A Brief History Of SAKs

I put this post together from information I gathered from http://www.wengermart.ru/, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victorinox and other sources to enlighten my friends, who aren’t huge SAK fans like the rest of us, about the “little red toolboxes” we love. Hopefully if you’re already a SAK fan you still might pick up a little information you didn’t know. -Tank


There are only two brands that can rightfully be called a “Swiss Army Knife” – Victorinox and Wenger, and now there is only one company, Victorinox, after more than 100 years of competition between the two firms.


Over a hundred years ago, these two brands, Victorinox – in 1891 and Wenger (at that time the company was called Paul Boechat & Cie) – since 1893 have the right to sell its products to the Swiss Army. Two suppliers were chosen for reasons of competition between the purchase price, the orders are distributed in a ratio of 50 to 50, which was a politically correct decision. Fun fact: by mutual agreement Wenger was advertised as “Authentic (genuine) Swiss Army Knife” and Victorinox has used the slogan “The original (original) Swiss Army knife.”At the end of 19th century the Swiss army started using the rifle, which had to be regularly disassembled for cleaning, you could do it with a screwdriver. At the same time, the Army began to include canned rations, and military commanders decided that a soldier required a can opener. From this need came an offer from the Swiss cutlery guild merchants, led by the firm’s founder, Karl Elzener. The price was cheaper than the German suppliers, and military gladly accepted the offer.Over time, Elzener gained experience and learned much making the knives in Germany, before opening his own business after working for 8 years in the factory.The first Army soldier’s knife was very simple, it had a black handle, one large blade, can opener, awl and a screwdriver


Then a more elegant army officer’s model appeared where there was a second small blade and a corkscrew. On June 12, 1897 the design was officially registered, this date could be considered the birthday of the Swiss Army knife. The design of this model was the ancestor of all army knives that are available today.


Their famous emblem—a cross in a shield—has been used by Victorinox since 1909. That year, the mother of founder Karl Elsener died and he named the company “Victoria” in her honour. In 1921, with the introduction of “inox” (the French term for stainless steel is acier inoxydable) into their products, the brand and name of the company became the present “Victorinox” (“Victoria”+”Inox”)Global popularity of the Swiss Army knives exploded after World War II, U.S. Army soldiers eagerly bought them and took them home.


It was difficult to say “Offiziersmesser”, so they said “Swiss Army Knife”, and this name is now known throughout the world.


Over time, the knives were extended with different tools to increase their usefulness. Here are some of them:

1. Knife (conventional blade)2. Awl

3. Opener

4. Screwdriver (large)

5. Knife (small blade)

6. Corkscrew

7. Wood saw

8. Scissors

9. Bottle Opener

10. Screwdriver (small)

11. Nailfile

12. Toothpick

13. Tweezers (forceps)

14. Saw for metal

15. Metal file

16. Knife for cleaning fish

17. Parcel hook

18. Ruler

19. Screwdriver Philips (cross-head screwdriver)

20. Key-ring

21. Magnifying glass

That’s the more popular tools, as of today there’s a 100+ available in different combinations.

On 26 April 2005 Victorinox acquired Wenger, the other official supplier of the Swiss Army knife, announcing that it intended to keep both brands intact. On 30 January 2013 Victorinox announced that the company will integrate Wenger’s knife business to strengthen its competitive position internationally. With Victorinox absorbing Wenger the Wenger brand is no longer being produced. This is making the collector community speculate if Wenger knives will rise in value due to them no longer being made.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: