This first-class hardcover book is filled with gorgeous full color photographs of some of the very finest knives ever produced in Sheffield, England — the cutlery center of the world in the nineteenth century.
Included are dozens of one of a kind knives from daggers and bowies to fixed and folding dirks, and a wide selection of the world’s best multiblade knives such as sportsman’s knives. Some of the knives have been positively identified as having been exhibited in the 1851 Exhibition at the Crystal Palace or in the Great Exposition in London in 1879.
These “exhibition knives” were never intended to be sold, but were made to be “exhibited” and then retired to the factory as part of the factory collection for posterity. There is very little in the world that has ever been made in which the immediate purpose was for posterity, for culture, for quality, for beauty, for display, for exhibition-and not for sale. These knives speak for themselves; they shout with a loud voice of their birthright. They are the best of the best.
Printed on heavy, high quality coated stock and bound in beige cloth, with the title in gold on front board and on spine, this book is a rare treat. It is not only a reference book for collectors, but has also proven to be a real inspiration to many of today’s talented craftsmen.
CONTRIBUTORS: Bill Claussen, Bill Adams, Brad Watts, Peter McMickle, Terry Moss, Kelly James, and Joe Dennard.
Reviewed by Knife World Staff
“Wow!” That’s what you’ll say when you get your hands on a copy of this new book containing some gems from the glory days of old Sheffield. Bringing to mind The Antique Bowie Knife Book and involving those that created it as well as several other prominent collectors of British cutlery, Sheffield Exhibition Knives assembles together some of Sheffield’s finest wares in a beautiful volume accessible to everyone.
As with the Bowie Book, for most readers this book’s finest feature will be the many beautiful knife photographs reproduced in glorious color for all the world to appreciate. Accompanied by detailed descriptions that truly enhance their worth, the photographs presented herein cover a diverse range of cutlery items from high-quality common folders to extraordinary masterpieces intended strictly for exhibition and a few items that border on the bizarre. Inside, you’ll find a wide variety of finely finished and ornamented gentleman’s knives and other pocket cutlery, many sportsman’s, horseman’s, fisherman’s and barrel knives, several unusual special purpose knives, a number of quill knives and personal grooming knives, an early 19th century cockspur, an exhibition sword cane, a switchblade and a butterfly knife by Rodgers, a few pieces of ornate serving cutlery and of course several bowies and dirks for good measure.
Not just a picture-book, a great feature of this volume are the several chapters that are presented in addition to the beautiful photographs. Included are chapters on “The Great Exhibitions”, “The Old Handcrafted Pocketknife Manufacturing Process”, “Evaluating Quality”, “History of the Joseph Rodgers Firm”, “History of the George Wostenholm – I*XL Firm”, “The Story of the John Blyde / Greenhough Knives”, and “Sheffield Quality”, by such authors as Bernard Levine, Jim Taylor, and Hugh Brock.
One might expect Sheffield Exhibition Knives to affect the direction of both antique knife collectors and custom knifemakers, as some of the beautiful books and auction catalogs have done over the past several years. Only time will tell, but don’t be surprised if you find prices on the finer examples of Sheffield cutlery rocketing skyward soon. As for customs, the first time I walk up to a maker’s table and pick up a sportsman’s knife with equal fit and finish but five times the number of blades in a typical custom ‘multiblade,’ then I will REALLY be impressed.
Sheffield Exhibition Knives
by Claussen et al.
Hardcover, 247 pp.