The Mother Of All Swiss Army Knives


The Mother of All Swiss Army Knives, a multi-tool created by John S. Holler in Germany sometime around 1880. The knife predates the Swiss Army Knife, which started production about a decade later in 1890.

Check this out…

The multi-tool has 100 functions, including every type of blade imaginable.

It has a serrated blade, dagger blades, shears, scissors, an auger, a corkscrew, saws, a lancet, button hook, cigar cutter, pens and pencils, mirror, and a straight razor.

You can even use this tool to tune a piano, as it has a piano tuner built in.

It even has a butter knife so you can butter your toast.

But that’s not all…

This is a multi-tool you can actually bring to a gunfight! (laws permitting ;) )
It has a fully functioning .22 caliber five-shot revolver.

And as if that’s not enough, the handle-covers of the multi-tool open up to hold picks, tools, and even mini folding knives.






Photos: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History

A multi-tool is an excellent prep item and they come in a wide array of sizes and functions. While the one shown above may be a bit over-the-top (an understatement) for 1880, today we have the luxury of choosing almost any combination of what we want…


  1. Ken,
    That’s more than a multi-tool or knife, that a work art. I am just sitting here admiring the work that he put into this. The detail, the scroll work and etching. And done all without a computer, laser cutting thing-a-ma-gig. I would expect every piece was probably hand made and hand fitted. WOW

    And that is when watches and clocks were also a marvel in craftsmanship.

  2. Jersey, you pegged the assessment, for sure. Beautiful.

    Something else, though, and it may just be age, but it does seem as if the various blades have actual wear on them. Even a straight razor (I think), which has chips in it.

    All in all, it seems this was a serious tool for a working man.

    1. I don’t know the exact size, it’s fairly large though – if you look at the picture which shows the 5-shot revolver, you can visualize the size of a .22 cartridge…

    2. The article states length as 9 inches/22.86 centimeters. Not the best in size documentation but it’s a start.

  3. When I saw the title of the article, I expected to see the Swiss Champion model. This beats everything Victorinox makes. I wonder how heavy it is? Anyway, I am a huge advocated of Swiss Army Knifes. I have owned a bunch of them over the years. I like Victorinox over Wenger. My favorite model is the Huntsman. It is not too large so that it weighs down your pocket. It has the right tools, large & small blades, saw, scissors, can & bottle opener, small & large screwdrivers, awl with sewing eye, corkscrew, toothpick and tweezers.

    1. Ditto on the Victorinox Swiss Army Knife. My preferred model is the Climber. The saw has been particularly useful, have used it many times; in particular, after hiking about a mile to cut a Christmas tree in very cold weather, discovered that we had left the bow saw in the car… cut the perfect tree with the saw on my Swiss Army Knife. Needless to say, the other blades, including the corkscrew, have come in handy many times. Finally, Victorinox has a very generous repair/replacement policy that I have used twice, once when the scales came off after many years of service (they replaced the knife) and once when the main blade broke (they gave me a discount on a replacement knife). A very fine knife and a very fine company!

  4. When TSHTF and your planning on hitting the wood tools will be very important in survival. I have a small toolbox ready to go. In it I have woodworking tools like planers, wood files and chisels, saws etc. I don’t expect to be working on motors because once the gas is gone a truck will be worthless anyway. With the tools I have put back I can in effect do anything in the carpentry field using nothing but old hand tools that need no electric power to operate. Before electric power was thought of people has been using these non power tools to build homes so why not buying some of these tools and putting them back for when TSHTF? Granted my toolbox is heavy but it can be tossed in my truck and taken with me. I would rather “have it and not need it than need it and not have it”.

    1. Woodworking tools! You’ve got it nailed (no pun intended)! It’s back to basics after the collapse…

  5. I am right with Wildbill and you Ken. Back to basics pretty soon. This last generation, unfortunately has been depended on computers. The people with skill trades at that point will prosper?

    Thanks for the post Ken

  6. Crazy deal. It’s got to be something made for a very select few customers who are willing to pay vast sums for something with no actual practical value, but expresses an over-the-top level of workmanship. I qualify for that, except for the money part.

  7. Copy and pasted from the ‘9wows’ site. I coudln’t find it in the museum mentioned below:
    It has 100 different tools. In addition to any kind of blade you could possibly want to use, it also has such useful items as a piano tuning lever and a revolver.

    The tool was made for display in Holler’s store and weighs 10 pounds. It’s currently owned by the Smithsonian who has it on display at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

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