Europe's biggest knife fairs are usually simply referred to by the place where they are held: Strasbourg, Solingen, Thiers, Gembloux. Each of these cities has its own character, and so do their knife fairs. Gembloux's is mainly characterised by its great variety.
Gembloux 2023. With much more space between the rows of tables, the show was far less crowded than before.
For years, the Belgian Knife Society’s show in Gembloux was almost literally bursting at the seams, both in terms of exhibitors and visitors. After Corona, the organising BKS made a clean sweep. The number of exhibitors was reduced by a third, paying particular attention to their quality. Fewer tables provided much more space, so that even with the same number of visitors, there was much more opportunity to view the offerings. The same was true of the 2023 edition - it almost seemed quiet at times.
By the way, things are about to change. The Foyer Communal de Gembloux, the building in which the event is currently held, contains asbestos and needs to be remediated, and perhaps even demolished. It is therefore likely that for the next few years the show will be held in a nearby sports hall, which at least has at least the same space. Several issues remain to be resolved, such as the cost of that accommodation, and catering. The BKS will no doubt announce that in good time.
The 2023 edition - the last in the Foyer Communal - had 114 exhibitors, in the usual variety: knife makers, suppliers of (damask) steel, leather and handle materials, pins and screws, tools and an impressive array of sophisticated grinders.
The level of knife-making was high, as usual. There was a strong French delegation, but in addition there were knife makers from all over Europe, from Finland and the Czech Republic to Germany and Italy - and of course Belgium itself. The types of knives were equally varied: kitchen knives, hunting knives, luxury knives, fixed blades and folding knives, with an emphasis on damask steel and more luxurious natural materials, with plenty of mammoth ivory. The photos on the following pages give an idea of the variety.
One of the attractions of the Gembloux show are the forging demonstrations, in which children can
participate as well.
A classy folder by Dutch maker Aad van Rijswijk: Damascus and Mammoth Ivory. The engraving is
by Pascal Jacoby.
The ‘Sycamore Sujihiki’ by Italian maker Alfredo Faccipieri. The 300 mm blade is Damasteel DS93X
‘Sparse Twist’, the handle is stabilized Sycamore. Overall length is 470 mm.
A set of three kitchen knives by French Atelier Ôdae. The blades are M690, the handles are Arizona
Desert Iron Wood. The three knives come with a leather carrying pouch.
A fixed blade by French maker David Jolivet, with a C130 blade and handle from Ebony and Warthog
Tusk. The knife has a hammered leather sheath.
The ‘Mocambo Bowie’ by Italian knife maker Denis Mura measures an impressive 40 cm.
The blade is mosaic Damask, the handle is stabilized Koa wood with Carbon Fiber Guard.
The leather sheath has carvings by Kiara.
A fixed blade by French maker Fabrice Delbart. The blade is sandwich Carbon Damask, the
handle is stabilized Poplar Burl. Overall length is 245 mm.
Two versions of the Swingguard by Belgian maker Filip de Leeuw. Both have an A2 blade. The
handle scales are crystallized Titanium on the upper knife, and Mammoth Ivory with Titanium
bolsters on the lower one.
A drop point hunter by Italian maker Francesco Piccinin. The blade is W2 with Hamon, the bolsters
are stainless steel and the handle is stabilized Buckeye Burl.
‘Ymir’, a linerlock folder by Italian maker Fulvio Cuccurullo. The blade is RWL 34, the handle scales
are Carbon Fiber with Amboyna Burl interframe. The overall length when opened is 17 cm.
A fixed blade by Belgian maker Georges Wouters. The blade is Achim Wirtz Damask, the handle
is Macassar Ebony. Overall length is 23 cm.
The ‘Beebe Hunter’ by Dutch maker Gert van den Elsen. The blade is Lohman Niolox, the
pommel and guard are Nickel Silver and the handle scales are stabilized Spalted Beech.
Overall length is 21 cm.
The ‘Breda Special’ by Dutch knife maker Hans Luiken. The blade is his own Damask, the handle is
mammoth tooth. Overall length of the knife is 175 mm.
Two examples of the Hill Knives Top Lock folder. The top one has a 72 mm blade from Balbach Damask
and a Titanium handle with Damask inlay. The lower knife has a 72 mm handle from Fritz Schneider
Damask and a Titanium handle with Mammoth tooth inlay.
An impressive fixed blade by French maker Jean-Louis Regel. The blade is Multibar twisted Damask,
the handle is stabilized Briar Burl. Overall length is 32 cm.
The ‘Outdoor’ by French maker Jean-Yves Drouard. The knife has a D2 full tang blade and G10
A liner lock folder by Finnish master bladesmith Jukka Hankala. The blade and bolster are handmade
Damask, the handle scales are Moose shinbone.
The ‘APEX Mini’ by French maker Louis Blanchet Kapnist. The blade is double twisted homemade
Damask (90MCV8 / 15N20), the bolsters are Mokume Gane and the handle scales are Mammoth.
The ‘Elegant Persian’ by Dutch knife maker Martin Annegarn. The linerlock folder has an RWL34
blade, Mammoth tool bolsters and Mammoth Ivory handle scales. It takes two hands to open the
knife; there are no thumb studs or a flipper.
The ‘Space-Seax’ by Finnish master bladesmith Pekka Tuominen. The blade is RWL-34, the handle is
Titanium and Carbon Fiber. The knife has a leather and stainless steel sheath.
This folding knife ‘Le Lien’ (the Link) is a collaboration between French artisans Pierre Reverdy and
Nicole Piel. The Damask blade is 203E and O1 steel with a chain of dancers. This motif reflects in
the silver and enamel handle with dancing figures. Overall length when opened is 19 cm.
The Thur flipper V3 by Belgian knife maker Simen Stryckers. The framelock folder has an M390 blade.
The handle is Titanium with a slightly grooved Fat Carbon Artic Storm inlay. This knife is a left-handed
version for a customer. Overall length when opened is 20,1 cm.
The ‘Ghost’ by French maker Stéphane Sagric. Despite the name, it is a beauty in form, materials and
finish. The blade is RWL34, the handle scales are Vintage Micarta.
‘Lucio’s Clip’, a slipjoint folder by German maker Stefan Steigerwald. The 78 mm blade is 1.2442 steel,
the bolsters are Jozef Ros Damask and the handle scales are Mammoth. Overall length is 182 mm.
The ‘Black Unicorn’ by French maker Tim Bernard. The blade is his own feather Damask, the handle
scales are Narwhal Ivory.
The Bull Shark M Anniversary Model by Dutch maker Toni Oostendorp. His Bull Shark Model appeared
15 years ago. The blade is 1.2895 steel, hot blued and then stonewashed. The handle is industrial Micarta.
The ‘Silvana’, a masterpiece by Belgian knife maker Veronique Laurent. The blade is Multibar W
twisted Damask (90MCV8 / 15N20), the handle scales are Sambar. The little flowers on the guard
and the rear of the handle are made from brass. Overall length is 25 cm.
The ‘Kikimora’ by Russian maker Vladimir Gerasimov. The blade is Inox Damask, the handle is Mokume.