The Tiny Pocket Knife That I Will Carry Until I Lose

Illustration for article titled The Tiny Pocket Knife That I Will Carry Until I Lose

I am not a Navy Seal. I don't need a fixed-blade, full-tang pocket sword with a tanto point and a Rockwell factor of 58. I open a lot of boxes and trim my nails with this 50-plus year-old pen knife. It used to be my grandfather's. I'm named after him. He died before I was born.

I found this little knife while cleaning out my family's storage space a year or so ago. It's about the size of a Sharpie's cap when folded, and it fits perfectly in the fifth pocket of my 501s. I take it with me everywhere. I check luggage when traveling so I can bring it with me because, for my purposes, it's perfect. You never know when a pocket knife will come in handy. The world is full of things to cut.

The knife was made by a company called Imperial, which operated out of Providence, RI, between 1916 and 2004. It's nothing fancy, and never was; Imperial made value-priced knives for regular people.


My knife's blades hold their edges extremely well and don't flop closed. They're grimy, too, but I don't care. They were grimy when I got them, and I often find myself wondering what my grandfather did to dirty them up. Did he open a bunch of packages with it, or did he use it at the lumber yard where he worked? Did he free-trim his nails too? Did he have a girlfriend who hated that habit also? Did he take it to WWII with him?

I wonder if he also marveled at how pocketable this knife is, and how the little blade is the perfect weapon to use against pulled-tight packing tape without damaging a box's contents.

Hopefully I'll pass this knife on to one of my kids some day. And hopefully they won't lose it. But no big deal if they do—I have another. Bought it on ebay for $15, and it's in much better shape than this one. They're easy to find. That's part of what makes them so amazing.

Obsessed is about the everyday items we can't live without. If you've got a good one, email it to us at with "obsessed" in the subject line. Thanks!


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"The Tiny Pocket Knife That I Will Carry Until I Lose"

And this is how you will lose it.