Born in 1856 and raised in Smiljan (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but today part of modern-day Croatia), Nikola Tesla received an advanced education in engineering and physics in the 1870s and gained practical experience in the early 1880s working at Continental Edison in the new electric power industry.
In 1884, he emigrated to the United States where became an inventor, electrical engineer and mechanical engineer. Dubbed by many as “the man who invented the 20th Century”, Tesla was a brilliant scientist and engineer who earned more than 700 patents for his inventions.
While Tesla’s work also led to advances in numerous other fields, he is most famous for developing the alternating current.
Early in his career, Tesla worked as an engineer at Thomas Edison’s Manhattan headquarters, impressing Edison with his diligence and ingenuity, but quit after a year over a disagreement about promised bonuses.
After an unsuccessful attempt to start his own Tesla Electric Light Company and a brief stint digging ditches for $2 a day, Tesla found backers to support his research into alternating current. In 1887 and 1888 he was granted more than 30 patents for his inventions.
Tesla was hired by George Westinghouse, the inventor who had launched the first AC power system near Boston and was Edison’s major competitor in the “Battle of the Currents”. He licensed Tesla’s patents for his AC motor and gave him his own lab.
Tesla continued to compete with Edison, buoyed by Westinghouse’s royalties. He struck out on his own again, but Westinghouse was forced by his backers to renegotiate Tesla’s contract, relinquishing his royalty rights.
In the 1890s Tesla invented electric oscillators, meters, improved lights and the high-voltage transformer known as the Tesla coil. He also experimented with X-rays, gave short-range demonstrations of radio communication two years before Guglielmo Marconi and piloted a radio-controlled boat around a pool in Madison Square Garden. Together, Tesla and Westinghouse lit the 1891 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago and partnered with General Electric to install AC generators at Niagara Falls, creating the first modern power station.
In 1895 Tesla’s New York lab burned, destroying years’ worth of notes and equipment. Tesla relocated to Colorado Springs for two years, returning to New York in 1900. He secured backing from financier J.P. Morgan and began building a global communications network centered on a giant tower at Wardenclyffe, on Long Island, but funds ran out and Morgan withdrew his financing.
Tesla lived his last decades in a New York hotel, working on new inventions even as his energy and mental health faded. He spent his final years feeding—and, he claimed, communicating with—the city’s pigeons, one in particular, almost entirely white.
Tesla died in his room on January 7, 1943. Later that year the U.S. Supreme Court voided four of Marconi’s key patents, belatedly acknowledging Tesla’s innovations in radio. The AC system he championed and improved remains the global standard for power transmission.
Nikola Tesla Folding Knife Collection
The Nikola Tesla Folding Knife collection stands as a lasting tribute to the life, energy and passion of one of the world’s greatest minds. 86 pieces of each colorway will be produced (one for each year of Nikola Tesla’s extraordinary life).
Hand-crafted in solid Sterling Silver and Stainless Damascus, the Tesla collection incorporates elements of the inventor’s inventions thoughts and ideas. Nikola Tesla’s signature is prominently displayed in high relief on the knife scale, along with a rotating magnetic field and the symbol for Alternating Current. The Tesla Coil is seen in the background, engraved in low relief. High relief electricity juxtaposes a low relief X-Ray of Tesla’s hand in the low relief coil in the background. Appropriately, Tesla’s beloved white pigeon is featured in white enamel.
The Nikola Tesla Collection continues in the spirit of artistic mastery and the tradition of Old World craftsmanship by combining the centuries-old technique of Guilloché with the art and expertise of Hard Enamel.
Using a mortar and pestle, a composition of glass, water and metal oxides is ground for hours by hand. When settled, the water is removed, leaving the fine paste that is the basis for hard enamel. A quill is then used to apply each coat of the mixture to the surface of the metal, ensuring that the entire guilloché area is completely covered in enamel. The components are then fired in a furnace at temperatures exceeding 1,000° F, fusing the enamel to the metal and forming a layer of glass.
After cooling, the pieces are manually ground with a diamond file, restoring their proper shape and surface. This tedious process is repeated at length until the level of enamel reaches the depth required to cover the peaks and fill the valleys of each intricate guilloché pattern. When the final stages of firing are completed, the pieces are polished and buffed, revealing the velvet finish of translucent hard enamel.
Production of translucent hard enamel demands the highest levels of patience, experience and skill. A five-year apprenticeship is required to ensure that the highest levels of quality will be met in each individual Collection piece.
The Blade on the Sea Turtle Folding Knife is forged using Swedish Stainless (Damasteel DS93X) Damascus and a diamond is set in each side of the silver thumb stud.
Nikola Tesla Writing Instrument also Available