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HISTORY, LEGENDS AND TRADITIONS

Histoire, légendes & traditions du couteau Laguiole

La Coutellerie de Laguiole Honoré Durand has chosen a logo saying "Laguiole de l'Artisan" (the craftsman's knife) inserted inside a bull's silhouette. It prooves the knives authenticity, added to a quality handcraft increase in value.

To Laguiole, our company is the only Craft factory which masters the manufacturing of spare parts.
Do not confuse manufacturer of knives (we make our own spare part to arrive at the finished knife) with fitter of knives (the one who only assembles spare parts made somewhere else that to Laguiole).

We write LAGUIOLE and we pronounce "LAÏOLE". We kept the former pronunciation, in dialect, in Occitan, it is the reason why we speak about Laïole. 
Precision: the recent searches allowed to tidy up the history of our famous knife (searches published in the leaflet of the Tourist office of cantonal inspired of Mr Lemasson's works).

Summary :

A two centuries history
1 - [1829] - The folding Laguiole knife with forced notch is born
2 - [1829 - 1880] - The local production is ensured by some craftsmen
3 - [1880 - 1920/30] - The era of the cutlers of Laguiole
4 - [1930 - 1987] - The demand increases. Thiers gradually ensure the whole manufacturing of the Laguiole knife
5 - [1987 - 2004] - The local cutlery starts again, initiated by local representatives

A few legends, rumours and traditions 
6 - What means the cross on the Laguiole knife handle ?
7 - What insect is represented on the spring ?
8 - Why a Laguiole knife has to be sold and cannot be given ?
9 - A few popular rumours about the Laguiole knives

A two centuries history... and of narratives by always corresponding in the reality!

Le couteau Laguiole Capujadou

At the beginning of the 19th century, the local knife had for name ' Capujadou '. It was a fixed and sharp emmanchée blade on a piece of wood; it is the first knife of Laguiole.

In 1828, the first Cutler in service to Laguiole is Mr Moulin.

 

[1828]

The folding Laguiole knife with forced notch is born.
This model is very close to the current version which we all know. 
Aubrac is a vast plateau with isulated farms where several families live. The elder ones left to Catalonia for the winter season and worked as sawyers. Some of them returned with a Spanish knife in their pocket: the navaja. The Laguiole knife slender handle and the yatagan shaped blade are inspired from this knife.

Couteau Laguiole droit ancien

Laguiole Droit pulled(fired) of " Cutlery industry of the Origins in our days Mr Camille Pagé 1896 - Works Volume 1*2 page 300 "

 

Couteau Laguiole droit Honoré Durand

Our current manufacturing of straight Laguiole: Laguiole Antique

 

Couteau Laguiole de poche pliant Honoré Durand

The model of knife current folding Laguiole, the one that we know all, appeared from the years [1850-1860].

Opposite, the knife Laguiole of 2nd generation appeared between 1850 and 1860, here the Laguiole folding prestige 1 room with wooden sleeve of deer.

 

[1829 - 1880]

The local production is ensured by some craftsmen (often blacksmiths) and makes it possible to supply the needs of the peasants of l'Aubrac.

The knife has a very single line. Most of all it is a practical and useful tool. It evolves according to the need of its users. 
- the punch appears around 1840. This tool is intended for the breeders.The cows having the paunch which inflates resulting from the fermentation of wet grass. The punch is used to perforate the paunch. The punch was also used like an awl to pierce leather.
the corkscrew was added in 1880. This accessory was added when "Rouergats" moved to Paris to be coal merchants or bar keepers.

[1880 - 1920/30]

This period correspond to the height of the fame of the cutlers of Laguiole (workshops with twenty and more workers) who produce quality crafted knives. Calmels and Pagès receive many rewards at the national contests. With the end of the century, in Thiers, industrial processes appear, but Laguiole preserves of any modernization.

[1930 - 1987]

The fame of the knife having exceeded Aubrac, the demand increases. As the cutlers of the village cannot fullfill the orders (they are not willing to invest in machines), Thiers gradually ensure the whole manufacturing of the Laguiole knife. 
A handcraft prestige manufacture is maintained in Laguiole, but on a very weak scale compared with the massive industrial production of Thiers.

[1987 - 2004]

The local cutlery starts again, initiated by local representatives (mainly by Mr Pierre Malet). 
From 1985, assembly workshops appear again. 
In 1988, in the Laguiole production zone (northern of Aveyron), two forging mills manufacture the separate parts of the knife. The success is incredible (in 1981, in the village only 2 points of sale remained which resold manufactured knives from Thiers). 
From 1997, in the Laguiole production zone, approximately 400 000 Laguiole knifes are manufactured annually.

A few legends, rumours and traditions

What means the cross on the Laguiole knife handle?

It is called the "shepherd's cross" 
It appeared quite recently: end of the XIXth century. Twice a year the bovine transhumance occurs on the vast basaltic Aubrac plateau where the Laguiole village is located in May, the Sunday closest to the 20 and in October on Saint Géraud Day). In the old days, the distance was covered by foot on the paths called drailles and thus the transhumance was a severl days expedition.
In our region were the catholic religion had a great importance, the transhumant shepherds used to stick their knife's blade into the bread. The cross was standing for an oratory for prayer (one says it is the shepherd's rosary). That is why this decoration appears on one sid side of the handle only. 
The ancient Laguiole knives bear this decoration most of the time but other patterns adorned the knives on the customers demand.

What insect is represented on the spring?

It is the bee, symbol of the Laguiole knife.
Our local legend says it is Napoleon Bonaprte's imperial seal that was offered to the Laguiole town for token of his gratitude for the men's courage during the battles.
The bee is a technical term used by manufacturers to designate the springhead. On our famous knife the springhead is a bee. 

Beware, a bee on a knife does not guaranty the quality or origin of the knife!
Click here to get informations on countefeits

Is the bee the only pattern on the spring ?

Still a reference to the ancient Laguiole knives 100 or 150 years old, the bee is not the only pattern you can have on your Laguiole knife spring. We offer a varietyof choices: a human face, a four-leaf clover (a token of lucky charm), a scallop shell (a reference to the path to Santiago de Compostela which goes across the Aubrac region), a smoooh bee, without a pattern, very stylized,...
We resumed the traditional manufacturing which was realised on the clients' demand. We offer to customize entirely your Laguiole knife with whatever pattern you wish.
See the Collection range >

Why a Laguiole knife has to be sold and cannot be given ?

Superstition is the reason.
The custom says that a cutting object cannot be given in order to avoid the risk of cutting the love or frienship existing between the person who gives the present and the one who receives it. 
To ward off misfortune or to maintain tradition, the person who receives a knife as a gift has to give a coin to the the one who offers the knife, the present becomes a trade.

A few popular rumours about the Laguiole knives

- If you watch the knife horizontally with the bee downwards when the blade is folded, you will see that the top bolsterlooks like a whale head.
- In a laguiole knife, the blade symbolises water, the handle earth and the brass bolsters stands for fire.
- The blunt edge of the knife blade represents the days of the week.
- A 2 pieces laguiole knife handle composed of a blade and corkscrew is called a handle "woman leg" because if the bottom bolster is concave, then it looks like stiletto heels with the female calf above...


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