Dating cutlery

Don't miss the Cutlery and Scissor-making Fair in June, organised by the brotherhood of the Nogent cutlery basin, which features exhibitors from the local area and further afield, as well as forge demonstrations.

Cutlery means ‘that which cuts’, and can be anything from pocket knives, to scissors, ice skates and scythes.

The first reference to cutlery made in Sheffield was in 1297, when the hearth tax records include Robertus le Coteler – Robert the Cutler.

dating cutlery-62

In the mid-sixteenth century the Earls of Shrewsbury were the Lords of the Manor of Hallamshire, an area which covered the parishes of Sheffield, Ecclesfield, Handsworth, and Eckington and Norton in Derbyshire.

The manorial court set up Cutlers’ Juries to control the cutlery and metalworking trades on their land, which included registering cutlers’ marks, controlling apprenticeships and working practices.

In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries Sheffield and the surrounding area of Hallamshire were in competition with cutlery-making in Thaxted (Essex), Ashbourne (Derbyshire) and Woodstock (Oxfordshire).

The largest manufacturing centre, however, was in London where trade was controlled by the Worshipful Company of Cutlers.

The unmissable Pelletier Centre - Cutlery Museum in Nogent, dedicated to Nogent's cutlery-making heritage, tells the story of this prestigious artistic craft and its production methods through a series of superb collections of knives, scissors and surgical instruments, from the 18th century to the present day.

The place also has exhibits about the work of craftspeople in the old days, and the different stages of the manufacturing process.

It was only after this that the secret to making blister steel was discovered.

Iron was heated with charcoal in a cementation furnace for about a week, which allowed the metal to carbonize.

For this reason, knives, forks, spoons, and serving utensils from these periods tend to be less collectible than handmade pieces, even those from more recent times.

A piece of flatware’s pattern and maker are generally more important than its age.

Once it was taken out it was forge-welded into bars of shear steel; the heating and hammering helping to diffuse the carbon in the steel evenly.

Tags: , ,