Serrated or "toothed" Sickles
The genealogy of sickles with serrated edge reaches back to the Stone Age, when individual pieces of flint were first attached to a “blade body” of wood or bone. (Interestingly, the majority among the well-documented specimens made later of bronze are smooth-edged.) Nevertheless, teeth have been cut with hand-held chisels into iron, and later steel-bladed sickles for a long time. In many countries on the African continent, Central and South America as well as the Near, Middle and Far East this is still the case in the regions within these large geographies where the traditional village blacksmith remains alive and well.
England appears to have been the first to develop the industrial process of serration-making. Then, by 1897, the Redtenbacher Company of Scharstein, in Austria—at that time the largest scythe maker in the world—designed its own machine for the job, becoming the only Austrian source of serrated sickles. In 1942, its recently acquired sister company Krenhof also began to produce these. In 1970, a year before the sickle production branch of Redtenbacher was sold to Ethiopia, they were still making 1.5 million of the serrated sickles per year, predominately for market in Africa and Latin America. There were other enterprises in Austria, of course, who produced the smoothed-edged sickles for centuries. The last of the classical "round" versions were forged up until the mid- eighties and machined up until 2002.
While in Central Europe the smooth-edged sickle—either forged or machined (alternately referred to as "stamped") - has been the only one used (and in many regions the only one known), the Iberian Peninsula, Sicily and Greece long had fans of both camps. The many small family-owned enterprises in what is now Italy, Portugal and Spain produced sickles in both versions, with the teeth on the serrated models being hand-cut, one at a time, up until cca mid 20 century. The Falci Co. of Italy (established in 1921 as a union of several formerly independent forges) developed its own unique method of industrial scale serrated sickle production in 1965. Their innovations, which included tapered blade cross section (thicker at the back - for strength - gradually thinning towards the edge - for ease of penetration) were later adopted by Europe’s largest sickle producer in Spain as well as, more recently, a company in India.
Today, Italy remains the world’s first regarding sickle quality, and China regarding numbers produced per year. The present global demand is about 75% serrated to 25% smooth-edged, and the majority (of both types of sickles combined) is used in cereal harvesting. Progressive developments in agricultural technology notwithstanding, a significant portion of 21st century Earth's dwellers would perish if millions of sickles were still not swung each season in an effort to procure "the daily bread".
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