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May 23, 2024

34 Vintage Postcards Depict Knife-Grinders on the Streets of France From the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries

It’s a very old trade. It is said to date back to the 14th century. The work of the grinder consisted in sharpening knives, scissors or daggers using a grinding wheel. The grinder traveled from village to village with his equipment in order to sharpen cutting utensils.

Initially carrying his grindstone on his back, he then switched to the wheelbarrow and then to the cart to facilitate transportation. The guild of grinders was recognized in the 15th century. A few years later, it was joined by the guild of cutlers. Their patron saint is Saint Catherine.

The profession of grinder lived on until the 20th century, when knives started to be made of better quality steel, no longer requiring regular sharpening. Therefore, their cries and the noise of the metal on the grindstone which animated the villages as they passed through, became a thing of the past.


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