Although an original, Eloi Pernet's Coin Cigar Cutter is hardly "nouveau riche." Available through Eloi since the 1930s, the coin cutter makes every cent count.
The cutters are created using coins from the United States, France, Italy and Switzerland. Some are old money -- numbered and created from casts of a collectors' coin now out of circulation, such as the French Louis XV coin or the Italian Scudo. Other models are made from legal currency, such as an American silver dollar or Swiss franc. In either case, the process is the same: a coin is slit in two with a laser, a surgical-steel cigar-cutting mechanism is inserted, and the coin is bound back together. The cutter can also be custom-made for any coin.
"When you buy this cutter, you are buying it for life," said Selim Nahas of Robert & Miles Inc., the U.S. distributor for Eloi. " We have people calling in for repairs to their cutters that their grandfathers gave them."
A small team of specialized laborers handcraft the pieces in Nogent, France. Only about 16 people are able to build the cutters, said Nahas, and each piece takes about three hours to make, producing approximately 200 per year worldwide.
This type of work is an Eloi tradition. It began with company founder Charles Louis Eloi Pernet, a third-generation knife maker from Biesles, France. He established Eloi Pernet in 1920, and by 1925 he had become well known, making products for Hermès, Dupont, Vuitton and Dunhill. Pernet intended to make a product with intricate detail and great care on a small scale, said Nahas. It was not until later that the products were spread out over a larger market, but still production is kept small by today's standards.
The Coin Cigar Cutter retails for $500 and can be purchased from fine retail tobacco and accessory stores.