VICTORINOX "THE ORIGNAL SWISS ARMY KNIFE" FOUNDED IN 1884 AND STILL IN OPERATION.
Made in Ibach in the Canton region of Schwyz Switzerland.Schwyz is a german speaking area.
the founder Karl Elsener was born oct. 9th 1860. His mothers name(who the company was named after) was, Victoria Elsener-Ott.
First off let me say that i am just a collector tryin' to help out others.There is alot of information that i have not ,or will not mention till a later post maybe,but i wanted to give you the basic "gist" of the story.These facts maybe wrong as people do make mistakes,as do i. But this is what i have found in my research of the company and its products.i will do other posts on individual knives or styles in the future,as of now i cannot do pics but i will try ASAP(As they speak a thousand words)!!!!!one point i wanna make is that "Swiss Army Knife" (SAK) is only made by 2 companies (victorinox and wenger) all the rest are fakes, immitations , or just a similar knife. SAK has become a "generic term" used through out the world for many things.Pre WW2 these knives were really only known by Swiss nationals and parts of Europe.At the end of WW2 they started to sell "officers knives and sport knives" through the american PX stores. Word of mouth of the quality from american troops started the RAGE across the WORLD!!!
THE SWISS ARMY: In 1848 a new constitution modeled after America was established. Later modified in 1974. In accordance with confederation neutrality , the army is only there to preserve independence of the country. The army is citizen based and all males 20-34 (officers 20-58) have required duty.Women may serve as volunteers.After basic training there are 7 annual 3 week refresher courses , later there are shorter supplimentary courses.The soldier keeps all his equipment,arms,and ammo at their home.The Swiss infantry has a reputation for being one of the best equipped infantry in the world today.
JAN 1ST 1884: Elsener opened shop in a old mill on the Toelback , makeing knives,repair work, and daily honing.The waters of the Toelback provided power to the grinders and polishers.Victoria his mother, sold his goods out of the hat shop she ran out of the family home.
1889 : In 1889 the army of the Swiss Federation introduced a new rifle to be issued. Disassembly required a screwdriver.The first SAK was a one bladed jack knife with wooden handles.The army went to Solingen, Germany for the 1st "swiss soldiers knife"from 1889-1891, it had a blade,punch,tin opener,and screwdriver that was needed.In 1891 Karl Elsener won the Swiss army contract.
1891: The first victorinox "soldiers knives" were delivered by about two dozen local swiss master cutler shops.These were brought together by Elsener in order to win the contract and bring finances back to the swiss people. This project to win the army contract soon backfired! knives were of great quality , modeled after the old german version with blade,punch,tin opener,wooden scales ,and screwdriver. But the german companies coudl produce knives much cheaper.The series of small shops that formed the association with Elsener pulled out that year! Leaveing Elsener to forge on. Elsener lost his fortune and just avoided bankruptcy thanks to the help of his family.Elsener continued his work always adding new innovations to his multi bladed knives. The first being "school boy", "cadet knife",and "farmers knife".
JUNE 12TH 1897: Elsener registered his design that would launch him! The "officers knife" and "sports knife". The design was similar to the "soldiers knife" (4 blades), but with lighter due to weight saveing smooth fibre handles and an addition of a small pen blade and cork screw (cork screw and awl moved to back of knife), useing only 4 springs for 6 tools!!!The swiss army did not except the new knives as issue gear.But the knives quikly bacame popular with troops and officers alike.Soldiers bought them on their own from local cutlery shops and aded them to their equipment.Elsener kept up the quality and innovations in order for his business to survive the flood of german competition.
1902 : Elsener added more new models in 1902 adding wood saw,scissors,tweezers,toothpick,and lanyard shackles as options.
1909 : the 25th anniv. of the company. Elsener was granted permission by government to use the Swiss emblem of a metal cross (this was inlayed into the red fibre handles) first nickel silver was used then later stainless steel.This was a way to tell Elseners product from fakes.
1909 : Karl Elseners mother died at age 73. In remembrance of the contributions as a mother and business woman , Elsener used her name as his trademark "VICTORIA".
1914-1918 : In the war years the company made "soldier and officer knives" along with rifle parts and other items needed for the war effort.
1918 : Karl Elsener dies at age 58 leaving his factory in the hands of his 2 sons Carl and Alois
carl 1886-1950 alois 1889-1943
1918-1923 :company starts to fail due toend of the war and no call for military knives.
1923 : company starts use of newly invented stainess steel. The french word "INOXYABLE"(STAINLESS) was added to the company trademark , but was shortened to "INOXYD" then eventually worked into the name "VICTORINOX" IN 1931.
1920'S AND 1930'S : The demand for quality stainless export cutlery rose for the company.
1937 : the company switched from smooth fibre scales to "cellidor" scales.
During WW2 the exports declined , but was offset by a huge domestic demand for military knives and bayonets.
1942 : Carls son entered into the company business. the 3rd generation.
1950 : Carl sr. dies at age 64 leaving his wife "Elise" and 2 sons(carl and eduard )to run the business.
1945-1949 : Large quantities were sold through PX's of the U.S.A army,navy,and air forces.It is largely due to these sales that he "SWISS ARMY KNIFE" became so popular around the world.
through out post war years the reputation of the Victorinox name and their "swiss army knives" were of the highest regard , known for quality and precision.OFFIZIERSMESSER (officers knife) was hard to say for the american troops , so it was simply called the swiss army knife (SAK) In France it is known as the " couteau suisse" and in german countries "schweizer messer".
U.S PRESIDENTS: Lyndon B. Johnson ordered 4000 w/ his initials to give out to white house guests.Ronald Reagan and George Bush continued this tradition.
NASA commissioned 50 SAK's as issue equipment for thr "Columbia Space Shuttle Program" these were standard "master craftsman " models but stamped w/ NASA on scales (highly prized)
1976 : since 76 the german army has been supplied issue SAK's which feature a eagle on olive green scales.
Today ...as with days long ago." swiss army knife" has been used as a generic term for everything, and immitations and fakes have been made in the milllions. But Victorinox with help from the government have fought many legal battles to prevent these!Few knowledgeable collectors would be fooled by these fakes, but their presence makes confusing for some and risks damaging Victorinoxs' reputation.as many collectors know....it is hard enough to follow model #'s(as they are not stamped on knives) and many knives take a lil detective work(most are figured out by blades/tools and tang stamp)and there are 100's of variations...i will post some charts and lists even pix ASAP!!!!!!
here is some added info...notes....and the such :
the blades of all (officer/soldier)knives are made from a special martensitic stainless chrome molybdenum steel , mixed from carbon,chrome,molybdenum,manganese,and silicon (X55CrMo14)
THROUGH A HARDENING PROCESS OF 1900 DEG. FERH. (ANNEALING @ 140 DEG. FERH.)
BLADES achieve RC hardness of 56 (most cheap blades RC@ 50 or less)
RC 56 can be hard to sharpen w/ steel, some reccomend carborundum stone.
various tools are hardened to different degrees.
wood saw,scissors,nail file = RC 53
screwdriver,tin opener,awl = RC 52
cork screw and springs = RC 49
parts metal = X39Cr13
springs = X20Cr13
PRESSURES : the spring exerts a pressure of 26.5 lbs. on the long blade and 17.6 lbs on the small blade the combine to exert 44 lbs of pressure on the cork screw.
with 2 springs and 6 pressure points , a total of 154 lbs. of pressure is achieved!
now say a larger model like a champ....8 springs and 24 pressure points...a total of 600 lbs is achieved.....
liners and layer seperators have been made of aluminum alloy (ALOX) since 1951(helping w/ weight) prior to 1951 they were nickel silver...some times brass was used(soldier) rivets were brass
scales are cellidor....a hard wearing plastic made in the USA.
VICTORINOX has used plastics, many hard woods,genuine horn,stag,mother of pearl,ALOX, scales among other special run materials through time!!!!
in 1990 they added a fine swiss watch into a handle......
untill 1957 you can find some knives marked "victoria" or "elinox"
victorinox has made special edition runs for various armed forces : German army,dutch army,nigerian air force all ordered special knives...(nigerian A.F. had special curved blade to cut paracord ordered)
other armies have used the swiss armies ALOX soldier also(LOOK FOR "alox" thread soon)
2005 april 26th : victorinox buys out wenger co.
victorinox "THE ORIGINAL SWISS ARMY KNIFE" had 50/50 of he swiss army contract...their competion has always been WENGER "THE GENUINE SWISS ARMY KNIFE"(LOOK FOR THREAD ON WENGER SOON)
victorinox now makes the bayonet for the SWISS STGW 90 and are used for assembly of SIG550 AND SIG510 assault rifle
VICTORINOX U.S.A SERVICE CENTER
7 VICTORIA DRIVE
P.O BOX 1212
MONROE , CT. 06468-1212
WENGER SWISS ARMY KNIVES
15 CORPORATE DRIVE
ORANGEBURG , NY 10962
SOME WEB SITES :
SWISS ARMY KNIVES: A COLLECTORS COMPANION BY DEREK JACKSON
A COLLECTORS GUIDE TO VICTORINOX 58MM SMALL SIZE POCKET KNIVES BY: DANIEL J. JAQUART
THE KNIFE AND ITS HISTORY : BY VICTORINOX
SWISS ARMY KNIVES HANDBOOK- THE OFFICIAL HISTORY AND OWNERS GUIDE BY KATHRYN KANE
HOPE THIS HELPS FOR NOW....MORE TO COME...SOON I HOPE ..LOL