Monday, July 2, 2018

French Alpine Snow Shovel, circa 1950's - 1960's, Le Grand Tetras, Bellegrarde AIN, France, Aluminum

While rummaging through the bunker, I ran across this old French alpine snow shovel that I picked up last year.  I haven't shown it on the blog, so here it goes.

This shovel is an early, post-WW2 shovel that was made for civilian use.  It was manufactured by the Raul Pautry Aluminum Household Goods factory in Bellegarde, France.  It was most likely made in the 1950's, or 1960's.

After WW2, civilian camping started to catch on in France and a number of manufacturers started making camping gear for the masses.  Aluminum was all the rage and was promoted as the best, and most modern material for camp gear.  The Raul Pautry company was one of the biggest manufacturers of aluminum camp gear.  They marketed their gear under the brand name of Le Grande Tetras.  The majority of the gear they produced was aluminum canteens and cookware, however it appears they also made a line of Alpine shovels.

Photo from a 1950's Le Grande Tetras catalog.

The Raul Paultry factory was located in Bellegarde, Ain, France, which is right on the border of Switzerland. (Ain is the equivalent of a county in France).  I believe the full, and official, name of the town is Bellegarde-sur-Valserine.  

Most of the early,  post-war, aluminum camping gear that was made in France, was basically copied from existing military gear from the 1930's and 1940's.  This shovel appears to be based on a Swiss military shovel that was produced during WW2.  You can read about the Swiss version on my blog page here:

Swiss Military Alpine Shovel dated 1939
This French version is slightly longer and slightly larger than the Swiss WW2 shovel, but is essentially the same.

The wooden handle is inserted into the blade shank socket, and a sliding tube is then slide over the spit shank to clamp the handle in place.  The tube is removable, but it is not a comfortable, or easy thing to do.  On the Swiss version, the handle is very easily removed by sliding the clamping tube.  I am not sure if this difference is a poor design element on the French shovel, or if the handle was not meant to be easily removable.

There do not appear to many of these Le Grand Tetras shovels around, so I would imagine that they were not very popular, or very few were produced.  No matter though, it has found a home with the other shovels in the bunker!

3/30/2019 Update:  A blog viewer posted a link in the coments section, to a YouTube video that shows a similar shovel that was found in an abandoned camp up on Mount Everest.  It's a very interesting clip.  You can see the shovel at 1:19 and 2:07 minutes into the video.  Here's the link: 

Let's take a closer look at the shovel.