According to the late Japie Steyl, school captain in 1927, the Grey handshake originated in 1922 and became general practice in 1924.

In 1565 the king of France, Charles IX ordained that each master knife maker affix an emblem on the blade of his knives in order to guarantee the originality and quality of his workmanship. Master knife maker Joseph Opinel chose as his emblem the Crown Hand: the right hand, called the benevolent hand, with three fingers raised and two fingers tucked in and a crown under the hand. This is depicted on the coat of arms of the village of St. Jean-de-Maurienne.

Since the 6th century, the village cathedral had a shrine containing three fingers of the hand of Saint John the Baptist. These fingers were brought back from Alexandria in Egypt by Thécle, a young girl of the village. The crown is an indication that the person was someone of royalty.

It is possible that a knife or sword, with the Opinel emblem, could have been brought to Bloemfontein by a soldier serving in France during the First World War.