1940s/1950s Knife Sharpener Bicycle (Gundle?)

1940s/1950s Bicycle Knife Sharpener

Mobile knife-sharpening services are no longer a feature of our streets. In the disposable society of the 21st century, of course, we can throw away our blunt scissors and buy another pair.

But up until the fifties it would not have been uncommon to see a bicycle kitted out like the one here. And those who could not afford a bicycle for their knife-sharpening business would carry a small grinder with them as they called door-to-door.

My own family were immigrants to Great Britain in the early days of the 20th century. It was common knowledge in those days that Wales was a good place to set up a business calling door-to-door to offer goods and services, and many immigrants would travel to similar outlying communities to do just that.

America was the ‘land of opportunity’ where business acumen and hard work was respected and, in due course, one-man businesses were followed up by concerns such as Sears-Roebuck, who produced a  catalogue selling virtually everything – so that traveling salespeople and small shops in the middle of nowhere could offer extra goods to be delivered later.

Ebay fulfills a similar function in our current era: you can be supplied with goods without having to travel into the nearest town or city to buy them.

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I’m not absolutely sure of the manufacturer of my mobile knife-sharpener. I think it’s a Gundle. I’ve sent a picture of it to a tradesman’s bicycle group to see if anyone can help identify it.

grinder21

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The knife-sharpening bike pictured below is exhibited in the Museum of Science and Technology of Firenze, in Tuscany, Italy:

museum-of-science-and-technology-of-firenze

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Published on January 12, 2009 at 10:55 am  Comments (1)  

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One Comment

  1. [...] out this cool street side knife sharpener setup. I’ve been told this used to be a common occurrence back in the first half of the twentieth century. [via BikeHacks] Share this: Pin ItLike this:LikeBe [...]


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