Al flight, had wrestled Mr Fukra to the floor, stripping him to make sure he was not carrying any explosives and sitting on top of him until the plane landed.”
Source: El Al passenger charged with attempted hijack
Thanks Alice. I will grumble about this no more.
Question: How Swiss and how Army is this knife?
My name is Jenny and I am a Commodity Consultant at MOCC.
Invented in the 1880s, and today still made exclusively in only two factories in Switzerland, the pocket knives are produced in dozens of varieties at a tune of more than 15 million per year. The Swiss Army knife is a pocket knife or multi-tool manufactured by Victorinox AG (and up to 2005 also by Wenger SA). The term "Swiss Army knife" was coined by American soldiers after World War II due to the difficulty they had in pronouncing "Offiziersmesser", the German name.
The Swiss Army knife generally has a very sharp blade, as well as various tools, such as screwdrivers, a can opener, and many others. These attachments are stowed inside the handle of the knife through a pivot point mechanism. The handle is usually red, and features a Victorinox or Wenger "cross" logo or, for Swiss military issue knives, the coat of arms of Switzerland.
It was in Ibach, in 1884, where Karl Elsener and his mother, Victoria, opened a cutlery cooperative that would soon produce the first knives sold to the Swiss Army. In the late 1880s, before there was ever an official Swiss Army knife, the Swiss Army decided to purchase a simple folding pocket knife for their soldiers. This knife was intended for use by the army in opening canned food and disassembling the M1889 Swiss service rifle which required a screwdriver for assembly. At that time, no Swiss company had the production capacity to supply the knives, so the initial order for 15,000 knives was filled by the German knife manufacturer Wester & Co. from Solingen, Germany. These knives were delivered in October 1891 and designated Modell 1890. The knife had a single blade, reamer, can opener, and screwdriver, with grips made out of dark oak. The original model, called the Soldier Knife, was made for troops who needed a foldable tool that could open canned food and aid in disassembling a rifle. The color red is no coincidence either, as it makes the knife stand out when lost in the snow. The Soldier Knife included a blade, a reamer, a can opener, a screwdriver, and oak handles. Originating in Ibach, Switzerland, the Swiss Army knife was first produced in 1891 after the company, Karl Elsener, which later became Victorinox, won the contract to produce the Swiss Army's Modell 1890 knife from the previous German manufacturer. In 1893, the Swiss cutlery company Paul Boéchat & Cie, which later became Wenger, received its first contract from the Swiss military to produce model 1890 knives; the two companies split the contract for provision of the knives from 1908 until Victorinox acquired Wenger in 2005.
Wenger RangerGrip 75 Swiss army knife. Since 2013, the knives of Wenger are integrated in Victorinox.
The design of the knife and its versatility have both led to worldwide recognition.
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Modell 1890, the first Swiss Soldier Knife produced by Wester & Co. Solingen. During the late 1880s, the Swiss Army decided to purchase a new folding pocket knife for their soldiers. This knife was to be suitable for use by the army in opening canned food and disassembling the Swiss service rifle, the Schmidt–Rubin, which required a screwdriver for assembly. In January 1891, the knife received the official designation Modell 1890. The knife had a blade, reamer, can-opener, screwdriver, and grips made out of dark oak wood that some say was later partly replaced with ebony wood. At that time no Swiss company had the necessary production capacity, so the initial order for 15,000 knives was placed with the German knife manufacturer Wester & Co. from Solingen, Germany. These knives were delivered in October 1891.
In 1891, Karl Elsener, then owner of a company that made surgical equipment, set out to manufacture the knives in Switzerland itself. At the end of 1891 Elsener began production of the Modell 1890 knives. Elsener then wanted to make a pocketknife more suitable to an Officer. In 1896, Elsener succeeded in attaching tools on both sides of the handle using a special spring mechanism: this allowed 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. On 12 June 1897 this knife featuring a second smaller cutting blade, corkscrew, and wood fiber grips was originally registered with the patent office as The Officer's and Sports Knife, though it was never part of a military contract.
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.
Elsener, through his company Victorinox, managed to control 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, Théodore 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 has advertised as the Genuine Swiss Army Knife and Victorinox used the slogan, the Original Swiss Army Knife.
On April 26, 2005, Victorinox acquired Wenger, once again becoming the sole supplier of knives to the Military of Switzerland. Victorinox had kept both consumer brands intact, but on January 30, 2013, Wenger and Victorinox announced that the separate knife brands were going to be merged into one brand: Victorinox. Wenger's watch and licensing business will continue as a separate brand.
Up to 2008 Victorinox AG and Wenger SA supplied about 50,000 knives to the Military of Switzerland each year, and manufactured many more for export, mostly to the United States. Many commercial Victorinox and Wenger Swiss Army knives can be immediately distinguished by the cross logos depicted on their grips; the Victorinox cross logo is surrounded by a shield while the Wenger cross logo is surrounded by a slightly rounded square.
On January 30, 2013, Wenger and Victorinox announced that the separate knife brands were going to be merged into one brand: Victorinox. The press release stated that Wenger's factory in Delemont would continue to produce knives and all employees at this site will retain their jobs. They further elaborated that an assortment of items from the Wenger line-up will remain in production under the Victorinox brand name. Wenger's U.S. headquarters will be merged with Victorinox's location in Monroe, Connecticut. Wenger's watch and licensing business will continue as a separate brand.
Many other companies manufacture similar-looking folding knives in a wide range of quality and prices. The cross-and-shield emblem and the words SWISS ARMY are registered trademarks of Victorinox AG and its related companies.
The one-hand knife of the German Army as issued by the Bundeswehr since 2003. In 2007, the Swiss Government made a request for new updated soldier knives for the Swiss military for distribution in late 2008. The evaluation phase of the new soldier knife began in February 2008, when Armasuisse issued an invitation to tender. A total of seven suppliers from Switzerland and other countries were invited to participate in the evaluation process. Functional models submitted by suppliers underwent practical testing by military personnel in July 2008, while laboratory tests were used to assess compliance with technical requirements. A cost-benefit analysis was conducted and the model with the best price/performance ratio was awarded the contract. The order for 75,000 soldier knives plus cases was worth SFr 1.38 million. This equates to a purchase price of SFr 18.40, €12.12, GB£17.99 in October 2009 per knife plus case.
Victorinox won the contest with a knife based on the One-Hand Germany Army Knife as issued by the German Bundeswehr and released in the civilian model lineup with the addition of a toothpick and tweezers stored in the nylon grip scales (side cover plates) as the One-Hand Trekker/Trailmaster model. Mass production of the new Soldatenmesser 08 (Soldier Knife 08) for the Swiss Armed Forces was started in December 2008.
There are various models of the Swiss Army Knife with different tool combinations. Though Victorinox doesn't provide custom knives, they have produced many variations to suit individual users.
Large blade, imprinted on the blade shank of Victorinox models with "VICTORINOX SWISS MADE" to verify the knife's authenticity.
Nail file / nail cleaner
Nail file / nail cleaner / metal file / metal saw
Fish scaler / hook disgorger / ruler in cm and inches
Electrician's blade / wire scraper
Pharmaceutical spatula (cuticle pusher)
Cyber Tool (bit driver)
Pliers / wire cutter / wire crimper
Shackle opener / marlinspike
Can opener / 3 mm slotted screwdriver
Cap opener / 6 mm slotted screwdriver / wire stripper
Combination tool containing cap opener / can opener / 5 mm slotted screwdriver / wire stripper
2mm slotted screwdriver
Corkscrew or Phillips driver
Mini screwdriver (designed to fit within the corkscrew)
Pressurized ballpoint pen (with a retractable version on smaller models, and can be used to set DIP switches)
Digital clock / alarm / timer / altimeter /thermometer / barometer
Three Victorinox SAK models featured a butane lighter: the Swissflame, Campflame, and Swisschamp XXLT, first introduced in 2002 and then discontinued in 2005. The models were never sold in the United States due to lack of safety features. They used a standard piezoelectric ignition system for easy and quick ignition with adjustable flame, and were designed for operation at altitudes up to 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) above sea level and continuous operation of 10 minutes.
In January 2010, Victorinox announced the Presentation Master models, released in April 2010. The technological tools included a laser pointer, and detachable flash drive with fingerprint reader. Victorinox now sells an updated version called the Slim Jetsetter, with "a premium software package that provides ultra secure data encryption, automatic backup functionality, secure web surfing capabilities, file and email synchronization between the drive and multiple computers, Bluetooth pairing and much more. On the hardware side of things, biometric fingerprint technology, laser pointers, LED lights, Bluetooth remote control and of course, the original Swiss Army Knife implements – blade, scissors, nail file, screwdriver, key ring and ballpoint pen are standard. **Not every feature is available on every model within the collection."
In 2006, Wenger produced a knife called "The Giant" that included every implement the company ever made, with 87 tools and 141 different functions. It was recognized by Guinness World Records as the world's most multifunctional penknife. It retails for about €798 or $1000, though some vendors demand much higher prices.
In the same year, Victorinox released the SwissChamp XAVT, consisting of 118 parts and 80 functions with a retail price of $425. The Guinness Book of Records recognizes a unique 314-blade Swiss Army-style knife made in 1991 by Master Cutler Hans Meister as the world's largest penknife, weighing 11 pounds.
Some Swiss Army knives feature locking blades to prevent accidental closure. Several Wenger and Victorinox models feature a locking blade secured by a slide lock that is operated with an unlocking-button integrated in the scales. Furthermore, several models from the Victorinox 111mm series feature a more robust double liner lock that secures the cutting blade and larger screwdriver/cap opener/wire stripper implement designed towards prying.
Rivets and flanged bushings made from brass hold all machined steel parts and other tools, separators and the scales together. The rivets are made by cutting and pointing appropriately sized bars of solid brass.
The separators between the tools have been made from aluminium alloy since 1951. This makes the knives lighter. Previously these separating layers were made of nickel-silver.
The martensitic stainless steel alloy used for the cutting blades is optimized for high toughness and corrosion resistance and has a composition of 15% chromium, 0.60% silicon, 0.52% carbon, 0.50% molybdenum, and 0.45% manganese and is designated X55CrMo14 or DIN 1.4110 according to Victorinox. After a hardening process at 1040 °C and annealing at 160 °C the blades achieve an average hardness of 56 HRC. This steel hardness is suitable for practical use and easy resharpening, but less than achieved in stainless steel alloys used for blades optimized for high wear resistance. According to Victorinox the martensitic stainless steel alloy used for the other parts is X39Cr13 (aka DIN 1.4031, AISI/ASTM 420) and for the springs X20Cr13 (aka DIN 1.4021, but still within AISI/ASTM 420).
The steel used for the wood saws, scissors and nail files has a steel hardness of HRC 53, the screwdrivers, tin openers and awls have a hardness of HRC 52, and the corkscrew and springs have a hardness of HRC 49.
The metal saws and files, in addition to the special case hardening, are also subjected to a hard chromium plating process so that iron and steel can also be filed and cut.
Although red Cellulose Acetate Butyrate (CAB) (generally known trade names are Cellidor, Tenite and Tenex) scaled Swiss Army Knives are most common, there are many colors and alternative materials like nylon and aluminum for the scales available. Many textures, colors and shapes now appear in the Swiss Army Knife. Since 2006 the scales on some knife models can have textured rubber non-slip inlays incorporated, intended for sufficient grip with moist or wet hands. A modding community has also developed, resulting in custom models produced with colorful anodized patterns or wood handles.
During assembly, all components are placed on several brass rivets. The first components are generally an aluminum separator and a flat steel spring. Once a layer of tools is installed, another separator and spring are placed for the next layer of tools. This process is repeated until all the desired tool layers and the finishing separator are installed. Once the knife is built, the metal parts are fastened by adding brass flanged bushings to the rivets. The excess length of the rivets is then cut off to make them flush with the bushings. Finally the remaining length of the rivets is flattened into the flanged bushings.
After the assembly of the metal parts, the blades are sharpened to a 15° angle, resulting in a 30° V-shaped steel cutting edge. The blades are then checked with a laser reflecting goniometer to verify the angle of the cutting edges. Finally the scales are pressed onto the flanged bushings. The scales are being held in place by holes incorporated in the insides of the scales that result in a tight shape connection with the flanged bushings.
Victorinox models are available in 58 mm (2.3 in), 74 mm (2.9 in), 84 mm (3.3 in), 91 mm (3.6 in), 93 mm (3.7 in), 100 mm (3.9 in), 108 mm (4.3 in) and 111 mm (4.4 in) lengths when closed. The thickness of the knives varies depending on the number of tool layers included. The 91 mm (3.6 in) models offer the most variety in tool configurations in the Victorinox model line with as many as 15 layers.
Wenger models are available in 65 mm (2.6 in), 75 mm (3.0 in), 85 mm (3.3 in) 93 mm (3.7 in), 100 mm (3.9 in), 120 mm (4.7 in) and 130 mm (5.1 in) lengths when closed. Thickness varies depending on the number of tool layers included. The 85 mm (3.3 in) models offer the most variety in tool configurations in the Wenger model line, with as many as 10 layers.
The Swiss Army knife has been added to the collection of the New York Museum of Modern Art and Munich's State Museum of Applied Art for its design. The term “Swiss Army” currently is a registered trademark owned by Victorinox AG and its subsidiary, Wenger SA. The television show MacGyver features Angus MacGyver who frequently uses different Swiss Army knives in various episodes to solve problems and construct simple objects. The term "Swiss Army knife" has entered popular culture as a metaphor for usefulness and adaptability. The multi-purpose nature of the tool has also inspired a number of other gadgets.
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