Today's posting will showcase three of my favorite pocket knives, all versions of the famous Mercator folding lock-back K55K, Kat Knife. These knives have been made in nearly the same configuration and style by Mercator since around WW1. They are still made today by Mercator in a small brick building, by hand, in Solingen, Germany...... each step of the manufacturing is done by a real person and not by an automated machine........... including the final inspection!
These pocket knives were the unofficial standard pocket knife of the German soldier during WW2 and became very well known here in the United States after the war, when many of these knives were brought back by American GI's as war souvenirs.
Update 4-26-11: I received an email from my uncle who told me that he has a Mercator pocket knife that his dad, my grandfather, brought back from WW2. He said that he carried it as a kid as his "carry-knife" and used to love to partially open it and "flick it" like a switchblade. I would imagine that my grandfather picked this up somewhere in France or Germany towards the end of the war. I remember him telling me a story about how a number of German soldiers, "armed to the teeth", stepped out in front of his jeep with their hands up to surrender....... they were ready to quit. He said that they took all of their weapons and then had them pile onto the jeep. He said that they hauled them back behind the lines to the prisoner holding area. This could very well be the time he picked up the knife.
They may have started out as souvenirs, but they quickly became prized for their balance, durability, and ability to hold an amazing sharp edge. These knives can still be purchased today and are actually well know in the paper mills out here in the Pacific Northwest as the best "paper maker's" knife ever. In fact the knives are often given out by companies that do business with the mill's, as promotional give-away's for the machine crews and can often be purchased from the individual mill's by mill workers. I carry one all the time at work and even have one with me when I'm out and about on my own time...... they're that good.
Here's a fantastic short video documentary that was filmed at the Mercator manufacturing shop in Germany several year ago. It's about 3 minutes long and well worth the time to watch.......
To keep from loosing my knife while out on the boat, at work at the mill, or around town, I have devised a great carrying set-up. I discovered that the nylon belt carrier for a mini-mag flashlight fits the Mercator knives exactly! I add to this, a Czechoslovakian military surplus, belt "D" ring, with a leather cord and stainless steel fishing swivel. It's a perfect combination, looks good and I always know were to find my knife.
Here's the photo showcase of my three knives. The two black ones are plain Mercators and the white knife is a promotional Mercator knife from a paper mill supply company. You will notice that one of the black handled knives has a shorter blade.......... I accidentally snapped the tip off years ago and had to re-grind it. It actually turned out to be a great modification for a work knife. Now the blade is really stout and tough! That short one's my daily work knife, and trust me, I abuse that knife daily and it just doesn't seem to phase it (it just gets a bit more beat up). Now for the pictures: