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Gerber Knifes - Creating the Legend

Gerber Knifes

Joseph Roman Gerber's (1891 - 1966) first Portland, Oregon, business was printing commercial labels and letterhead and helping customers publicize and market their products. In 1938, local blacksmith and knifemaker David Murphy appeared in Gerber's office with carving knives he was selling door to door. Gerber liked the tooled steel blades and cast-aluminum handles, and he bought them for Christmas gifts. Then he had an idea.

Gerber offered Murphy $1 apiece, and 50 percent of the profits, for every knife he made. Gerber then packaged a set of three Gerber knifes in a walnut presentation box and priced it at $25. With the knives, he included a printed description of their unique qualities, so customers wouldn't confuse them with ordinary knives. These, Gerber wanted them to know, were "Gerber Legendary Blades." New York's Abercrombie & Fitch bought his first sets and sold out instantly.

Murphy and Gerber separated, with some unpleasantness, at the outbreak of World War II, Murphy specializing in combat knives and Gerber returning to printing. After the war, with a staff of novices, Gerber returned to making Gerber knifes, using scrap aluminum engine parts and power-hacksaw blades. Urged by Abercrombie's to make sheathed hunting knives, Gerber delivered one with a finger-grip hilt based on a patented design for suitcase handles. Since then, there have been folding knives, the famous Vietnam combat dagger, and today, following Gerber's 1987 sale to Finnish knife and scissors manufacturer Fiskars, the very popular Multi-Plier, a multi-function tool. All of them are as good as Joe Gerber's legendary words.

The Gerber Multi-Tool

A Gerber multi-tool is a compact multi-function tool from a range made by Gerber Legendary Blades. It is similar to the better-known Leatherman tool, but employs a different opening mechanism. Whereas the Leatherman opens by rotating one handle through about 300 degrees, the pliers of the Gerber slide straight out from the end. This allows the Gerber to be flicked open easily with one hand, perhaps while holding something together with the other. Those who regularly carry a multi-tool tend to be polarized into Leatherman and Gerber knife camps, with a very strong perference for one or the other, usually based on the opening action.

Two sizes of Gerber tool are available, with various combinations of components from the mundane (screwdrivers) to the esoteric (demolition detonator crimps). The smaller "Compact" size is suitable for wearing on the belt at all times.

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