How to recognize a counterfeit Laguiole knife?

If you read this page, it means that you have doubts about the authenticity of your knife.
Laguiole is not a single company, there are several companies in the center of France who manufacture Laguiole knife in the respect of the ancestral tradition.
Laguiole is not a brand, it is the name of a knife invented in the 19th century, it is also the name of a village of a village in Aveyron, in central France, village of approximately 1200 inhabitants. It is also the name of a cheese.
The Laguiole knife is not a protected brand, which is why you find Laguiole knives made all over the world. However, the Laguiole knife has characteristics that few manufacturers know how to do. Laguiole has also just obtained an IGP which means that only knives manufactured under this IGP can claim to be real Laguiole knives, which is the case of our brand of course.

Who is Laguiole company ?

For novices, the market is confusing because it is opaque. Indeed, there are more than a hundred different companies in France that manufacture knives and other products under the name "Laguiole". You can find everything under the Laguiole name, knives, saucepans, lighters, etc.… Laguiole name is overused and companies that sell these products are not necessarily blacksmiths or companies that manually produce high quality products in Thiers.
You would not buy Texan hats in Paris, the same goes for a Laguiole, it is better to buy it from a manufacturer in Thiers city to have a guarantee of manufacture and authenticity.
Most of Laguiole knives that you find on Amazon, Cdiscount or La Redoute are fakes made in China or Pakistan. They are made on automated lines with low quality raw materials.
The wood is of poor quality, the bolsters are glued and they deteriorate very quickly. Many are plastic.

Beware of copies and cheap products

Whether on the Internet or in a specialized store in France or abroad, we recommend that you be vigilant about the characteristics of a real Laguiole before buying a Laguiole knife.
About 80% of knives sold on the Internet and in shops are fakes, simply because intermediaries buy them for €2 in China to resell them for €30 in France. This reality is a shame but unfortunately, we have to deal with it. We are fighting for Laguiole to become an IGP and this will soon be the case. In the meantime, it is difficult to know if your knife comes from a French assembly workshop that respects the manufacturing standards of a Laguiole knife.
Do not expect to have a box of 6 table Laguiole for 50 €, such a box costs at least 300 €, i.e. 60 € per knife, this gives you a first idea of the origin and the quality of the product.

Selection criteria for purchasing a Laguiole

1.    The existence of a real manufacturing workshop

The original knife maker must be a true craftsman based in France, near Thiers city or Laguiole city. 90% of the manufacturers are from Thiers because the manufacture of Laguiole began in Thiers in the 19th century. For 30 years, some workshops have been established in Laguiole in Aubrac area. Some of these workshops make real Laguiole knives like Forge de Laguiole but the majority of the manufacturers are in Thiers, like ours, Laguiole Le Fidèle workshop, which has been making Laguiole knives for several decades. Our address is known and our workshops are open to the public in the ZI les Hautes in Lezoux, near Thiers.
The videos on our site show you our know-how, but the best thing is to come and see the craftsmen at work, so you can get an idea of the many stages involved in the manufacture of our knives.

2.    Lifetime warranty

All our products are lifetime guaranteed against any manufacturing defect. However, we do not guarantee the misuse of the knife, a knife is not a can opener, nor a screwdriver, you will damage the blade and the guarantee will not work. Similarly, materials such as wood or horn do not like water, which is why they should not be washed, so you wash the blade by hand and clean the handles with a cloth. No dishwasher at all.
You cannot imagine the number of emails I receive each week asking me to replace a Laguiole made in China or Pakistan. All our knives have blades forged with our Laguiole le Fidèle logo, so there is no need to contact us if your knife was not made in our workshops.

3.    Blade repair or replacement.

Beyond the warranty, if your knife is a Laguiole Le Fidèle, we can repair it. For example, if you have damaged the horn and put it in the dishwasher or if the blade is too worn, we can change parts. This is the advantage of handmade, it allows us to redo your knife if necessary.
A customer contacted me one day, he had a Le Fidèle knife that his father had given him as an inheritance. This knife was several decades old and the blade, sharpened hundreds of times, was very thin. The customer asked us to replace the used blade with a new one and he wanted to keep the old one in memory of his dad, what we did. Our craftsmen cleaned the knife and changed the blade, then we sent the remade knife back with the old blade. Our client was delighted with the result.
We have many stories like this in our workshops, which makes our teams proud.

4.    Tailor-made Laguiole

As a manufacturer, the advantage is to be able to offer tailor-made products. Of course we have templates, our forged blades are between 9 to 13 cm, but we can offer you to make the knife you want with the blade size of your choice, the material of the desired handle and the desired patterns. We also engrave alms, bolsters and boxes.
One of my clients asked me one day to make knives with the wood from his land. We therefore recovered the dry wood of this customer, then put this wood in chips to manufacture the Laguiole with the desired handle, oak and cherry. The origin of the wood of the knife has been engraved on each box. It became a much appreciated Christmas present.
Another story, a restaurant in Scotland asked us for knives with an antler handle. We custom made these knives with high quality deer antler. Restaurant customer are very surprised and enjoy these beautiful knife on the table of the restaurant.

5.    Fly or bee on Laguiole knives

The ornament represents a bee, but the fly is also commonly used to describe the emblem of Laguiole. It is a bee with a round, triangular or oval head on the spring allowing the locking of the blade. Our bees are welded on classic knives and forged on prestige knives.
Early knives in the 18th had an undecorated metal plate, which acted as a stop for the blade, or triggered a blade release mechanism on some knives, but over time the bee was adopted, giving a much more beautiful decoration with a knife.
The work of the bee depends on the type of spring. The spring is part of the folding mechanism of the knife and also protects the blade. A stopper (blade stopper) prevents the blade from hitting when closing.
During its manufacturing process, the spring is heated to 850 degrees. It is then pressed flat. The resulting flat spot becomes a bee before being refined.
Over time some more stylized bees were created. Anyway it is necessarily forged or welded, in no case glued.

6.    The finish of the springs

The springs are heated to 1030 degrees then soaked in an oil bath. They are then heated and hardened again for an hour at 230 degrees, finally sanded, brushed and cleaned. The spring is the support of the handle, it is then decorated with patterns imagined by the craftsman. It is at this precise moment that the spring takes its final shape. The artisan cutler affixes his personal signature by making the decoration (also named guillochage) all along the spring. This high precision work can only be done after many years of experience.

7.    The raw material of the handles

The material of the handle of the Laguiole knife is very important because it gives character to the knife. Initially in brown or blond horn, we now offer a wide range of woods (coral wood, amboyna burl, snakewood, birch wood, bocote wood, bovine bone, boxwood, briar root, cocobolo, curly maple, guaiac wood, iron wood, juniper wood, oak wood, olive wood, snake wood, rosewood, royal ebony, cedar burl, kingwood, walnut, giraffe bone, mammoth ivory, ebony, pistachio wood, yew wood, deer antler/horn, fossil mammoth molar…)

What does Laguiole mean in France?

Laguiole is the name of a town in Aveyron. The term Laguiole has become synonymous with knives and cutlery of a particular shape. The real Laguiole is made in Thiers in the Massif Central region of France. Traditionally 70% of French cutting tools were made in this region and Laguiole knives were originally pocket knives.
The Laguiole was first designed in 1829. The earliest forms of Laguiole knife were straight bladed and handle. The classic navaja-type laguiole appears to have been developed around 1860. The Calmels straight laguiole had a 'half-lock' on the blade where a small protrusion at the end of the rear spring (fly) puts pressure on a recess matching in the blade heel when the knife is open, this has become a constant feature of Laguiole knives.

How to pronounce laguiole

Laguiole is the name of a knife and a cheese, but it is above all the name of a village. We invite you to discover its streets and its modest heritage - and do you know how to pronounce “LAGUIOLE”?
Originally, "Laguiole" was a small chapel belonging to the parish of Alcorn. The historical derivation of Laguiole has its roots in the word "La Gleisola" (1182) meaning small church. Writing it therefore required splitting the word to show the original article.
In the 16th century, Laguiole became the main church. Its pronunciation "Laïole" comes from the patois of our ancestors.
The Bull of Laguiole, an imposing bronze statue by Georges Guyot, has had a place on the cattle market square since 1947. It symbolizes the Aubrac breed for the whole plateau. Holidaymakers sometimes grant it virtues such as a lucky charm.
Be sure to visit the village church and enjoy the 360° view from the fort over the slate roofs of houses with thick basalt and granite walls.

The legal battles around Laguiole?

The story began in 1993 when a certain Gilbert Szajner, from Saint-Maur-des-Fossés (Val-de-Marne - French department near Paris), decided to register the famous Laguiole brand. Laguiole has been a world-renowned name since the 19th century and is synonymous with high-end French-made cutlery. His idea was to acquire the rights to use the name "Laguiole", in turn acquiring its prestige in order to use it to market not only knives but also linens, clothing, lighters and even barbecues. ! This would give Szajner the right to collect royalties by selling licenses to French and foreign companies wishing to market their products under the Laguiole brand.
Despite being charged with infringement in 1999, Szajner did not give up on his project and continued the copyright battle. In 2010, he began filing several appeals. The case was decided in his favor in April 2014 when the magistrates of the Paris Court of Appeal decided that the term "Laguiole knives", the majority of which are created in Thiers located in the Auvergne region, has become a generic term. which distinguishes a pocket knife with a specific shape.
In the meantime, the knife makers in the town of Laguiole have decided to take action. They were supported by figures who were worried and dissatisfied with the situation, including local public authorities and the EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Office). These people, supported by the Forge de Laguiole association, claimed their natural right to use the Laguiole label on the basis of a previous court decision which had been favorable to them. However, a few months later, that decision was reversed when Szajner obtained the copyright in April 2014.
In 2016, a recent decision by the Court of Cassation must have warmed the hearts of Laguiole activists, who have long demanded the right to use the name of their commune. The Court of Cassation is the French court of last resort, which has jurisdiction over all cases, recently made changes to the decision rendered by the court in April 2014. The recent decision of the Court of Cassation (partially in favor of covered French-made) infringed Szajner's copyright because his "marketing strategies were [deemed] misleading" in nature. However, the court ruling did not remove Szajner's right to use the Laguiole label.
The disagreement between Gilbert Szajner and Forge de Laguiole recalls the debate between Laguiole and Thiers, located in Auvergne the capital of French-made cutlery, concerning whether or not an IGP (Protected Geographical Indication) should be granted for the famous Laguiole knives.

The IGP Laguiole: the geographical indication of the knife in the hands of Thiers in the Puy-de-Dôme!

It's official, the National Institute of Industrial Property assigns the GI of the Laguiole knife to the Couteau Laguiole Aubrac Auvergne (Claa) association, whose headquarters are in Thiers in Puy-de-Dôme. The news had the effect of a bomb in Laguiole with the obtaining of the geographical indication of the knife attributed to the Thiernois cutlers. This award concerns the following geographical area: 94 municipalities in Aveyron, Lozère, Cantal, Puy-de-Dôme, Loire and Allier. 38 companies in the area make up the group of initial operators of the Laguiole knife geographical indication, knowing that the system is open and that any company in the area committing to respecting the specifications can join the indication at any time. geographical.
As a reminder, the National Institute of Industrial Property had rejected the request of the Association of Aveyron manufacturers of the Laguiole knife last spring. By validating the request of the cutlers of Thiers, the Inpi buries Laguiole.
A fight that has been going on since 2010. A decision that will impact the ongoing procedure of the municipality of Laguiole to recover the use of its name.
The geographical indication of the Laguiole de Thiers knife concerns three families of knives: the folding knives, the sommeliers and the table knives, whereas the specifications of the Laguiolais did not relate to the folding knife, the historic Laguiole knife. The presence of a bee, the shape of the blade called Yatagan and the curved shape of the knife are mandatory characteristics, except for the closing knife, also recognized with a straight shape. All the knife manufacturing steps (supplies, decoration, assembly and finishing) must be carried out in the municipalities of the geographical area defined in the specifications.

Who owns the Laguiole knife ?

80% of Laguiole knives are made in Thiers in the Puy de Dôme, the historic place where these knives were created. This city located in the Auvergne region has around 80 knife manufacturing companies, produces 70% of French knives and at the beginning of the 19th century around 25,000 craftsmen worked along the Durolle river as cutlers, making Thiers the capital of French cutlery. Over the past centuries, Thiers has been recognized worldwide for its excellent craftsmanship and high quality production.
Thiers can even be proud to have contributed to the success of the Laguiole knife. The Laguiole may have been created in 1830 by Pierre-Jean Calmels in the Aveyron but Thiers and his talented craftsmen, modern manufacturing techniques and industrial power allowed the Laguiole knife to be manufactured in large quantities in the middle of the Nineteenth century.
Indeed, the city of Laguiole stopped the large-scale production of its eponymous knife for a long time and only relaunched its production in the mid-1980s.

Cutlery made in France: strength in number !

Thiers is the stronghold of French-made cutlery, whose notoriety is second to none. The Laguiole range with a bee engraving and a thin blade are known throughout the world, yet counterfeits continue to proliferate on the market, even if from a legal point of view, there is neither true nor fake Laguiole because this famous brand belongs to the public domain!

The future of French-made cutlery

French cutlers are currently facing a huge challenge. They must work together to offer their customers genuine top-of-the-range French-made knives, including Laguiole knives and other knives of impeccable quality.
Artistic and kitchen cutlery enthusiasts can tell the difference between a quality knife and a low-end knife. Currently, the French cutlery industry is struggling with competing companies (particularly Asian), so it is important to come together around an IGP to counter this competition, which is much more worrying than the Thiers Laguiole battle because the cutlers of Thiers and Laguiole share the same passion, they use their talents to preserve a tradition and create new objects, for example the Thiers pocket knife, created fifteen years ago. It now seems essential to unite all the craftsmen and cutlers of France in order to preserve the traditional craftsmanship of the country (envied by many but never equaled) and its image of high-end cutlery. We would like to conclude this article with a few words: long live the Laguiole knife, the city of Laguiole, Thiers and French-made cutlery!