19th Century French Pradel Folding Knife


1 in stock


This is a French Pradel Folding Knife, made sometime 1860-1890, I believe. The history of Pradel knives is set between 1850 and 1960. If you’ve researched the history of French folding knives, you know that the French have been known for their top tier folding knives since the 17th century.

The company was owned by 4 successive generations of Pradel. Etienne Pradel created the first “Pradel”, closely based on a single blade type from Sheffield. It was somewhat a revolution: First, the way the knife was built allowed a quick adjustment after assembling, not before like the rest of the production at the time. The cutting of the scales was also very accurate, with always the same thickness: Therefore all knives were strictly identical and perfectly adjusted.

Second, the “notch” (we call it “chin”) on the blade protruded significantly, allowing a sharp closing snap without damage to the edge (unlike the laguioles). People would recognise the knife just by the noise it made when it snap shut, and would comment “C’est un Pradel!”. The image was that of a strong, quality knife. Made in Thiers, it was mainly sold in Brittany and Normandy to both farmers and fishermen (hence the stamp). In 1862 E. Pradel stamped his blades with an anchor. Evidently the Pradel was such a renowned knife that dozens of other companies made similar knives and adopted stamps that looked confusingly like the Pradel anchor.

This knife has been well used. There’s a little wear on the blade from sharpening over the years. There’s some damage to the scales on the backside of the knife. But overall its action works fine and is still tight.