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Kentucky 5-Blade Congress

A Kentucky 5-blade congress is just that: a congress pocket knife pattern with 5 blades. The Congress pocket knife arrived on the scene in the early 1800’s. A typical congress knife has a convex front with a shallow concave back, as does a Kentucky 5-blade. The 5th blade often becomes the primary clip point blade.

The early market for the knife was the Antebellum South and the blades chosen were those needed to fulfill its agricultural needs (tobacco, etc.). The 5-blade congress features two sheepsfoot blades, a small coping, a small pen, and the primary clip point. The sheepsfoot blades were used extensively in the cotton and tobacco industry. The reason for two sheepsfoot blades, one on each end, is the same reason the muskrat has two identical blades, it allowed the user to cut twice as long before having to stop and re-sharpen his blades. The coping blade was used for whittling, and the pen blade originally provided a blade with a point on it. There is a story that U.S. congressmen would be given whittling sticks to pass the time, so they wouldn’t carve into the furniture – maybe this is where the initial description of “a congress knife” came from.

The most famous congress is probably the 6-blade congress that Abraham Lincoln was carrying when he was assassinated. Today, many people call a 6-blade Congress, regardless of the blades configuration a Lincoln congress. The early Congress knives, including the Lincoln congress, were made on a slim concave shaped handle. This meant that when the knife was placed spine down on a flat surface only the ends would touch the surface; the center of the knife would be raised in the air.

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