From the 16th century to the beginning of the 20th century, the "Tzscherper", a fixed knife with a straight edge, was an indispensable tool of the ore miners.
From the 16th century to the beginning of the 20th century, the "Tzscherper", a fixed knife with a straight edge, was an indispensable tool of the ore miners. At the time when the miners only had hammers and picks (chisels) at their disposal for extracting the ore and as well as for tunnelling galleries and new mine tunnels, it was mainly used to trim the shaft (handle) to which the pick was attached, in order to fit a new one. In a single shift a miner wore out the points on 10 to 12 of these chisels. The knife was also used to check the quality of wood intended for use in the mine, to see whether it was "healthy", i.e. usable. Furthermore, in the shafts, which could only be climbed using ladders, every 7 or 8 m there was a resting platform on which a number of reserve rungs were stored. If a miner broke a rung, he was under obligation to replace it with a new one immediately. For this he also needed the Tzscherper. On this subject, the following stipulation from a regulation of the Mining Authority in Clausthal from the year 1850 states:
"Since not every miner carries a regular or pointed axe, every miner who enters the mine must, without exception, provide himself with his Tzscherper in a good sheath, so that if he is temporarily without an axe, he can still manage to renew a ladder rung with the help of this knife."
It goes without saying that the miners also used this knife when eating their bread in the mine. This is how the custom of the "Tzscherper Breakfast" came about. It was and still is practised today on festive occasions such as the Miners' Festival.
This explanation may inspire you to try using the Tzscherper to keep alive this simple but nevertheless long-established custom, also in a small circle of fellow "miners".