Renzo Fantoni, founder of the influential Italian knife company Fantoni Knives, passed away last week at the age of 86.
These days, ask any knife person where the best knives in Italy are made and they’ll tell you Maniago. Fantoni helped to establish the city’s reputation for high end, modern cutlery, establishing Fantoni Knives in 1980. Prior to getting into the cutlery game, Fantoni’s background was in mechanical engineering and metallurgy; he worked on the turbines installed in power stations, among other projects. It’s the kind of background that leads to an understanding of, and deep appreciation for, enduring tools, with high quality materials and designs.
Fantoni Knives was never as prolific as LionSteel or Fox, but their releases were up to the same lofty standards we expect from Italian production cutlery. It also boasted a corral of international collaborators that any knife company, of any size, would envy. The roll call of those who have contributed designs to Fantoni includes Chris Reeve, Bill Harsey, Tommaso Rumici, and Dmitry Sinkevich. Many Fantoni releases have cult classic appeal, and the Dweller in particular (designed by Renzo’s son Massimo) garnered a rave review from early influential knife reviewer Stefan Schmalhaus.
Fantoni’s company closed its doors in 2019, but the knives are still sought after on the secondary market and well-loved by those who own them.