Old Bear knives
Italy may not be the first thing that comes to mind when hearing the brand name Old Bear. Yet Old Bear knives are made in the heart of the Italian knife industry, Maniago, by the company Antonini that was founded in 1925. To mark its 90th anniversary, they came up with the Old Bear brand, some models of which are shown here.
Two Old Bear models, opened and closed. The upper knife, the Classical, has a plain 420 stainless
blade and olivewood handle. The lower one, the 'Total Black', has a 420 blade with a PTFE coating
and an ebonised wooden handle.
Antonini is a medium-sized company. Its range features over 500 models, with a total annual production of 300,000 knives. Most are quite specialised knives, for agriculture, horticulture, water sports, or electricians. One of the best-known Antonini knives is probably the “cartridge knife: a knife with a handle shaped like a shotgun cartridge, a revolver cartridge or rifle cartridge.
In 2015, on the occasion of the Antonini’s 90th anniversary, the company launched a new brand: Old Bear. The range consists of simple but well-made knives using natural materials. The blade is AISI 420 stainless or carbon steel, the handle is wood, either olive or American walnut, or coloured laminated wood. The Old Bear range has a mushroom knife with a brush, a pruning knife and several hobby knives, but the majority are pocket knives. There is also a deluxe version of these, with a blade of Damasteel DS93X - New Super Dense Twist and a handle of black laminated wood or olive wood. Another special edition has a walnut handle hand-carved by Italian chef and woodworker Fabio Allara, with embossed geometric motifs.
Finally, the Old Bear range has a “Young” knife. As the name suggests, this is a model designed to familiarise children with the use of knives. The Young is made with a 60 or 70 mm blade and comes with an unsharpened blade (according to Antonini for children aged 4 to 8 years) or with a sharpened blade (from 8 years). In all cases, the blade has a rounded tip.
Two versions of the Old Bear “Young”, with a 60 and 70 mm blade. The children's knives come
both sharpened and unsharpened.
All Old Bear models have the same locking mechanism. At first glance it looks like the lock of the French Opinel, but it is different. The mechanism was invented in the 1980s by Arduino and Ottorino Todesco from Maniago, who patented it in 1987 and are actively involved in the Old Bear project.
The lock consists of a fixed ring around the top of the handle, near the pivot point of the blade. The ring has a longitudinal opening, to open and close the blade, and an elongated recess in the transverse direction, through which the ridge of a semi-circular metal plate protrudes upwards. That plate can rotate. In the lower position of the cam, the plate lies behind the opened blade or in front of the closed blade. In both cases, the movement of the blade is blocked. When the cam is turned up, the blade is released, and can be opened or closed.
The locking mechanism of the Old Bear knives consists of a rotating plate.
The deluxe Old Bear Collection Damascus Steel, with a blade of Damasteel, on its eye-catching pack.