The world of Swiss Army Knives was created in 1891 by the Swiss manufacturer now known as Victorinox, with the help of many smaller Swiss cutlers. They manufactured the first Swiss Soldier Knife for the Swiss Army, and one has been issued to every enlisted person since then.
In 1908 the Swiss manufacturer now known as Wenger also started making these knives, and the supply of the Soldier knife was split in half across the two manufacturers by the Swiss military. The two companies Victorinox ('The Original Swiss Army Knife'), and Wenger ('The Genuine Swiss Army Knife') are the only organisations legally allowed to use the term Swiss Army Knife in reference to their products.
The Victorinox company was started by Swiss cutler Karl Elsener. Many of the knives were originally sold through his mother's hat shop in the German speaking town of Ibach. His mother's name, Victoria, was where half the company's eventual name would come from, the other half being 'inox', taken from the steel manufacturing breakthrough known as 'inoxydable' (stainless) in French, a reference to the stainless steel that was eventually used, and forever changed the cutlery business.
The Wenger company started out as Boechat & Cie in 1893 in the small town of Courtetelle. A few years later the company was purchased by a number of entrepreneurs and renamed the Fabrique Suisse De Coutellerie SA. A short time later, Theo Wenger was hired and promoted to director. The company first took on the Wenger name in 1907 as Wenger Co Limited Partnership, later in 1922 to become the current Wenger Co SA.
In 1897 Karl Elsener brought out his legendary Officer's and Sports Knife, this was the start of the the ubiquitous Victorinox 91mm range, and over time both companies started making tools for the general public - in addition to their military contracts. It is these models (typically with red handles), not the Soldier models, that most people think of when envisioning a Swiss Army Knife! Over the decades many, many varied models and sizes have been manufactured. See Wiki pages right →
For nearly one hundred years the two companies operated autonomously. However in 2005 Victorinox took over Wenger, but ran the two companies completely independently, with separate product lines, for several years. In 2014 Victorinox merged the two product lines, making Victorinox the sole manufacturer of Swiss Army Knives once again, although they decided to continue manufacturing some of the former Wenger knives under the Victorinox 'Delémont' brand. See Wiki Delémont pages right →
Swiss Army Knives have grown from being an essential tool for soldiers to a world-wide icon of ingenuity and quality. The Swiss Army Knife is now used by people across the globe in every industry and in everyday life, many refer to it as the little red knife or the little red toolbox. The term 'Swiss Army Knife' has even entered the common vernacular, as being someone, or something, that is very useful and can accomplish multiple tasks! This amazing tool has traveled all continents, across the oceans, to the peaks of the highest mountains, and several times into outer space. It can make your life easier, more enjoyable, and it may even save it !
There are many thousands of users of these wonderfully simple, yet incredibly useful, pocket tools across the world, and also a community of people enthusiastically collecting Swiss Army Knives. This site provides information about the Swiss Army Knife (or SAK), for these people and the general public.
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