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To Bee or Not to Bee: The Marks of a Genuine Forge de Laguiole Folding Pocket Knife

There's a lot of speculation on the meaning of the "bee" (or is it a fly?) on the handle of a Laguiole folding pocket knife, but more important are the top charteristics that distinguish a genuine Forge de Laguiole folding pocket knife (the ONLY kind we sell at The Proper Moose) from an imitation. Read on to see what the bee (and other distinguishing characteristics) tell you about the knife you're considering purchasing if you want the "genuine article."

Laguiole is not a company. Rather, it is the name of a small village in the Aveyron region of France, a village that also gives its name to a traditional style of knife.  Unfortunately, because the name was never patented or trademarked, any company can use the name "Laguiole" on its cutlery, even if it is made outside of France (e.g., China) or mass-produced with inferior parts.

There are only two manufacturers who produce hand-made Laguiole knives for export in the village of Laguiole, the most notable being Les Forge de Laguiole. Genuine Forge de Laguiole folding pocket knives and corkscrews (sommeliers) are the only kind sold by The Proper Moose and can be distinguished from their inferior "competitors" by the following characteristics:

1. The country of origin (France) must be engraved on the blade just above the upper tip of the handle. The registered brand and trademark of the manufacturer (the Forge de Laguiole logo with the large "L" over the logo) engraved on the blade guarantees its place of origin. Ideally the signature of the artisan and/or the type of steel used will also be found on the blade.FDL_Knife_Engraving.jpg

2.  There should be no sign of any sideways shift (lateral play) in the plane of the blade. It should open easily and be perpendicular to the spring.

3.  Genuine, traditional Laguiole knives don't lock. This is because they contain an extremely powerful and complex system of springs built into the back of the knife, which gives the benefit of a locked blade when open and the ability to close the blade without unlocking.

4.  The knife should open and close with a nice "click" which indicates that the spring mechanism has been finely calibrated.

5.  In traditional Laguiole practice, the entire knife is made by hand by one artisan, not mass-produced by many different craftsmen. It takes more than 100 separate steps for one artisan to complete a single genuine Laguiole knife!

6.  On Laguiole knives of 9 cm. or larger, the spring (the long piece of metal that runs down the back of the handle) will be hand-carved or chiseled, not stamped or cast, with a design unique to the artisan who made it.

7.  A true traditional Laguiole knife of 9 cm. or larger has six small brass rivets in the handle in the shape of a "Shepherd's Cross".  No cross, its' not a genuine Laguiole knife.129_Briar_Wood_closed.jpg8.  Finally, what about the bee?

A genuine Laguiole knife will have an engraved or hand-chiseled bee (or possibly it's a fly) forged as part of the metal spring on the blade end of the handle. If the bee/fly looks like a separate piece that's been soldered on, it's not a true Laguiole.


So if you'relooking for a true Forge de Laguiole folding pocket knife or corkscrew that will give you years of function and pleasure, and be something you'll be proud to pass on to your heirs, check out The Proper Moose Forge de Laguiole collection!


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