It seems I am beginning to accumulate a collection of penknives. For whatever reason, I have always been fascinated with a penknife. I’ve had them on and off since I was about six years old. I’ve only ever had five that I would consider precious. One was stolen from me – a slimline, stainless steel beauty with a fox motif that was one of the last things I bought with my Gran’s birthday money gifts. If I could track down a replacement, I’d be so happy.

Anyway, look at these four. From left to right…

  1. The Swiss Army Knife. The classic brand, Victorinox. I believe it is a Work Champ. I’ve owned this knife for at least 20 years. My parents bought it for me, possibly as a 30th birthday present. It was taken from me in an airport in Belgium, but made it back to Glasgow, where I retrieved it. It has been with me ever since on every camping trip, every hill walk, every bothy stay. I even used it to assemble a full set of IKEA wardrobes.
  2. My first Opinel. I love Opinel knives, a French design classic. I bought this one to replace the stolen penknife from Crockett’s, Glasgow’s hardware shop of legend, where its predecessor came from. It’s a classic No. 7 with a carbon steel blade. This knife has been my regular day carry for years now. Sharp, simple, just how I like it.
  3. One of a kind. It’s one of a kind because the handle is laminated birch, so there will not be another in the world that looks like this. This is an Opinel No.8, with a stainless steel blade. I bought this from the lovely Mhor in Store, boutique near Balquhidder. It is a lovely reminder of a particularly fun and special holiday.
  4. This is arguably the most precious and the one I’m most frightened to lose. Maybe because I lost it once. I couldn’t find it for a few months, assuming it was in the pocket of a pair of trousers or a bag, tucked away somewhere. I found it again, completely by accident one day, by one of my favourite river waterfall showers. I was so happy to find it, slightly more weathered than when I last saw it. It was a gift from a special person, so to lose it forever would have been heartbreaking. It isn’t replaceable. There are only 100 of these knives in existence. It is a Finisterre exclusive, their first edition knife. Mine is number 021/100. Produced in collaboration with Sheffield’s Joseph Rodgers & Sons, it has two blades, a standard knife blade and a second that acts as anything from a tin opener to a screwdriver to a surfboard fin key.

I’m an accessories kind of guy. Where I live, penknives are a useful every day carry, an essential accessory. There is no reason why essential can’t be stylish.

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