History of Pocket Knives

History of Pocket Knives, Shieldon

The pocket knife is one of the handiest and versatile knives you will ever come across. They are small, portable, and don’t require an additional sheath for storage, you simply fold them up and you are food to go. Some are small enough to be folded into the arm and this is why they are regarded as concealed weapons in most places.

But where did pocket knives begin?

We are going to explore the history of pocket knives, look at how they began, the inspiration behind them, and how they have evolved over time. If you have always been curious to know how pocket knives came into existence, then stick around to the end.

Early Pocket Knives

History of Pocket Knives, Shieldon

According to archaeological finds over the years, the earliest form of pocket knife dates back to 600 BC in Austria. It was made using a bone handle and had a single blade that could retract into a groove made inside the bone. This is proof that early people had already started experimenting with various forms of making knives.

Whether this was born out of the need to create something portable and easy to use or another aesthetically inspired is yet to be known. The fact however remains that pocket knives are not a recent invention.

The next group of people that got hold of pocket knives were the Romanas. Having conquered the whole of Europe, it doesn’t come as a surprise that something as ingenious as a pocket knife would be used during that era. The many cultures that were subjected to Roman rule may have contributed to these findings.

The early pocket knives had no efficient method of keeping the blade sheathed in the handles, they relied on friction and this caused a lot of trouble when it came to opening and closing. This is what later inspired the inclusion of locks and springs that are found in most of modern pocket knives.

The game changed when the Swiss got their hands in the pocket knife blueprints in the year 200. They came up with the Swiss army knife, one of the most revolutionary tools known to the modern world today. The early version came equipped with a spoon, spatula, fork, and spike.

The 17th Century

History of Pocket Knives, Shieldon

Things picked up the pace pretty quickly once the 17th century came knocking. The advancements in manufacturing capabilities made it possible for mass production of knives to become possible and this led to an explosion of pocket knife designs.

The most notable step was the invention of the Gully knife which was designed with a wooden pistol grip. This later evolved into the famous pen knife that was not only durable and affordable but one of the most bought knife types in history. Farmers and laborers bought it in large numbers as it was handy for some of their work and could be safely stored away in their pockets without any issue. That’s how the knife came to be known as the peasant knife.

Once the slip joint knife was invented in the middle of the 17th century, the knife was flipped right on its head. It was one of the biggest events as the slip joint knife was a groundbreaking invention. For the first time, a pocket knife with a spring that allowed the blade to stay open once the lock was put in place.

This allowed for so many applications to be created and soon, all barbershops in the developed urban centers were using the slip joint blades as the preferred tool of their trade. But so did the murderers, unfortunately. The slip joint knife went on to evolve into sunfish, camper, whittler, and so many other variations that are being used to this day.

Improvements in the 18th and 19th Centuries

History of Pocket Knives, Shieldon

As knives became more popular, more inventions started coming out of the woodwork. Every part of the world was coming up with never seen designs that further made pocket knives more diverse.

One of the most notable inventions was the butterfly knife that is believed to have been invented in the Philippines. It had two handles that could be flipped around to expose a very fine blade in the middle. The blade went on to become a pop culture icon that was used in karate movies.

The switchblade was another product of the later centuries that caused waves in the knife world. For the first time, a pocket knife made use of a blade that was controlled by a spring that was used to release the blade with a snap once pushed. This was the precursor of the famous Italian blade called the Stiletto that was also popularized in movies after the second world war.

This was also the era where the Swiss blade also received major developments that improved on what had been invented some years back. It now features more blades and multitools that could be used for just about anything imaginable.

The Future of Pocket Knives

History of Pocket Knives, Shieldon

There’s nothing that is evolving faster than pocket knives. They are now being made using all kinds of materials that are stronger, durable, and better looking. Carbon steel for example has become a very popular choice among knife enthusiasts.

Another standout feature of modern pocket knives is the inclusion of art and beautiful patterns in the handle design. This has further pushed their popularity to another level. In the near future, we will start seeing blades that are almost indestructible. They will be easier to operate and very tactical in nature.


Pocket knives continue to surge in popularity and anyone starting out as a knife enthusiast is most likely to be introduced to pocket knives first. There are countless types of pocket knives that exist in all corners of the world, all within your reach if you know where to look. For more information, check out our website(Shieldon- pocket knife manufacturer) to see where and how to get them.


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