This very slim but enormous folding knife (about 16” open), known as a Navaja, is a possibly the most famous knife of Spain. It is an Estillette (“stylet”, “stiletto”). The form shown is a type from the Andujar region. The grip is made of brass and horn from the bull. A simple catch locks the blade in the open position. The catch must be raised to fold the knife. This Navaja is single-edged but double-edged versions were equally popular. The blade is exceptionally sharp.
The Navaja stylet was in vogue during the 19th century but its origins are much older. It was used as early as the 16th century, possibly the 15th. The style of the navaja has remained very consistent across different regions almost up to the present day.
Although the Navaja is a humble weapon, it gained stature in the 19th century when its use was described in a fencing manual. All possible uses of the weapon in hand-to-hand combat were described, including throwing it. The latter use was “most exclusively for sailors.”
James Loriega in his book Sevillian Steel writes,
Navajas crossed the hands and drew the blood of soldiers and sailors, rogues and ruffians, and diplomats and aristocrats both in and out of Spain's borders. The use of the navaja fostered a mystique, not only from Seville's back streets, but also from the seedy waterfronts of Barcelona, and the cosmopolitan promenades of Madrid. Regardless of their original intent, the navaja represented the ultimate means for resolving disagreements, misunderstandings, and problems that arose in dockside bars, darkened alleys, and an untold number of places not found in any guidebook; places where there is little reliance on legal recourses; places where you either catch a glimpse of steel and live-or miss it and never know why you died."
This Navaja Estillette was manufactured by Cudeman of Spain.