cutlery, various types of implements for cutting, preparing, and eating food. In addition to different kinds of knives and the steels to sharpen them, the term usually encompasses forks and spoons. The history of cutlery probably begins with the shell and the sharp flint used for cutting. The primitive craft of chipping flint began by improving naturally sharp edges, e.g., the chipped flint knives of the Neolithic period. Knives were made of copper and bronze when those metals came into use. Finally steel and alloys of steel have displaced other materials for the blades of instruments for cutting. The early generalized cutting instrument has been differentiated into specialized instruments of wide variety, e.g., the sword, the razor, and shears. Table knives were introduced c.1600; until then, individuals brought to the table their own knives, which served also as daggers. The penknife was originally a knife for pointing quill pens. The pocket knife, with the blade folding into the handle, was invented c.1600. The cutler's craft or industry was long marked by the successful resistance of the handicraftsman to mass production. Small shops, with from one workman to a half dozen, were characteristic. Certain localities have become known for the excellence of their cutlery. In Spain, the Toledo blade was famous when the sword was an important weapon. Solingen, in Germany, and Sheffield, in England, have been noted for their cutlery since the Middle Ages. The best knives are forged from high-carbon steel. Cheaper grades are beveled from steel bars thick in the center and tapering toward the edges or are stamped from sheets of metal. In hollow-ground blades, the sides are concave. For stainless blades, the steel is usually partly replaced by, or coated with, chromium. Scissors blades commonly are either cast in molds or stamped. Most razor blades are die-stamped.
See G. I. Lloyd, The Cutlery Trades (1913, repr. 1968); J. B. Himsworth, Story of Cutlery, from Flint to Stainless Steel (1954).
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.
a cutting instrument in the shape of a plate with a sharp edge (blade). The oldest knives (thin flint plates with a cutting edge) became known in the Upper Paleolithic period.
With the introduction of metalworking, flint knives were gradually replaced by copper and bronze knives; however, they did not disappear entirely until iron knives came into widespread use with the beginning of the Iron Age. The use of iron knives fostered the development of several trades, particularly those associated with the working of wood and bone. Knives used in viniculture were also known in antiquity.
The technology of making knives from iron had attained a high level of development by the end of the first millennium A.D. Knives with laminated, self-honing blades appeared at that time (for example, in Rus’). The inner part of such blades was made of high-carbon steel, and the outer part was made of iron. The softer outer metal wore off with use; the harder steel plate protruded through the blade, and the knife remained sharp. By the early 12th century production of knives became widespread; the complex technology of making laminated blades was replaced by the simpler process of making knives with a welded steel blade. Concurrently, an increasing number of special types of knives were being produced. Later, with the introduction of industrial production processes, the term “knife” also came to mean a cutting member of tools and machines.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
What does it mean when you dream about a knife?
A knife can signify the need to cut to the quick, to lay open one’s innermost fears. It may indicate being “stabbed in the back” or being the victim or perpetrator of an act of violence. A knife in a dream is also often seen as a male sexual symbol, and is generally associated with aggression.
The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.