Previous      Next     


The Frosolone story should be about the friendly, wonderful people, but I know this is a knife forum. Let me just say, I walked into Frosolone a stranger, and by the end of the day I was like a member of the family. Stores in Italy close over the lunchtime, but I found one that was open. It was the perfect store to find, and was owned by Rocco Petrunti.

The Petrunti family goes back many generations, and all were master knife makers. The Grandfather of Rocco Petrunti, was also named Rocco Petrunti, and was the master knife maker who trained (as his appretencies) Raimondo Prioletta, Diorio, and Piscitelli. Rocco Sr. also worked with his partner and brother, Felice Petrunti. When I walked into this knife store called, ďRocco Petrunti, Frosolone, Coltelleria ArtigianaleĒ, I immediately saw the Frosolone knife from S.O.I. Roccoís father, Dominico Petrunti, greeted me. Dominicoís generation did not produce any switchblades. He didnít speak English, but I knew enough Italian to ask if it was for sale. Of course the answer was no. He called his daughter in law, (Rocco Jrís wife) to the store because she spoke English. Her name was Ching and was from the Philippines. Without Ching, there would be no information. She was the interpreter for Rocco Jr. and I during my entire stay. When Rocco Jr. arrived, our conversation immediately went to the Frosolone switchblade. (Coltello Ascotto in Italian)

UPDATED: Rocco contacted Fredde10 by email on Sept 4rth to let him know that there were some mistakes on his report. Below is his email to Fredde10. Fredde10 wanted this information added to this section.

ciao Fred,

We have seen history of your travel to Italy and I wanted to give you some corrections. My grandfather Rocco Petrunti learned to make knives from his father Leonardo and his uncle Felice Petrunti. My grandfather never made switchblade but at the end of the year 40's helped his eldest son Leonardo Petrunti in realizing the prototypo of the switchblade ( the I showed you in my workshop) .Then my uncle Leonardo made swicthblades marking CAMPOBASSO. IN the shop of my grandfather used to work for him Raimondo & Nicola Di Iorio one the Di Iorio brothers (the other is Felice). Piscitelli never worked for my grandfather, but Gelsomino Piscitelli who made switchblades was a very close friend of my grandfather Rocco Petrunti. One of the Di Iorio brothers founded the FOLGORE together with other partners .Felice Petrunti was never a partner of the Folgore because he was born a lot earlier than these founders.The multi purpose switchblade that you saw in my shop probably commission by the father in law of my cuosin (Member of the Giordano family who is also in the production of knives) to Gelsomino Piscitelli and brought in the USA, and in return my cousin send it back to Italy as a gift to me. Precisely until the end of the year 60's the knife makers of Frosolone used to handforged all the knives they produced the they started to used the stamped products from Maniago. Hope you can make the corrections specially regarding then parts that PIscitelli is the apprentice of my grandfather.

We are very happy about your article that you made the connections between Frosolone and Maniago as knives producers and sites all the persons connected to these traditions. Hope you are well and your family. Hope to hear from you very soon.

Rocco & Ching

The large 13Ē multiblade was made in Frosolone. It is one of two in the world. The other was sold to a person in Canada, and later bought back for the Frosolone Cutlery museum.

The information we read about these knives being made from Maniago parts is true for most of the knives produced in Frosolone, but the knives with no rear bolster (like the one pictured) were entirely made in Frosolone by Rocco Sr. and his brother Felice Petrunti. They stamped Campobosso on some of the knives because of the towns popularity with scissors, farm tools and other cutlery. Rocco Jr. took me to his shop and showed me the forms used by his grandfather to make the bolsters that were then soldered together.

Rocco said Felice Petrunti always stamped his knives Campobasso, while his grandfather used both stamps. Rocco showed me two knives that needed to be restored stamped Campobasso. Something we must understand is that switchblades were a very insignificant part of their business. On July 6, 1871 (due mostly to the mafia) the law banning switchblades was passed. There were extreme punishments for anyone who carried a knife with a fixed spring. The law also applied to anyone who possesses, sells or exhibits. To this day, the penalty for carrying ANY knife is the same as carrying a gun. (This makes switchblade hunting a little trickier than I had thought.) Rocco told me of a knife store in Campobrasso (Where I was staying.) The store was named Durante. After much pleading, and showing the storeowner pictures from SOA, a few knives appeared from his hiding place. Not the mother load by any means, but at least it was a start. A few button closers and a nice German gravity knife.

I checked out of the Campobrasso hotel and headed for a hotel on Frosolone. There is a Cutlery museum in Frosolone. This was my second day there and it was closed again. A phone call from my new friend Rocco, and the museum manager was standing with us in Roccoís shop. He unlocked the museum and gave me a private tour. Again, Ching (Roccoís wife) was a lifesaver doing the translating for the museum manager and I. Here are just some of the photos. Anyone who is interested in military swords bayonets ECT. Should PM me and Iíll get you those pics when I get the time.

That night I was taken to dinner at one of the best restaurants Iíve ever been to by Rocco and Ching. The lady in the green sweater behind us is the daughter of Diorio, It was a pleasure to meet her also and hear information. At dinner, I was told about Roccoís Grandfatherís apprentices. The names are legends. Diorio, Raimondo Prioletta, and Piscitelli all learned from Rocco Pertrunti. Rocco spoke very highly of Diorio. He said five men, Diorio, Felice Pertrunti, (and three others whose names canít be recalled) formed together to produce FOLGORE knives. Then Rocco asked me if I would like to meet Raimondoís widow. I almost fainted with dreams of finding a goldmine of her late husbands knives. Of course I said yes, but the next morning Roccoís father said he had called her, and she had gotten rid of every knife years ago. So we didnít go to meet her. During dinner I asked Rocco if he ever wanted to make the Frosolone knife. He said yes. I asked if he would make it for me and how much. He said yes, and the price nearly killed me. He said if he made it, it would have to be in the Frosolone style of craftsmanship. The bolsters would take four different forms to punch the four piece bolsters before soldering them into two top bolsters. He said the first time making the forms, they might not be perfect and he would make them again until they were. The button, safety and blade would all be forged instead of soldering pieces together. I told him to go ahead and make it. He is also trying to find me the old original knife. If this works out, I will have the original Frosolone knife made by Rocco Petrunti Sr, and the only new Frosolone knife made by the grandson.

Sunday morning, Rocco said the grandson of Piscitelli was coming over to show me some knives. I canít remember Senior Piscitelliís first name, but of course he is a master knife maker also. He brought only a handful of knives. He said there were about thirty knives hidden at his sisters that were made by his grandfather. They were hidden because years back, police were raiding the homes of knife makers looking for switchblades. When she gets them for him, he will sell me some. I canít wait. Except for the 27Ē knife, these knives look to have parts from Maniago, but Iím no authority. Either way, I canít wait to buy a few directly from the family.

Along with Senior Piscitelli, was another master knife maker whose name I forgot to write down. This man worked for Raimondo Prioletta. He said (almost with a smirk) that he never saw Raimondo make any parts for his switchblades. I showed them the SOI book to point out the different lock tab. I asked if maybe Raimondo made these. The man said no again. This was also confirmed when I asked Frank Beltrame the same lock tab question. He said they were made in Maniago. This was my last day in Frosolone, but the Petruntiís would not let me leave without making lunch for us at there home. I walked into a town a stranger, and left a friend. I must say a huge thanks to Tim Zinser. I took his book everywhere. It never left my backpack. It was the tool that bridged the language barrier. It also let people know I was a collector of antiques, and not some tourist who might wave a knife around and get them in trouble. Rocco Pertrunti asked for a copy, and I ordered one yesterday to send him. Everyone who saw the book immediately took it from my hands and started to leaf through it. Thank you Tim. Your work for this passionate area of collecting helps in ways you donít even know. I have a two-page history of Frosolone and itís Iron industry. Ching Pertrunti translated it into English. Iím trying to have her e-mail me a copy so I donít have to type it in. It describes how Italian knives were greatly influenced by French knives in the 19th century.

Previous      Next