Winner of the 2012 Midwest Independent Publishers Association Awards for “Coffee Table Book” and “Interior Layout”
Art of the Switchblade is a full-color hardbound book which features 160 pages of premier switchblades from five countries. No previous book has included switchblades from England, France, Germany, Italy, and the United States along with accompanying ephemera and comprehensive information. All examples shown are from the pre-WWII era and many are from the 1800s.
It is only through the contributions from several collections and historians from around the world that this grand book project came to be. Art of the Switchblade will inform and delight not just switchblade collectors, but all knife enthusiasts.
Reviewed by Knife World Staff
Despite their ever-present popularity, for many years vintage automatic knives were sorely neglected by collectors guidebooks in favor of all other manner of knives. That has changed dramatically within the past decade or so with the release of several titles. One of the best is Switchblades of Italy, a well researched, well written, and beautifully illustrated study of the Italian switchblade from its origins to the present day. Now, two of those who collaborated on that book – Neal Punchard and Dan Fuller – have created a brand new title with the goal of sharing the world’s finest antique switchblades with everyone who enjoys them.
Art of the Switchblade focuses entirely on vintage automatic knives dating from the 1830s up to World War II, and produced by the the five major countries that manufactured these knives: England, France, Germany, Italy, and America. The book opens with a brief introduction explaining the origin and development of the switchblade knife, from the first spring bayonets on firearms through the legacy of George Schrade, that does a wonderful job of putting everything into perspective – easily the best summary of switchblade history that I’ve read.
Following that, the book is divided into chapters for each of the five major switchblade producing countries. Each featured knife is a superb specimen, usually of a type rarely seen, and is beautifully illustrated on its own full color page. An accompanying page, or two or three, describes the knife in detail, the history of the firm that made it, etc., often with illustrations of related ephemera such as catalog pages and advertisements. Additionally, the chapter on French switchblades opens with an excellent introduction to the subject, and the Italian section is divided into subchapters which describe the history of automatic knives from that country’s three main cutlery producing cities, Maniago, Frosolone, and Scarperia.
In total, I count 79 of the world’s finest antique switchblades including some of the best early examples known, switchblade bowie knives, three switchblade knife pistols, several multiblades, and some gorgeous examples handled in carved ivory and pearl. The American knives aren’t neglected either, with all three types of Ka-Bar Grizzlies, both styles of the Case Zipper, and a variety of other rare and attractive examples. And while the knives themselves are the main draw, the supporting text is every bit as worthy. Art of the Switchblade is sure to please all vintage switchblade buffs, and everyone else who appreciates the very best in antique knives.
Hardcover, full color, 160 pp.