Thought I'd send you a photo of a whittling knife which is now in my possession - As you can see it has been well used and I suspect that it is at least 30-40 years old - Its a "Laguiole" - top of the range for whittling - they are still made by hand in the factory in Lozere, France.
The knife was owned by Jacky, the father of a friend in the South of France - Jacky was "very French".... When I knew him, he had retired and spent every day in a local bar drinking pastis, holding forth on any pretty much any topic and smoking many, many cigarettes. Jacky has an interesting if slightly macabre history - He married young, worked as a mason and was a talented footballer - In his 19th summer, he was offered a position to play for the Marseille football team - starting at the beginning of the coming season - during that summer whilst on the job, fell from some scaffolding and broke both of his legs - Having destroyed his impending football career - Jacky took a shotgun, put it to his stomach and pulled the trigger on both barrels....... He lived, wasn't seriously disabled by the shotgun blasts and I therefore had the pleasure of meeting the quick tempered and forthright Jacky many times - I had a penchant for wearing heavy boots at the time - he used to call them my "pantoufles"
His son gave me the knife when Jacky died.....These days I whittle cheese with his knife and open the occasional letter......