An Ancient Knife

comments 5
Curing / Family

This knife belonged to my great grandmother on my father’s side, Angelina Minniti (1883-1954). I recently “borrowed” it from my mother on a semi-permananent basis. I always remember seeing it in the drawer as a kid, with it’s protective sheath made from cardboard and duct tape, but rarely ever saw it being used. Now that I have ownership, it has become quite the weapon in my culinary arsenal (literally). It is massive, sharp, and full of character. My guess is that it is from the early 1900’s, but someone who has experience with old knives will need to give me more information. The blade is raw steel (I am assuming) and the handle is hardwood. The rivets are copper and hand forged. I don’t know if this knife came from Italy with my great grandmother when she traveled here, but it is a possibility.

You should see this thing go through a melon, or slice fatty salumi cleanly (even at room temperature). Even though it is unwieldy it still gets used quite often. I really don’t care that there are large stains on the blade or worry about the raw steel coming in contact with food. Each time I use it I can see and feel the history of this utensil that has been used by my family for generations.

Save your old stuff – and pass it on.


  1. Paul Perasso says

    Nice old butcher’s knife John. It is surprising there is so much of the blade left after all these years. The carbon steel will sharpen well and no worries about it coming into contact with food.

    Family pieces are a true treasure. I got really lucky with my Nona’s “fancy” table settings. She made one trip back to Italy and on that trip spent three days in Deruta picking out over 100 pieces. My uncle, who took here on the trip, said it was great time. She drove ceramic workshop people crazy, and he hung out and drank coffee and wine. She left them to me because of her grandchildren I was the most interested in cooking and eating! Pissed some cousins off, but they still get to eat off them!

  2. Michael S. Rolli says

    Really enjoyed this post. I have a number of old items that belonged to my nonna, including a 42 qt pot that I still use to make “Sunday gravy” for huge holiday gatherings.

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