Patents: A ‘Pocket knife combined with a flint lighter’

Patents: A ‘Pocket knife combined with a flint lighter’

One hundred years ago, a German company called Bruchhaus & Baltrusch patented a combination of a pocket knife and a lighter. This may look like a forerunner of the modern outdoor knife and fire steel, but the size suggests that both the knife and lighter were for domestic purposes.
 
In May 1921, a German company with the name of Bruchhaus & Baltrusch in Elberfeld, near Solingen, received patent 369 343 for ‘Mit einem Fackelstiftfeuerzeug vereinigtes Taschenmesser’ (a pocket knife combined with a flint lighter).
At first, the patent seemed rather puzzling. As Bruchhaus & Baltrusch were located close to Solingen, the assumption was that they were knife makers. Yet J. Anthony Carter’s monumental study ‘German Knife and Sword makers’ makes no mention of such a company. There is an Emil Bruchhaus, a manufacturer of pocket knives near Solingen, who registered the brand name Protea in 1920, but no mention of Baltrusch.
Looking a bit further, however, shows that the search started at the wrong end. Bruchhaus & Baltrusch were not knife makers, but successful producers of lighters (trademark BeBe). The patent title should have been read the other way around: a lighter combined with a pocket knife, with the emphasis on the lighter.
Nonetheless, the invention is quite interesting. Both a pocket knife and a lighter can be considered essential tools in a civilised society. Combining them made sense, and Bruchhaus & Baltrusch did so in an attractive manner. Knife (or knives) and lighter were housed in a metal container of some 6 by 2 centimetres, and only half a centimetre wide – small enough to carry in almost any pocket. One half of the container had the blades (the patent drawing shows two of them) with a combined spring. The other half of the container had cotton wool with gasoline, and a lighter flint with a knob. The container spine had a replaceable ferrocerium plate (h) to ignite the flame.
The whole idea seems simple and elegant, and pretty modern. Bruchhaus & Baltrusch also remarked that the outer side of the container could be “nickelled, silver-plated, oxidised, or otherwise clad, to obtain a favourable appearance.”
For those who want to know a bit more on the Bruchhaus & Baltrusch lighters: some nice  examples can be found at www.broesan-1000feuerzeuge.de/DEUTSCHLAND/BEBE.html or at
dirks-feuerzeuge.de/bebe.html
 

The drawings from German patent 369 343, granted on Mai 14, 1921 to Bruchhaus & Baltrusch in Elberfeld,
for their ‘Pocket knife combined with a flint lighter’.