It was 1829 when a modest peasant knife was born in Laguiole, small mountain village in Aveyron (southwestern France). Its renowned bee, a symbol of prestige and quality adorning its spring, made it the most famous knife in France.
Cutlery in Espalion is quite an old activity as there were already 2 cutlers in the 17th century. The knife production matched the needs of local people: straight knives also called “capujadou”, scissors to mark cattle, bread slicer, pruning knives and wine grower tools, hatchets for forestage. At the end of the 17th century, Espalion had become one of the fifth clandestine centers dedicated to the assembling of cheap pocket knives with nail from St Etienne, also called “jambettes stephanoises”. The Canel family, from Chambon (commune close to St Etienne) was assembling knives. These knives were sold in the area by hawkers during fairs. The Canel’s sonn who was also a cutler was “Bayle” of the” Confrérie Saint Eloi d’Espalion”. This very old and active brotherhood was composed of all taks linked to forge and metal.
In the middle of the 19th century, around 1850, Casimir Moulin, who was the first cutler based in Laguiole in 1828, left Aubrac plateau to settle with his son (cutler himself) St Come d’Olt. That’s where they created their own forge and cutlery, which closed in 1911.
Around 1874, Antoine Auguste Martin settled in Espalion as a cutler, he will be quickly joined by his brother Charles. The Salettes family is closely related to Aubrac cutlery and to the Belmon, Pagès and calmels families. Auguste Salettes’ brother married the daughter of the cutler Delrieu from Espalion. Salettes forged his own blades in his big forge chere he also worked as a maker of edge-tools.
Salettes had made handcrafted pocket knives until the burning of his forge in 1930.
In 1874, he subcontracted a part of the production to someone in Thiers.
In 1897, during the International fair in Marseille, he got the silver medal with a wonderful knife made with pages and Calmels.
The ancestor of the Laguiole was born from the adoption of the Navaja, with its Arab-Hispanic form, brought back from Spain in the early XIXth century by those who had gone to work as pit sawyers. The local knife of the time, the Capouchadou and the newly arrived Navaja, gave birth to the Laguiole.
1840: First appearance of the awl used to pierce the belly of herbivores swollen from having eaten tender grass (bloating).
1880: Arrival of the corkscrew demanded by the North Aveyron workers gone to work in Paris as waiters.
The cross of the shepherds on the handle is a miniaturization and the symbol of the Holy Cross. The Laguiole was planted in the bread to form a cross for the praying services of those who left for several months in transhumance, far from places of worship.
The connoisseur when closing his knife will carefully avoid slamming the blade, so as not to damage the edge or harm the spring, thus respecting the Aveyron proverb: "Silent spring will live old". (The stop prevents the blade from snapping on the spring.) The patriarch was the only one allowed to snap the blade to ask the family to clear the table.