“Fokos” has not exactly been a common cutlery term in this country until fairly recently. We can probably thank Hungarian born custom knifemaker Joseph Szilaski for bringing it to everyone’s attention a few years ago. Basically, a fokos is a sturdy walking stick with a small axe head serving as a handle on the upper end. Hungarians and other eastern Europeans are said to have carried these dual-purpose sticks while traveling as far back as the 13th century. It provided wayfaring pilgrims and itinerate pack traders both a handy camp tool and a basic means of self-defense while traveling.

hoffman-hawkin-stick-2.gifVery little information is available on the actual history of the fokos, but from what I could find, the head could have been brass, cast iron or steel. While the first two materials might not be ideal for wood chopping, they would certainly make effective blunt-edged clubs. One reference also states it was common for the “lower classes” to carry the head in a pocket so as to not draw attention from the authorities. The axe head could then be quickly mounted on the walking stick when the situation dictated it.

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