Posted on January 08 2017, by Gladys Breckenridge
In 1985 I was visiting England with my parents, who took me to the grand Victoria and Albert Museum in London. That year they had an exhibit entitled “The 100 most beautiful products in the world”. There were the items you would expect suspects, like a Rolex and the Porche 911.
But in one small display case was a product so simple and elegant it made me stop in my tracks - because I owned one! It was an Opinel No. 8 (which he proudly sell at the lodge). My grandfather had given me his, and I kept it in my fly fishing vest. Seeing it in the V&A gave me a whole new appreciation and helped me understand just why I loved that old knife so much.
In the 1890s Joseph Opinel began making this folding knife for the local herdsmen and paysans-vignerons in Savoie, France. He later opened a small shop near the Chambéry railway junction, where the knife became popular with railroad workers. Inexpensive, yet durable and elegant, they happily used it to cut their bread, carve their meat, at work, and at home. As the knife became more widely used by the railroad workers, they carried it on the railway lines across France, and quickly spread its fame throughout the country and ultimately around the world.
The No. 8 is small enough to be used as a pocketknife. It is made of tough carbon steel, works great as a firesteel and then resharpens with ease. You can use it to serve cheese on a picnic, to cut fruit in the kitchen, in the workshop, as an extra blade in your pack or tackle box, or even to batton kindling. Everyone needs this knife.