At Hand-Eye Supply we love a good pocket knife, and we're always looking out for another one that will tickle our fancy. It's definitely a bonus when it has a compelling story to it as well.
Historically, Sheffield has been the center of Steel and Cutlery in the UK for more than 700 years—in fact, the term 'Cutler' was first used on Sheffield tax return in 1297. The IXL British Army Knife has its roots in the 19th-Century military knives that had evolved from 'workman' knives that were used by coachman and tradesmen.
The marlin spike featured on these knives was an invaluable tool for the mariners who would use them to tie specialized functional knots for nautical purposes.
The rounded-off tip of the blade also reflects the mariner history, albeit a slightly grimmer side of it. This can also be seen in the Anchor knife we carry at Hand-Eye Supply. Sea conditions were often terse with many of the sailors being indentured, 'Shanghai'd' or enslaved. A stab wound was almost certainly a death sentence at sea. The rounded blade prevented stabbings.
The tin opener showed up in the late 1800s, allowing soldiers in the field to open their canned food rations.
During WWI and WWII, Joseph Rodgers was the primary manufacturer of these knives, but the torch is now carried on by Egginton group, originally Egginton Bros. Ltd., formed in 1872, who have sought to preserve the once ailing Sheffield cutlery industry.
The British Army Knife offers a 2.25-inch sheepsfoot blade, can opener, forged marlin spike, and built-in flathead screwdriver. At four inches long and a slim quarter inch wide, it is very pocket-friendly but not misplaceably small.
More images after the jump...