Somebody gave my dad a knife when he was maybe 11, in about 1954. It’s from the Pontus Holmberg factory in Eskilstuna, Sweden’s one-time knife-smith capital. When they made my dad’s knife they had less than ten years left in the business. Eskilstuna once had about 200 knife factories, but only EKA-knivar (est. 1882) and Knivsmedjan survive.
My dad used his knife to whittle pine-bark boats and gut fish. Eventually he had sons of his own and gave the knife to me, the older, in the early 80s. My first knife! Sadly, by this time the leather of the sheath was brittle and something soon went wrong with the grip. A repair attempt ended up bending the grip, and the sheath could no longer be hung from my belt. So my parents gave me a new knife for my hiking-club activities, from Frost in Mora. I kept the old messed-up knife though, out of respect for its age and association with my dad.
Recently I started to think about the old Holmberg knife when I was planning a mountain hike. 1st Millennium AD swords were often taken apart, their grips re-used, the parts juggled and recombined. This was important to elite masculinity and patrilineal ideology. Maybe I could get my dad’s knife renovated and start using it again?
Some googling and correspondence with Torbjörn Eriksson of the web site Eskilstunaknivar.se led me to the aforementioned Knivsmedjan in Eskilstuna, Jan Hammar’s business. He has renovated countless Eskilstuna knives, and readily took on my dad’s. Now, just look at that work! Every single piece is original except for the little brass nut at the butt end and one of the thin red vulcanised fiber slices in the grip. I am so very pleased, and I look forward to bringing the Holmberg knife on many future hikes!