Objects Database

Bonaiti karabiners

Accession Number


Object Name

Bonaiti karabiners




Hermione Cooper

Accession Date


Brief Description

Bonaiti karabiners with snap links.




11(l) x 6(w) x 1(d) cms

Number Of Objects


Inscription Description

On one side reads "BONAITI CASSI( ) ITALY" "CASSI( )" is inside an elongated circle. On other side reads "CARICO MINIMO ROTTURA KG 1800" Trademark in small rectangle.





Object Production Place



The word karabiner is derived from the German karabinerhaken which literally means 'musket hook' - the karabiner bit being what we would nowadays call a carbine or rifle. The early forms of this clip device were used by the military for clipping rifle or musket slings over the shoulder allowing for speedy attachment or more importantly, detachment in time of need. The French word for karabiner is mousequeton meaning musket. The original karabinerhaken seems to have been around from at least the early 1800's though it wasn't until the 1930's that they were adapted for use in the mountains for clipping ropes. The Kong company which was owned by the Italian Bonaiti family had been making musket hooks since the 1830's and were one of the first to produce the mountaineering version, a couple of which we see here dating from around 1950. Quite where these two came from we are not sure - lots of folk gave lots of stuff to Mick Tighe in his early collecting days, and these were probably in a box with a pile of other gear.
Like all karabiners from this era, these ones are made of steel and seem to have been manufactured in conjunction with Ricardo Cassin, a well known Italian alpinist of the times. It was, and still is, common for equipment manufacturers to produce gear with a famous mountaineers name attached which helps sell the product and line the pockets of both parties!
Rather confusingly we have another famous Italian mountaineer called Walter Bonatti, whose name is often confused with Bonaiti karabiners when there is actually no direct connection, and having used the brand name Bonaiti for 140 + years the company changed it to Kong in 1977.

Acquisition Date


Condition Check Date



Spectrum : UK Museum documentation standard, V.3.1 2007



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