ME FECIT SOLINGEN –Solingen made me. These three words were engraved into sword blades all over the world. In the Middle Ages Solingen began to make a reputation for itself as a “weapons factory” of European rank. Its most prominent customers were General Wallenstein (during the 30 Years War) and King Philipp II of Spain, and its forges and workshops were driven by water from the River Wupper. Other products were soon added, amongst which were knives and cutlery, scissors, pocket knives and razor blades. Solingen became the “town of blades“. From the start there were strict divisions of labour for every product and there were even specialists for every stage of the work. These old-established craft traditions continued right into the mechanical production of the 20th century.
The products of this unique cutlery industry can be seen today in the German Blade Museum in the Solingen suburb of Gräfrath. The exhibits include every sort of sword and dagger whether they were made as shining weapons or merely for representative purposes, scissors in every variation, medical instruments, knives for knife-throwers, Renaissance and Baroque cutlery, right down to the latest designer creations. In a word visitors can expect to be able to see the most comprehensive collection of cutlery in the world here! Background information and connections are effectively presented. A plain agricultural dinner table is placed directly alongside a magnificently laid aristocratic table. In addition there is a traditional tin works in the lower ground floor of the museum showing how pewter tableware was made. The most famous local example of such tableware is the so-called “Dröppelminna”, a pewter coffee pot which might be said to symbolise the whole of the Bergisch Land. The exhibits in the museum range from the Bronze Age to the present day and can be traced back to a collection of old weapons and cutlery which was originally put together to show students at a Solingen Technical College model examples of metal design. Since then the collection has grown continually thanks to purchases, gifts and donations. In 1954 the collection was officially taken into the newly-opened German Blade Museum in the former Gräfrath town hall. In 1991 the museum moved to its final destination in the imposing buildings of the old Gräfrath Augustine monastery.