"Made in Sheffield" 1830-1930, A golden age ?

Discussion in 'Traditional Folders and Fixed Blades' started by wellington, Dec 15, 2009.

  1. Mike Robuck

    Mike Robuck Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Thanks Duncan and Jack. It's a nice big jack, but as others have said, the small knives really show off the workmanship the most. Looking forward to your pictures Duncan.
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  2. LongBlade

    LongBlade

    326
    May 8, 2015
    Hey Mike - I love that big IXL jack and the stag :thumbsup: - if I understood correctly reading the Sheffield Exhibition book, it was interesting to me that the authors noted finely pebbled stag was preferred whereas for years I was under the impression that the gnarlier the stag the better (not true I guess :eek:)... anyway given the choice of the 2 knives which would be tough I will say for me that small IXL whittler with original box is a stunner and a gem :thumbsup: :cool: :thumbsup:...
     
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  3. Jack Black

    Jack Black Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 2, 2005
    Another beauty Mike, and it's great that you have the box :thumbsup:
     
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  4. Jack Black

    Jack Black Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 2, 2005
    A few by Joseph Rodgers :thumbsup:

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  5. Jack Black

    Jack Black Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 2, 2005
    I came across another Mappin & Webb Penknife.

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  6. Jack Black

    Jack Black Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 2, 2005
    Bearing in mind the previous discussion, I thought this might be of interest. Before he was killed in WW1, my great-grandfather was a foreman at the firm, and his brother also worked with him.

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  7. herder

    herder Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 24, 2007
    Will Power, very nice fruit knife.

    Jack, Great information regarding some stainless history which inspired me to go back and reread a few chapters from the book, "100 Years in Steel / Firth - Brown Centenary 1837 - 1937".
    While it didn't mention that some stainless steel had slipped out to a few cutlers prior to WWI, it did state that soon after developing that steel, it all went right into the war effort. Having worked with stainless a little bit, I have no doubt that the cutlers were not initially very keen to work with it as you mentioned. Few materials ruin a file or dull a drill bit as fast as stainless.

    LongBlade, very elegant sterling whittler by Mappin & Webb. As you mentioned, Mappin & Webb was indeed a premier company which produced fine cutlery every bit as good as Rodgers or Wostenholm.
    Unfortunately, knives from that company are far and few between.

    Mike R., two beautiful exhibition quality folders by Wostenholm, a treat to see.

    Jack, a great grouping of Joseph Rodgers folders, and a wonderful cased Thomas Ward as well. Thanks for all the pictures!!!

    Enclosed is a large Mappin & Webb horseman's model sitting on a factory catalog dated to 1900.

    BF Mappin Webb Horseman on Catalog .jpg
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2020
  8. Jack Black

    Jack Black Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 2, 2005
    Thank you my friend :) I have just been trying to find my Harry Brearley book, which contains a whole load of stuff he wrote for the Sheffield press, and is a great resource, but it's an awkward format, and I think it's going to take me a while to find o_O I think he would be very much at variance with the official Firth-Brown history :rolleyes: That's a beautiful knife, and I bet the catalogue is an absolute treasure trove too :cool: I better go and have another look for that book! :rolleyes: :D :thumbsup:

    Edit - Found a whole bunch of books on steel and steel-makers, but not the one I'm looking for! o_O For anyone unfamiliar with Harry Brearley, you might want to download this PDF here :thumbsup:
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2020
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  9. herder

    herder Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 24, 2007
    I hope you find the Harry Brearley book, Jack. Now you've got me going through some old books as well, and I came across one I hadn't read in years. It's "Three Centuries of Sheffield Steel" which focuses on Marsh Brothers & Co.

    LongBlade, I had to edit my earlier wording to you from "stainless" to "sterling" in referring to your Mappin & Webb. So much talk of stainless threw me off. :)
    Enclosed is a catalog illustration of a fantastic Mappin & Webb four blade model which was offered in sterling (plain and engraved) and also in two grades of solid gold.

    BF Mappin & Webb Sterling Senator .jpg
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2020
  10. Jack Black

    Jack Black Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 2, 2005
    I did eventually! :D But not before I'd ordered another couple of Harry Brearley books! :rolleyes: His account of how he was treated by Firth's would make just about anyone angry. If folks would like me to include a few quotes from a very lengthy article he wrote for 'The Sheffield Independent' in 1924, I'd be willing to do so. Wow, what an incredible piece, a work of art :cool: :thumbsup:
     
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  11. herder

    herder Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 24, 2007
    Glad to hear that you found the book, and I'd love to hear any quotes or information from it!!!
     
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  12. Jack Black

    Jack Black Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 2, 2005
    I'll try to get on that one on Sunday my friend! :) :thumbsup:

    I'll throw in this big George Butler Sheepsfoot, by way of a knife contribution, until then ;) :D :thumbsup:

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  13. Will Power

    Will Power Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 18, 2007
    @herder Impressive Horseman's Knife, look how straight that Spear opens out from the frame and all those implements intact, then there's the Stag...plus this is a knife located very much in the correct era being well prior to 1930. Workmanship shows it, can you say how big it is please?

    It's an early c20th counterpart of the rather unwieldy Victrinox multi tool thing I keep in the car, only used the blade and bottle opener on it, thankfully.:) The Equine version is far more aesthetic!

    Regards, Will
     
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  14. danno50

    danno50 Gold Member Gold Member

    929
    Apr 15, 2008
    Lot's of history and great knives posted this week by David Schott, Jack, Lee, Augie, herder and Mike! A few I keep going back to look at are Augie's beautiful fruit knife, Lee's silver handled Mappin and Webb, Jack's Chesterman pearl pen with the diagonal flutes which continue through the bolsters, Mike's two IXLs and herder's Mappin and Webb horseman's knife.
    I have this T. Ellin horseman's knife which I believe is from before 1930, if not I apologize. Dimitri, over at AAPK, identified the handles as pressed horn.

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  15. Campbellclanman

    Campbellclanman Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Pressed Horn it looks to be my friend- that's a Very nice Knife Dan! LOVE that early - Heavy Font of the Stamps!
     
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  16. Will Power

    Will Power Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 18, 2007
    Very interesting, I've heard of pressed stag before but not horn. Must have been a complicated process, the art of which is now likely lost.

    Thanks, Will
     
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  17. Jack Black

    Jack Black Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 2, 2005
    Very nice indeed :) :thumbsup:

    Horn was used extensively on British military issue clasp knives, such as these large WW1 patterns. Joseph Rodgers at the top, Wostenholm (with broken tin-opener below). I can't read the stamp on the one on the right! Certainly far from fancy, but an interesting piece of history :thumbsup:

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  18. Jack Black

    Jack Black Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 2, 2005
    Here's a small Horseman's Knife by John Watts. I only own two, and this is the better of them :rolleyes:

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  19. Camillus

    Camillus Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 3, 2015
    Stunning! Just an amazing knife
     
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  20. Jack Black

    Jack Black Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 2, 2005
    As promised, here are some quotes from Harry Brearley’s article for ‘The Sheffield Independent’ newspaper, originally published on February 2nd 1924. This is the first part, and I'll continue to post further excerpts:

    “This story describes a relationship between a man and a rich manufacturing concern...I feel that I am entitled to tell it after listening quietly for nine years to other versions which were partly imaginary, and otherwise consisted of selected fragments.”

    “I began work at Thomas Firth & Sons Ltd Late in 1882...as a cellar-lad...Towards the end of 1883, still being only twelve...I was chosen...to wash bottles and generally keep things clean in the chemical laboratory.”

    “My father was a steel-maker at Firth’s for about forty years...He was not interested in intellectual life...He expected his children to be equally complacent and equally respectful towards their superiors. He would have thrashed his sons had he heard them speak disrespectfully of Firth’s, and in consequence of his example I grew up with an inherited faith in their goodness and reliability.”

    “In 1901, having acquired some skill as an analyst, I left Firth’s to start a chemical laboratory...Two or three years later I was engaged by the managing director of Firth’s works at Riga as chemist...I went to Russia at the beginning of 1904, and sfter a year became Works Manager...”

    “On resigning my appointment in Russia at the end of 1907...I was invited by Firth’s to take charge of a research department...Before discussing with Mr Bernard Firth and Mr Hoyle the terms of the proposed engagement, I was given a draft copy of the terms of agreement on which the appointment was offered. Paragraph 8, relating to such improvement or discoveries as I might make, was the only one about which there was any serious difference of opinion; the puport of it may be gathered from the following extract:

    “‘All such patents, inventions, or improvements shall be the ABSOLUTE PROPERTY of the Company, and shall not be communicated to any other person, firm or company whatsoever.’

    “ I objected very strongly to that clause, and maintained that morally, and perhaps legally, the discoverer was rightly the owner of his discovery. It was then proposed that new facts of commercial value discovered by me, or patents arising there from, should be the joint property of Firth’s and myself. Further, if Firth’s bore the expenses of demonstrating the value of the assumed discovery, cost of patents, etc, they should have the right to work such patents in their own works free of royalty. This incident should be carefully noted, because it shows that Firth’s ideas and mine were not in agreement to begin with, but were brought into agreement by the acceptance of an alternative paragraph, which reads as follows:

    “‘Any new facts relative to the Company’s manufacturers which shall be discovered by Harry Brearley during the period of his engagement and any patents based theron shall be the property JOINTLY of the Company and Harry Brearley in equal proportions. The entire cost of developing such facts and securing patents to cover them shall be borne by the Company. The Company shall, however, have the right to apply, use and exploit such discoveries and inventions in its own factories...free of charge. Any sums of money which may accrue from the sale of licenses or patents rights, whether at home or abroad, shall be divided equally between the company and Harry Brearley.’

    “It has been said that my agreement with Firth’s was badly drawn up. Their solicitors criticised it at a much later date. Personally I did not look for catches and loopholes in the agreement, and if I erred in accepting it, I did so with the best of intentions. My father, as I have said, was a steel-melter at Firth’s, and I had been running about their works two or three years prior to my regular engagement at the age of twelve. I believed they were the soul of honour in matters of this sort, and generous to a fault in interpreting an understanding which had been arrived at. That I may have taken a lawyer’s advice about the agreement never entered my mind. I am satisfied that in the minds of either the chairman or managing director of Firth’s there was no doubt when the agreement was discussed and signed, about the meaning of Paragraph 8. There was also no doubt in anyone’s mind at a later date when it was suggested that the increased possibility of profiting under Paragraph 8 was also quite definite in relation to ‘The Heat Treatment of Tool Steel’. This book was written by me...[at home]...The manuscript was typed and the photographs used as illustration were made at the Brown-Firth research laboratory. According to the latter of Paragraph 8 the Brown-Firth combination was entitled to half the profits arising from the sale of the book. The book was dedicated to Firth’s, and Firth’s actually took half of the profits, which shows they realised the existence of the joint property paragraph quite clearly.”

    “Before leaving this part of the story I should explain that I have an interest in a private metallurgical consulting practice....This business had its manufacturing side, which was looked after by my brother-in-law. By the time I returned from Russia this combined business had extended and become so remunerative that I was in a position to bargain with Firth’s.”
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2020

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