Trade Knives

Cartouche knife handle GRPO 12614
Cartouche Knife Handle - GRPO 12607

NPS photo / John Reed

  • Overview
    • Knives were popular and highly useful items of the Great Lakes fur trade.
    • Generally of French or British manufacture, knives came in two major types.
      • The first type is the case knife (also called a sheath or butcher knife), which usually had a short tang and handle of wood or similar material.
      • The second type is the folding knife, usually of the French "clasp" knife design with wooden handles or the British "jack knife" form with metal handles and horn, bone, or wood "scales" (grips).
    • Whether man or woman, Native or European, one's knife was an important tool; a valued possession; and a common article of trade around the Great Lakes.
    • The following examples from archeological excavations at Grand Portage show some of the variety in form: the wooden handles generally have not survived
  • View Knives further description for Knives photo gallery (31Kb PDF)

Last updated: April 10, 2015

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 426
Grand Portage, MN 55605


(218) 475-0123

Contact Us