Back in the olden days, when matches were scarce in the outlying areas, many bushmen went back to their ancestral roots and used flint and steel instead. I’m not talking about the spark-showering ferrocerium rods sold today as “firesteels”, ferrocerium wasn’t even invented until the early 20th Century. No, what I’m talking about is a lump of steel (high carbon is best) struck against a lump of rock (flint or quartz, etc.) with the resulting spark caught by some form of tinder (charred cloth or dried fungus) and then coaxed into a flame with the addition of some bullswool (such as a bundle of dry grass or shredded stringybark). That’s a crash course in the use of the traditional flint and steel. The good news is that the use of a traditional flint and steel becomes much easier with practice.
Mercator pattern knives originated in Germany in the mid-1860s and were made by a variety of manufacturers. The standard Mercator pocket knives are a marvel of design – slimline, with a secure backlock and are still large enough to be useful for a variety of uses. They were far ahead of their time and are still popular in this second decade of the 21st Century. Possum skinners in New Zealand (where our beloved Aussie brushtail possum is an invasive feral which needs to be eradicated) swear by these Mercator knives, which they commonly call “cat” knives. I have a few of the standard “cat” knives, and I even carry one in my Bob Cooper survival kit since it has such a slim profile. My EDC pocket knife is a brass-scaled “cat” knife which I use for chopping up fruit mostly. Look out for a separate post soon covering these standard Mercator pocket knives. Continue reading “Old-Style Pocket Knives – the Mercator Multi”