Jason Clarke Antiques

Rare Swiss Army Knife Electric Retail Display Automaton by Victorinox


For sale, a rare Swiss army knife retail display by Victorinox.

This electric powered shop window display automaton was widely distributed across Europe from the 1950’s onwards by Victorinox to advertise the sale of their world famous Swiss Army Knives.

Still in business today, the company was founded in 1884 by the cutler, Karl Elsner in Ibach-Schwyz and the origins of the company name derive from the early support lent to him by his mother Victoria. Founding the Association of Swiss Master Cutlers in 1891, Elsner became the first major supplier of soldier’s knives to the Swiss Army and its growing success led him to patent his inventions in 1897 and the famous “Swiss Army knife” was born.

In 1909, the company was initially named and trademarked to “Victoria” after his mother’s death but later incorporated the “inox” after the invention of stainless steel in the early twentieth century. The company remained in family ownership and manufacturing became automated in the 1930’s to allow for demand and continuity of product and its popularity grew from strength to strength after American servicemen bought them in large quantities during World War II.

It remains a hugely profitable brand to this day with a global presence through distribution centres and also maintains a brand store and visitor’s centre in its home country.

This fun and good looking piece of advertising history would have been a common sight to those growing up in the latter part of the twentieth century and they rarely appear on the market in such good condition.

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