Le Thiers ® knife

History of a cutlery town

More than a city, Thiers is a cutlery basin. All the professions around the cutlery are represented there: cutlers, blacksmiths, subcontractors, suppliers of raw materials... And for good reason, perched on its promontory and encircled by a powerful torrent, the Durolle, Thiers has certain predispositions! The power of the torrent is no longer to be proven, it allowed to turn the millstones, the polishers and all other machines with mechanical functioning. Like those in connection with the sandstone quarries located at medium distance. Moreover, the peasants of the surrounding countryside and mountains constituted a workforce of choice. The income from cutlery was a little extra for them on top of the meager income from subsistence farming, especially during the bad season.

Image from the book Couteaux de France, Histoire des couteaux régionaux - Christian Lemasson

The town of Thiers has been shaped by cutlery for centuries. It was around 1875 that the town became nationally known for its home production of popular clasp knives. This type of knife represented half of the production. In 1880, the cutlery industry was the main employer of a cheap but skilled workforce (16,000 hands for an average of 500 manufacturers).

The people of Thiers nicknamed their work in the cutlery industry "crumbling work", because each worker was assigned to a very specific and specialized task. This system was the key to low cost, adaptable and flexible production. Indeed, as each peasant-worker performed the same repetitive task (to the point of specializing in a single type of blade, for example), they became particularly fast. Unlike the peasants, the grinders were truly independent, even if they did not own their own place in the wheel. They sat on a simple wooden board above the grinding wheel, with only the warmth of their little dogs lying on their legs. This image is one of the most famous of the trade! But don't worry, this era is over.

Image from the book Couteaux de France, Histoire des couteaux régionaux - Christian Lemasson

The first string rammers were used for stamping and straightening small parts.

The manual production allowed the manufacture and the sale of a very broad range, without constituting an important investment in term of specific tooling. The city's niche was to work to the customer's brand and model. Thiers conquered the domestic market by supplying the territory with "country items", at a time when everyone had a knife in his pocket.

However, the arrival of machinery in the 19th century led to production being the preserve of the large companies only. Indeed, not everyone could afford the investment required to purchase the tools and dies necessary for the mass production of table, kitchen or professional knives. However, the closing knife remains a safe bet for small businesses. Home and hand production even continued into the 1930s.

Strolling through the cobbled streets lined with half-timbered houses, one notices that most of them are equipped with a cutlery workshop. Even if many of them are not occupied nowadays, they remain the guarantors of this very rich cutlery history.  


Vue de la vallée des usines à Thiers

Photographer © Dominique Baîs

The birth of the Le Thiers® knife

The cutlers of Thiers have always made regional knives for others (Laguiole, Normand, Aurillac, Issoire...). But to add insult to injury, the city of Thiers did not even have its own knife.
In 1993, the Le Thiers® knife brotherhood (La confrérie du couteau Le Thiers®) was created and in 1994, the Le Thiers® knife was launched.

Assemblage d'un Thiers à l'atelier

The model is registered at the INPI (National Institute of Industrial Property), by the Brotherhood of the Knife of Thiers in July 1994. This association brings together knife enthusiasts, both professionals and amateurs. It works mainly to maintain a high level of quality in the manufacture of knives as evidenced by the "Jurande" signed by all professional members.
This knife is intended to be produced by each craftsman, respecting the specifications written by the brotherhood.
There are different categories of Le Thiers® knife: folding knife, kitchen knife and table knife.

Le Thiers® by Fontenille Pataud

We participate in the collective history of an entire profession by offering you different types and sizes of Le Thiers® knives.
Unlike most of the Le Thiers® knives on the market, all our models are equipped with a blade locking system in order to provide you with comfort and safety during their use. Central or rear pump, Liner-lock, you choose your mechanism. And no need to worry about the folding knife closing, because thanks to its fixed blade stop, your knife will keep its sharpness!
The Thiers® by Fontenille Pataud is available in different types of wood, horns or synthetic materials like carbon fiber or Micarta for example.

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Fontenille Pataud was founded in 1929 and quickly became recognized as a manufacturer of high-end knives.