Let me welcome you to Latama.Net!

 
 

This site is dedicated to two things and to two of the most important people in the history of automatic knives... On the one hand, as the title suggests, this is the site of the most storied of Italian switchblades and the men who made it so: Jack Polincovsky, Patrizio Pasquale , and, most of all, the legendary Sam Polk; on the other is Sheldon Levy, creator, editor, and publisher of The Newsletter, the single most important publication in the entire history of automatic knives.

What Walter Halucha has wrought both at this site and in his knife production is truly impressive.  Not only has he resurrected the legendary Latama and provided a source for Italian knives, both original and reproduction, he has given Sam Polk the limelight he so richly deserves.  Sam may not have invented the Italian switchblade, but he did more than any other person to bring it to America and create its cachet as one of the icons of our cultural history.  Sam’s life story - and that of his father - is among the most entertaining and uplifting you’re likely to encounter."

Dan Fuller

  Patrizio Pasquale ; Master craftsman at workbench Manigo Italy late 1940s
                   
       
  Jack Polincovsky;(on right)
Founder of Latama
c.1940
   
 
Teja & Rosa Knifeworks - Maniago Italy c. 1950
left to right: Teja; craftsman, Rosa; craftsman, Sam Polk; son of Latama founder
Jack Polincovsky Latama's founder, Abram Abramovitz; Latam'a sales representive,
Patrizio Pasquale ; Master craftsman
     
               
   
 


The legend began... when, LATAMA, the shortened term for the Latin America Import Export Company, was founded by Jacob (Jack) Polincovsky shortly after the end of WWII. At that time Jack Polincovsky had connections in the garment business and went to Milan Italy to purchase silk and other material. French and the British buyers purchased all the material available. As a result, Jack Polincovsky attended another auction and purchased British surplus knives, English single carbon blade locking knives with plastic checkered handles. (see photo below)

During his trip, Jack Polincovsky learned that the cutlery industry was re-emerging in Maniago, Italy and explored the idea of manufacturing cutlery. Unknowingly, Mr. Polincovsky was unconsciously establishing the foundation of what was to become the greatest of all switchblade-manufacturing consortiums. While there was never really a LATAMA "factory," the home of Patriizio Pasquale (Master Craftsman) who was known for his Golden Hands, served as home base. There, Sam worked with Abraham Abramovits who played a key role in overseeing the production of LATAMA cutlery in Maniago.

In 1947, Sam (Polincovsky) Polk, was given the responsibility of running the company as CEO and traveling salesman for LATAMA. Beginning on Broadway in New York, Sam Polk sold his knives from coast to coast creating the legend that we know today. While LATAMA is primarily known for its switchblades, by 1950 the company had expanded into the promotional products business that included what is reverently and fondly referred to today as Gentlemen Knives.

Maniago craftsmen
Patrizio and Jack

The knife that launched
Latama Cutlery

Grinders at work Maniago c. 1951

This knife was English made by more than one company under contract for the military during WW2. A few examples have been found with the name “Joseph Rodgers and Sons” on the blade, but most are found with no name as was common with many military knives. This model was made specifically for the “Special Armed Forces” and possibly also used by the French Resistance. The large folding blade has a back lock and the small curved blade was designed for slashing the walls of tires. The checkered black handles were either made of Bakelite or Bexoid. Jack Polincovsky bought a surplus of these knives after the war which launched the legendary Latama Cutlery.