In 1897, Joseph Opinel released a pocket knife in 12 different sizes. In 1909 the Crowned Hand emblem was added to the blade. For The Alpine International Exhibition in 1911, Joseph expanded the range to include kitchen and garden knives.

With the assistance of his sons, Maurice and Leon, Joseph continued to develop the Opinel brand. Then in 1955 Marcel, the son of Maurice, invented the Virobloc system to improve the safety of the knife.  Before 1955 the pocket knife included 4 components: the blade, the handle, the shell ring and the rivet. The shell ring was needed to firmly rivet the blade to the handle. The Virobloc system introduced a rotating lock that slides on the shell ring, locking the blade in the open position. In the 1990’s the Virobloc system was modified so the blade could be locked in the closed position.

The pocket knife with its Virobloc system is a design icon. So much so it’s included in the “Phaidon Design Classics” which recognised the Opinel pocket knife as 1 of 999 most successful designs.

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