The Opinel knife was invented by Joseph Opinel in 1890 in Savoie as a simple working man's knife. From 1901-1903, Joseph Opinel built his first factory in Pont de Gévoudaz and produced a machine for mass production of the knife's wooden handles.
By 1909, Opinel had registered his first trademark for the Opinel knife, choosing the main couronnée (crowned hand) as his emblem. A few years later Opinel annual sales were in the hundreds of thousands, and by the start of World War II as many as 20 million knives had been sold.
The company is still run by the Opinel family, and Opinel sells around 15 million knives annually. A museum dedicated to the Opinel knife is located at Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne.