Eberhard Schaaf Goldhamster 8" chef's knife
This was my first "serious" knife. Back in the 20th century, when the internet was still black and white and purchasing decisions required more guesswork and leaps of faith, I got seduced by some ad copy. And it looked more awesome than the usual Solingen suspects.
In many respects, it's not. As far as I can tell it uses the same steel as all the other German knives, and is made the same way. The double bolster makes for some serious bling, but adds a ton of weight (my 8" knife weighs about 310g). At first I admired that the handle perfectly balanced the blade at the bolster. Now I feel that this doesn't matter; my favorite knives are wa-handled and don't attempt any kind of balance. And it has a big, dumb bolster, to keep you from sharpening it properly.
But in some respects, I think it's pretty awesome. What it lacks in nimbleness and cutting ability it makes up for in burliness. The blade is about 4mm thick at the spine above the heel. It takes a lot of abuse. Since I now use a very thin gyuto as my main knife, the Goldhamster takes over the heavy stuff.
I use it to chop chocolate, to take the heads off of chickens and fish and ducks, and to cut woody herbs that sometimes ding the blade of my laser. I use it to cut leeks (there's always at least one grain of residual sand that likes to take a bite out of a thin blade). And I can hand it to house guests and not worry.
Also in the awesome category, the fit and finish is really in a category beyond what I've seen in other production knives. And it has a logo of a hamster on it. Please excuse my crappy phone photography; it doesn't do justice to either the workmanship or the hamster. But there he is. No one messes with the golden hamster.
It met its match once when I took cut through the neck of a turkey. That put a giant ding in the blade, and I didn't know how to do the repair with that honkin' bolster in the way. So I sent it off to Dave Martell, who repaired it, put on new bevels that are even more durable than the factory ones, and then ground down the bolster—not all the way, but enough to make the knife sharpenable. Thank you Dave!
What I love about this kind of knife is that while it's never really sharp, it's trivially easy to keep it sharp enough for the tasks I use it for. I have big old F-dick coarse, chrome-plated honing steel stashed away for this knife and my Forschner boning knife. A few whacks and they're as good as new (assuming you didn't just try to guillotine a 16-lb turkey). Good as new, of course, is nothing to brag about here, but it's pretty good!
Would I recommend this knife? Probably not. Unless you're a collector who likes to have lots of less-than-usual stuff, or you find a deal on a used one. The newer models (if you can find one—not sure if they're even imported to the states anymore) have been improved with a cut-away bolster. And they make an extra-fancy version with hardwood scales. But otherwise, if I were starting over and wanted a heavy duty knife, I'd go Japanese and get a burly and not-too-expensive gyuto. If I wanted a Euro knife I'd get a Messermeister.
(Goldhamster with its big brother, that's barely more than half its weight)
Here's someone else's closeup of the coveted hamster logo.
Made perfect by the baby-blue shag carpet background.
The Goldhamsters by Schaaf aren't made anymore. The mark has been sold in 2004 to Solicut.
Ahhh, interesting, thanks. It looks like Solicut bought Schaaf. And they improved the knife by trimming the bolster.
Heyyy, nice to see a fellow Goldhamster owner, and across the Atlantic, too. The Goldhamster was the first knife I bought when I started to develop an interest in cooking. I guess I was was around 22 or so, that means the knife is more than 20 years old (and god knows how long it had been sitting of the shelf of my local hardware and household good store before that). At the time it cost about 120 Deutsche Mark, which was insanely expensive compared to the knives we used to work with in my household. Much shaking of heads ensued when I told my family about the price!
My version is the large 9''/23 cm version. Unfortunately the markings and the hampster on the blade are all gone, because I had a professional thinning, regrinding and polishing job performed on it by one of the best bladesmiths in Germany and worldwide, Jürgen Schanz. Let me just say its performance now was more than worth sacrificing the hamster.
Here you can see it sitting (or rather hanging) among its fellows from my Euro chef's knife collection:
Nice! If someone ground the silk-screening off of mine, I might be forced to compensate with a hamster tattoo.