A Norwegian-made 'ostehøvel' (cheese-slicer) of uncertain vintage.

On moving to Sweden my first residence was a ground-floor flat in a white-painted wooden house that was on the shore of a small island (while still being part of the town). The house had its own jetty with a boat moored to it, and there were apple and cherry trees in the garden; but the bathroom was tiny and the upstairs neighbours not light on their feet. My wife and I were there for less than a year before the landlords decided they didn’t want to rent the place any more. When we moved out we helped ourselves to the old cheese-plane (shown above) that had been one of the utensils in the apartment’s kitchen. That was in 2001: I still regularly use it now.

The cheese-plane was patented in 1925 by Norwegian inventor Thor Bjørklund. Only very recently did it dawn on me that my purloined slicer was an ostehøvel manufactured by the company Bjørklund founded. The handle is stamped with the text RUSTFRITTSTÅL (‘Stainless Steel’), while on the blade is a stylized logotype (‘Spar’) and the text RUSTFRI PAT. 64416. ‘Spar’ seems to have been a model name, and Pat. 64416 a 1940 follow-up to the inventor’s original patent.

Cheese-planes are optimal for firmly-textured Nordic cheeses, but also do very well with many of the less crumbly British ones. They’re useful too for slicing cold butter. I later acquired a second one, seemingly of Italian design (‘Giannini’ is the brand-name), but it doesn’t work anything like as well as the old Bjørklund one.