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Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Gentleman's Knife Review No. 3 : Camarguais Knife - Great Regional French Knife

The Camargue is a region in Southern France on the Mediterranean coast famous for the huge Camargue river delta, for it's raising of black bulls, it's white Camargue horses and the cowboys who ride them And more recently it's knife making as well.  The Camarguais Knife knife company or Coutellerie Le Camarguais as it is know was founded in 1993 as a family business making wonderfully handmade knives that have quickly become very sought after among knife collectors worldwide.  

Featured prominently on its bolsters is the Camargue cross and on its spring back.the trident.
CAMARGUE CROSS is an emblem formed with a Latin cross whose upper ends represent a three-pronged fork or “trident” (a working tool used by “guardians” or cowboys) and whose lower end is a sea anchor topped by a heart. The Camargue Cross stands for the three cardinal virtues:
Cross of tridents for F A I T H,  Anchor for H O P E, and Heart for L O V E. 

The Trident is a tool used by the cowboys of the Camargue to control the bulls in a herd.  These are NOT the fish spearing tridents as wielded by Atlantis of popular imagination, but the much less aggressive versions used to prod the bulls:

In addition to the 'Trident' on the back lock (this is not a spring knife, but a locking spring), also features beautifully accomplished file work or chiseled work 'Guillochiert' here and along the back of the blade as well and even along the edges of the liners.  All this work being done by hand meaning no two knives are exactly alike.   

The handle scales of my knife are made from Olive wood, which I really love for its durability and beautiful wood grain pattern.  My knife is the model No. 12 - the blade is made from 12C27, a high-quality stainless steel from Sweden, which is often used by traditional knifemakers for its toughness, edge holding, and easy sharpening ability.   The overall knife length is 22cm and the blade length is 10.5cm.  There is also a model No. 10 available with the identical design but with a smaller overall length of 19.5cm and with a blade length of 9cm.  Both models are available with a number of blade option including a less decorated standard model and blades with various Damascus steel patterning and of course with a myriad of different handle material options including various woods, horn materials, antler and Mammoth Ivory.  I have been very happy with the quality and overall performance of my Olive handled Camarguais Knife.  Although, if I were to purchase this knife again, I think I would go for the model No. 10, for its more compact, easier to pocket size.  

Incedently I was inspired to purchase this knife my knife journalist Stefan Schmalhaus who's done a wonderful review of this knife on his YouTube channel.  If you like knives, I can highly recommend his channel as being extremely well made, entertaining and informative.  Beware, though, you'll be wanting to add to your knife collection, so hold on to your wallets.  I will say in mitigation that many of the French and Italian regional knives that Stefan reviews are not too expensive, so one can typically buy these handmade knives from just under 100 Euros for standard production models.  However, If you have a propensity of Damascus Steel blades and Mammoth handles, prices can mount quickly;-)

As you can see it's just about the same size as this Le Thiers knife by Chambriard with a 9.5cm blade:

I've made a pocket sheath for my knife form our 'Dirty Denim' African Goat leather from the Dangerous9straps Safari Leather Collection featuring Classic Tan Eel skin lining and hand saddle stitched using ecru French milled linen thread, which I think looks great with this olive wood of this knife.  

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