Cutler’s workshops, apprentices and the traditional skill of knifemaking in Switzerland
In an age where industrialization had yet to take hold and knives were still made by hand in small scale water-powered forges, Karl Elsener had the vision to set up an association which would link cutlers from across Switzerland. In 1891, his vision became a reality when he and around 30 other cutlers joined forces to create the Swiss Master Cutlers Association.
More than just a platform for knowledge-sharing within the craft, this union enabled the production of Swiss Army Soldiers Knives to be carried out in Switzerland itself. Prior to the foundation of the association, the many independent Swiss forges simply couldn’t compete with the steam-powered knife industry in Germany. But collectively, they were able to produce enough knives to meet the needs of the Swiss Army, taking over the contract from the manufacturers in Solingen.