What is the definition of "nogent"?

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Ericfg

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I see the term used often but the specifics of "nogent" are a bit hazy. What is the definition?

It's often associated with French made, or styled, knives. Usually there is a hidden tang that sometimes runs through the handle and exits at the butt where it's peaned to secure the handle. Sometimes there is a metal ferule where the handle meets the blade.
I searched wikipedia and came up with about a dozen towns in France called Nogent but that's about it.
Any thoughts?
 
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I see the term used often but the specifics of "nogent" are a bit hazy. What is the definition?

It's often associated with French made, or styled, knives. Usually there is a hidden tang that sometimes runs through the handle and exits at the butt where it's peaned to secure the handle. Sometimes there is a metal ferule where the handle meets the blade.
I searched wikipedia and came up with about a dozen towns in France called Nogent but that's about it.
Any thoughts?
Nogent is a surname/place name in France.
Nogent style refers to a "rat tail" hidden stick tang.
Very common handle construction style for French knives prior to the adoption of full tang styles.

@Benuser probably knows more about these things than anyone. He might have some more to add.
 

Benuser

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Nogent is a surname/place name in France.
Nogent style refers to a "rat tail" hidden stick tang.
Very common handle construction style for French knives prior to the adoption of full tang styles.

@Benuser probably knows more about these things than anyone. He might have some more to add.
Original ones were made of ebony from the colonies, and have an exterior bullet at the end of the rat tail. Often the bullet got lost. They were meant to be easily replaced. They do look solid, but were fragile because of the large drill-hole. The remaining ebony is very thin. From there the need of a virole and the easy replacement. No problem in days where both labour and material were so cheap.
A big advantage of the Nogent is the little weight, allowing a strong forward balance, even with light blades.
They have been produced for the French home market until the sixties.
NOS ones have a truly solid painted birchwood handle.
 

Ericfg

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So where and when did the term first come to use and why? Maybe a manufacturer in a town called Nogent first mass produced that style?
 

Benuser

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It could refer to Nogent in the Haute-Marne department which has a tradition in cutlery until Thiers took it over. But there are tens of places called Nogent and more than one is claiming a cutlery tradition.
Not sure the term was being used before the appearance of the full tang, as there was no other handle.
 

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Some comments from another forum about Nogents in general (and Sabs in particular.)
" the Nogent style was all but completely abandoned after WWII in favor of today's designs, which were far easier to mass produce. "
" No modern company is going to make a Nogent-style knife (blade, bolster and rat-tail tang below the blade are all one piece) fitted with an ebony handle, it is simply far too expensive labour wise. "
Plus a couple of images showing the butt of the knife, the washer, and the peaned tang.
n1.jpg
n2.JPG

I've got an ebay buy in the mail as we speak with some "nogent" tableware (knife and fork, both in this style) that need some repair. That's the other reason I'm asking about nogent.
 

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Nice pickup! And interesting q.

I wonder if @McMan knows anything else about the origin of the term. Or even @sachem allison who looks like he checked in earlier this month...
My impression was that the term originally referenced a town (or possibly a town name used broadly for a small region of production). I'm not sure of the timeline of production there, or when/how broadly the name shifted to refer to a specific handle style as opposed to a specific site of production.

IIRC there might be a quick discussion in the Bernal book "Sharp". (I know there's decent discussion of production in Thiers in that book, at any rate.)
 
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Bernal's book is probably a good lead. This is from their website:

"Nogent style knives are characterized by their one piece wood handles, with a rat tail stick tang extending to the end of the handle and a round steel or aluminum ferrule. ‘Cuisine Massive’ was used to describe the style in Thiers, as Nogent was a rival knife making city."

 

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Bernal's book is probably a good lead. This is from their website:

"Nogent style knives are characterized by their one piece wood handles, with a rat tail stick tang extending to the end of the handle and a round steel or aluminum ferrule. ‘Cuisine Massive’ was used to describe the style in Thiers, as Nogent was a rival knife making city."

"... don't over-polish them with fine Japanese stones, these do better with a coarser edge (equivalent to 1000 Japanese grit stone) and kept up with a fine honing steel."
What a strange advice! As if it was about soft stainless French knives. As we know from old sharpeners in Europe they used to get a highly polished convexed edge. I maintain mine on my finest stones, and they take and hold them very well. Not surprising with the fine structure of the steel.
 

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Funny, the 'cuisine massive' (heavy kitchen) name used by the Nogent people to describe their Thiers rivals, as K-Sabatier mentioned 'acier fondu massif' on their vintages, which simply means forged monosteel, as if their was any other in those days.
 
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Benuser

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"... don't over-polish them with fine Japanese stones, these do better with a coarser edge (equivalent to 1000 Japanese grit stone) and kept up with a fine honing steel."
What a strange advice! As if it was about soft stainless French knives. As we know from old sharpeners in Europe they used to get a highly polished convexed edge. I maintain mine on my finest stones, and they take and hold them very well. Not surprising with the fine structure of the steel.
The only reason for this advice I can imagine is the fear of returns. You can't look into the knife and see how the steel is. Impurities are common with vintages and cause clustering carbides. More than others, French NOS are a bit a lottery. Sheffield and Solingen have always used Swedish ore. The best French makers as well, bought German steel from the same Swedish ore, or, more rarely, from Sheffield. There have been times it wasn't available to them, and they had to use mediocre local steel. Two knives of the same period by the same maker can be very different. Problems become more obvious with a highly polished edge.
 
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