French cutlery History
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perm_identityby Kévin Saint-Joanis

French cutlery History

Cutlery in France, the story of a long tradition.

The first tool born by the hand of man more than 2 million years ago, flint is certainly the object which has contributed the most to the prodigious development of Humanity.

The discovery of new materials will allow humans to improve the efficiency and use of this tool. From flint to bronze then to steel, the materials used evolve at the same time as major technological advances.

The knife, an essential tool for man, was fashioned all over the planet, empirically or by hand, this utensil was originally made by the blacksmith, the blacksmith or the blacksmith, specialists in metalworking.

It was not until the 9th century that craftsmen specializing in the manufacture of cutting knives appeared, known as cutlers.

The 10th century saw the emergence of the manufacture of dedicated table knives.

Rather rustic and archaic, productions from the 14th century will be magnified by the use of noble materials for the handles and ferrules (precious wood, silver, gold, enamel ...).

In the 15th and 16th centuries, numerous cutlery basins and cutlery towns appeared throughout the territory (Beauvais, Périgueux, Toulouse, Langres, Paris, Thiers, Châtellerault, Moulins, Saint-Etienne, etc.)

At the same time as its development, the profession is organized into jurande (charter or regulations governing ethics, production, brands and territories)

From the 17th century, thanks to the development of the use of table cutlery in all households and the production of razors, scissors and knives specific to food and agriculture, towns and cutlery basins were modernized. and get bigger.

The 19th century allowed cutlery produced in France to shine throughout the world thanks to the diversity of its items, the importance of its production capacities and the quality of its products.

But also and above all thanks to the repeal of the jurandes, deemed too corporatist, by the Le Chapelier law in 1890, which authorizes access to all to the cutlery trades.

The beginning of the 20th century, battered by wars, saw the disappearance of most of the cutlery basins.

Only the basins of Nogent and Thiers and a few cutlery towns still remain in the middle of this century.

Modernization, internationalization and technical progress linked to new technologies allow a new development of French cutlery. The emergence of many artisans and fine cutlery makers has seen the development of new universes and new perspectives to continue to write the history of cutlery.

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