The Opinel Knife: Older Than Your Great (Great) Grandparents

Your new favorite knife has a 120 year history. Study up.

1872 - Joseph Opinel is born in Savoie.
1872 - Joseph Opinel is born in Savoie.

1890 - The first Opinel knives are manufactured in a small workshop in a village near Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne in Savoie.
1890 - The first Opinel knives are manufactured in a small workshop in a village near Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne in Savoie.

1897 - The full range of knife sizes, numbered 1 through 12, is developed.
1897 - The full range of knife sizes, numbered 1 through 12, is developed.

1901 - Joseph Opinel opens his first full-blown factory, along with a specialized machine to craft knife handles.
1901 - Joseph Opinel opens his first full-blown factory, along with a specialized machine to craft knife handles.

1914 - Knife making goes into full-scale mass production to keep up with demand. The rest, as they say, is history.
1914 - Knife making goes into full-scale mass production to keep up with demand. The rest, as they say, is history.

There aren't very many products still around from the 19th century that you can still buy today. Which, for the most part, is fine with us, since stickball equipment isn't exactly in high demand these days.

But when you need something that's got a seriously impressive track record, an Opinel knife has got plenty of history to back it up.

Joseph Opinel, coming from a family of blacksmiths, established his workshop in the French Alps in 1890, releasing the iconic Opinel series knives in twelve numbered sizes seven years later.

Then things started getting serious: the first factory was opened in 1901 with a machine to forge the handles to increase output. Throughout the early 20th century, things went into full-blown mass production at a brand new factory to keep up with the knives' massive popularity.

Aside from a couple small tweaks to improve the safety, the knife's design is as unchanged today as it was when it was first invented -- or as it was when Pablo Picasso used his to carve sculptures (yes, for real).

They've been the go-to for chefs, explorers, and artists, giving credence to the knife's long history. The versatility has made it a ubiquitous favorite (and the MoMA-endorsed design doesn’t hurt, either). Keep an eye out, and you’ll still see ‘em in use today.

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