Invented by German steel exporter Heinrich Kaufmann in 1867, the Mercator knife gained popularity in the United States following World War II, when returning servicemen brought the blades home from Germany. Among knife aficionados, the Mercator maintains a cult following for its utility, handmade quality and long history. A lockback mechanism ensures that the blade stays in place while in use. The heel of the handle holds a tin can opener. The helix construction corkscrew (meaning that the corkscrew is bladed throughout so that it cuts through the cork) folds out in the middle of the handle, allowing you to use it as a grip when uncorking wine. Finally, an awl (metal spike) is included for loosening knots and piercing holes in leather and fabrics. Because sometimes you need that extra belt loop hole pronto. The Mercator is immediately recognizable for the famous imprint on the black powder coated steel handle: K55K below an outline of a cat. The first “K” stands for Kaufmann, while “55” refers to the street number of the original head office. The last “K” refers to the German word for cat, katze.
A nail-nick (crescent shaped sliver on blade) makes the blade easy to pull out. A lockback mechanism ensures that your knife stays open when you need it to. Depress the steel lever at the handle of the knife to fold the blade back in. Check the locking notch of lockbacks regularly to ensure that it is working properly. Keep all sand and grit out of the knife and keep the mechanisms clean. Carbon steel knife blades are harder, have a finer grain structure and retain their edge longer than stainless steel, but they require more care.To properly care for a carbon steel blade, wash it with mild soap and dry thoroughly after each use. Never place in the dishwasher. A moist towel can be used to wipe your blade between use with different foods. This is critical when cutting highly acidic foods. With care and over time, a carbon steel blade will develop a deep gray or blue patina from exposure to different elements. This coating is similar to the seasoning of a well-used cast iron skillet, as it will protect the blade from rust and discoloration. This dark patina is the sign of a favorite, well-used knife. If your blade does develop rust spots, our Extra Fine Steel Wool Pad and a little soap should remove the rust, though it may also leave tiny scratch marks on the blade, so go gently. Clean knife and tool joints by applying an industrial lubricant or oil and scrubbing crevices with a toothbrush. Remember to keep your knife sharpened: a dull blade can be more dangerous than a properly maintained one.
Otter-Messer, a blade manufacturer based out of Northern Germany, absorbed the Mercator brand made famous by Heinrich Kaufmann in 1995 and revived the knife based on yellowed drawings of the original design. Though simple and functional, the narrow knife is made by hand and requires over 120 steps to produce. Otter-Messer was founded around 1840 in a traditional grinder’s watermill by the Berns brothers. The company name refers to the indigenous otters that live in the riverbanks and streams of Northern Germany.
Carbon steel pocketknife with lockback blade, tin can opener, corkscrew with helix construction (no cork crumbs) and awl (metal spike) for loosening knots and piercing holes. Made in Germany since 1840. (more info)
Blade length: 4 inches long (9 cm)
Body with knife extended: 9 inches long (22.8 cm)
Body with knife folded: 5 inches long x 1 inch wide x ½ inch thick
(12.7 cm x 2 ½ cm x 1.2 cm)
Can opener:1 ½ inches long x 0.6 inches wide (3.8 cm x 1 ½ cm)
Cork screw: 2 ½ inches long (6.3 cm)
Awl: 2 inches long (5 cm)
Powder coated steel handle
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