I enjoy receiving gifts of food and other random kitchen gadgets. Christmas hasn’t arrived but I was gifted a kitchen blade. A very long one with a total length of 15”. It was rusted, covered with tape, and looked like it was kept at the bottom of a tool drawer. I do take in knives of various kinds and bring them back to life but I’ve never really done one that was as rusted out this. Yes, I’ve been told many times to do before and after pictures to show my work.
The history of the knife is a simple one, “This was the knife I saw my mother use in the kitchen. It’s a German knife, high carbon, from Solingen.” I am forever grateful for gifts but even more grateful to those who gift me their family heirlooms. I calculate the blade age to be around 53 years old. This is where a tear rolled down my cheek and I felt honored to have it.
So I took off the tape and started to grind away the rust. Turns out this blade is a Gustav Emil Ern Cimiter (scimitar). Total length is 15”. The blade is about 10”. This just got more interesting. How I have a company name and this blade started to clean up well. Mind you I started off with about 120 grit. The rust was thick. More importantly, I had to figure out some history.
Based on information on kitchen knife forums, Gustav Emil Ern was a German knife company in Solingen. Solingen is called the “City of Blades” because this is the birthplace of companies such as Boker, Wustof, and Henckels. Pretty much if you were hanging around during the Medieval times, this was the place to go to get the best sword. Solingen was at an intersection of trade and coal routes throughout Germany. This brought in the best coal to make those carbon based blades. While rated as one of the finest quality knives, Emil Ern closed doors in the 70s because they stuck with the traditional methods of making a blade.
Interwebs say they reopened in the 2000s and they were selling mass production knives. The quality at this point does not resemble any of their past products.
I have a better grasp of what’s in my hand with the family history heirloom lesson and a little bit more about the company. Yes, I did a search to see how much these knives are selling. From what I can tell, the older ones go for about $100 while the newer ones (my guess, made in the 80s) are selling for $70.
Back to the knife. Started off with 120 to get the rust off. Went to 600, then 800, and followed by 1000. Overall the knife looks great. The rust ate into the knife about .5 mm. Can I grind it out? Yes but I think it would eat into the knife too much. Right now it is at a point of usability. Quite frankly it puts my Dexter butcher blades to shame.