The Knives of Solingen, Germany (The City Of Knives History)

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Solingen, Germany, a historic city renowned for its blade-making prowess, has been home to some of the world’s most respected knife companies for centuries. One of the most notable knife manufacturers with origins in Solingen is Zwilling J.A. Henckels, a company that dates back to 1731, making it one of the oldest operating companies globally. Their impressive legacy directly correlates to their commitment to creating kitchen knives and other cutting instruments of unmatched quality for both domestic and professional use.

The rise of Solingen knife makers can be attributed to the 14th century when blacksmiths and craftsmen began crafting blades of unparalleled quality, aided by an abundance of natural resources, skilled artisans, and strict quality control. By the 16th century, both swordsmiths and scissor makers contributed to the thriving blade industry, earning the city its well-deserved title “The City of Blades.” Throughout the centuries, the prestigious Solingen name has been synonymous with excellence, bringing worldwide recognition to the German city.

The rich history of Solingen’s knife companies, such as Zwilling J.A. Henckels, has led to a thriving market for vintage Solingen knives. These collectible pieces showcase the remarkable craftsmanship and attention to detail that the region is known for, making them highly sought after items for collectors and culinary enthusiasts alike. These timeless knives not only serve as practical tools but also as a testament to the enduring legacy of Solingen’s fine blade-making heritage.

Brief History of Solingen Knife Company

Origin of Solingen and the City of Blades

Solingen, a small town in Germany, has been famous for its high-quality knives, scissors, and cutlery since the Middle Ages. The town’s exceptional craftsmanship and the premium materials used in the manufacturing process have earned it the reputation of the “City of Blades”. This tradition began in the 16th century when swordsmiths and knife makers dominated the local economy. The first known bladesmith in Solingen was Peter Henckels, who founded the Zwilling J. A. Henckels company on June 13, 1731.

Cologne and the German Cutlery Industry

As the German cutlery industry grew, Solingen expanded its influence and started to collaborate with nearby cities like Cologne. There was frequent exchange of skills, materials, and workers between the cities. During the 19th century, the blades manufacturing industry continued to thrive in Solingen, and the town earned a reputation for producing high-quality cutlery, scissors, and other blades. The First World War interrupted the growth of the industry, however, as demand for high-quality cutlery decreased.

Important Milestones in Solingen’s History

Some key milestones in the history of Solingen knife manufacturing include:

  • 1731: Peter Henckels established the Zwilling J. A. Henckels company, one of the earliest trademarked companies in the cutlery industry.
  • 1771: Johann Abraham Henckels, the company’s namesake, was born, ensuring the legacy of the company would continue for generations.
  • 1983: Franz D. Güde continued the tradition of handcrafted knives in Solingen, despite the rise of automation and rationalized work processes in manufacturing. Güde maintained the highest quality standards by producing special knives through the ages.

Overall, Solingen’s rich history in the knife and blade industry has persisted throughout the centuries, helping establish the town as a renowned center for high-quality craftsmanship and blades.

Famous Solingen Knife Brands

In this section, we will explore some of the most renowned knife brands from Solingen, Germany. These brands include J.A. Henckels, Puma, Güde, and Eickhorn Solingen.

J.A. Henckels

J.A. Henckels, founded in 1731 by Johann Abraham Henckels, is a prestigious knife manufacturer with a long history in Solingen. The company is known for producing high-quality cutlery, kitchenware, and other tools. Their knives are appreciated for their excellent durability and craftsmanship. With centuries of experience, J.A. Henckels has refined its processes and uses a combination of modern technology and traditional techniques to produce exceptional quality blades.


Puma WAIDBLATT 3588 Pre-’64

Puma is another prominent knife brand from Solingen, established in 1769. The company is well-known for producing top-quality hunting, tactical, and outdoor knives. Their commitment to quality and innovation has made Puma a beloved brand among knife enthusiasts and professionals alike. The company’s product range includes folding knives, fixed blade knives, as well as knife accessories, all characterized by their outstanding performance and reliability.


Güde is a renowned Solingen knife brand with a history dating back to 1910. The company is committed to producing handcrafted knives, with each piece going through over 40 manual processes to ensure the highest quality. Güde’s knives are distinguished by their exceptional sharpness, durability, and balance. They offer a range of cutlery options, including chef’s knives, carving knives, and bread knives, making them a popular choice for professional chefs and home cooks alike.

Eickhorn Solingen

Borkott & EICKHORN Solingen German Military

Eickhorn Solingen is a reputable knife brand known for its high-quality military, utility, and rescue knives. Established in 1865, the company has a rich history in producing blades for the German military and international markets. Eickhorn Solingen takes pride in using advanced materials and state-of-the-art production methods to manufacture its products. The brand is widely respected for its innovative designs, exceptional quality, and commitment to providing reliable tools for professionals worldwide.

Types and Characteristics of Vintage Solingen Knives

Blade Types and Materials

Vintage Solingen knives are renowned for their exceptional craftsmanship and use of high-quality materials. Many of these knives feature blades made from carbon steel, which is known for its durability, sharpness, and ease of sharpening. Some of the common blade types found in Solingen knives include:

  • Clip point: A versatile and popular blade design with a concave spine that tapers to a fine point.
  • Drop point: A strong and easily controllable blade with a convex spine that tapers to a wide, sharp point.
  • Straightback: A robust blade with a straight spine and a wide, cutting edge, ideal for slicing and chopping.

Handle Materials and Construction

The handles of vintage Solingen knives are typically made from various materials, each with its unique characteristics and aesthetic appeal. Some common handle materials include:

  • Bone: A traditional and visually appealing material that offers a natural grip and unique appearance.
  • Stag: Sourced from deer antlers, stag handles have a distinct texture and organic shape that provide excellent grip and durability.
  • Wood: Classic and timeless, wood handles come in various types, such as walnut, rosewood, and oak, each with its unique color and grain patterns.
  • Plastic: Durable and lightweight, plastic handles are often found in more affordable Solingen knives but still offer quality performance.

Tang Types and Makers Marks

The tang, the portion of the knife blade that extends into the handle, plays a crucial role in a knife’s overall strength and balance. Vintage Solingen knives mainly feature rat-tail tangs and full tangs. A rat-tail tang narrows significantly as it extends into the handle, while a full tang maintains the blade’s width throughout the handle, giving the knife superior strength and balance.

Makers marks are essential for identifying and authenticating vintage Solingen knives. These marks typically appear on the blade, bolster, or tang and can include logos, patterns, or engraved names. To identify Solingen knife makers marks, you can carefully inspect the knife for any engravings or stamps and compare them to known examples. Remember that you may need strong light or a magnifying glass to see some of the smaller marks clearly.

Vintage Solingen Knives in Various Applications

Kitchen Knives

Vintage Solingen kitchen knives are well-known for their quality and durability. One prominent Solingen knife maker is Wüsthof, established in 1814. Their knives generally feature the Wüsthof trident logo, along with the words “Solingen” and “Germany”. These knives were considered luxurious and were highly sought after by professional chefs and households alike.

Hunting Knives

Solingen is also known for producing high-quality hunting knives. Examples of these vintage hunting knives can be found in collectibles like Sheriff Knife, a vintage fixed blade hunting knife with a sheath. These knives were crafted with precision and were built to withstand the test of time, making them highly valued by collectors and hunters today.


In the 16th century, swordsmiths were among the first craftsmen to arrive in Solingen, laying the foundation for the town’s reputation as the “City of Blades”. These swordsmiths and their successors crafted exceptional swords for military and ceremonial purposes. Although the production of swords slowed down with the advent of the First World War, vintage Solingen swords still hold a significant place in history and are prized by collectors.

Straight Razors

Straight razors were another popular blade crafted in Solingen. Renowned for their sharpness and quality, these razors became a staple in barber shops and households. Manufacturers such as Eickhorn Solingen, founded in 1865, also contributed to the production of high-quality straight razors, gaining a reputation for their craftsmanship 4.

As demonstrated, vintage Solingen knives were utilized in various applications like kitchen knives, hunting knives, swords, and straight razors. The pride of craftsmanship behind each blade showcases the importance of Solingen in the history of blades.

Significance of Vintage Solingen Knives

Worldwide Reputation and Demand

Solingen, a city in western Germany, has been synonymous with high-quality blades for centuries. Known as the City of Blades, it began attracting skilled blacksmiths and craftsmen in the 14th century. The combination of abundant natural resources, talented artisans, and strict quality control solidified Solingen’s status as a hub of blade production. Vintage Solingen knives, therefore, carry a worldwide reputation for quality and craftsmanship.

German knives like those from Solingen are appreciated for their superb engineering, attention to detail, and durability. particularly, vintage Solingen knives hold a certain nostalgia among collectors and knife enthusiasts around the globe, increasing their demand.

Pricing and Collectible Value

The pricing and collectible value of vintage Solingen knives vary depending on factors such as brand, condition, and rarity. Renowned Solingen knife makers, such as Zwilling J. A. Henckels, often made knives that have become highly sought after in the collector’s market.

As a general guideline, vintage Solingen knives in excellent condition command higher prices, whereas those with signs of wear or damage may be more affordable. Additionally, limited edition or rare models may hold a higher collectible value.

It’s important to note that the value of a vintage Solingen knife may change over time, based on market trends and consumer demand. Buyers and collectors should regularly monitor the market for updates on prices and values.

Identifying Genuine Vintage Solingen Knives

When looking for genuine vintage Solingen knives, it is essential to familiarize oneself with the various Solingen knife makers’ marks and logos. The identification of Solingen Germany knife makers marks can help ascertain the authenticity and age of a knife.

Other indicators of genuine vintage Solingen knives include the words “Made in Solingen” or “Solingen, Germany” stamped or engraved on the blade. Additionally, the overall quality and materials used in the knife’s construction can offer clues to its origin and authenticity.

It is crucial to perform thorough research, consult with experts or reputable dealers, and assess factors such as condition, materials, and craftsmanship to ensure the purchase of a genuine vintage Solingen knife.


In conclusion, Solingen, Germany, has a rich history in the blade-making industry dating back to the 14th century. The town’s exceptional craftsmanship and use of premium materials have earned it the reputation of the “City of Blades.” Solingen knife makers, such as Zwilling J.A. Henckels and Puma, have established themselves as renowned brands with a long history of producing high-quality blades. Vintage Solingen knives are highly sought after by collectors and culinary enthusiasts worldwide, showcasing the enduring legacy of Solingen’s fine blade-making heritage. The pride of craftsmanship behind each blade is a testament to the importance of Solingen in the history of blades.

When you visit a merchant by clicking a link on this site we may make a commission on anything you buy (at no additional cost to you).   Affiliate programs and affiliations include, but are not limited to Amazon Associates and the eBay Partner Network.”