Length 12cm Iron knife found at Wigber Low. Knives like this one are common in the Anglo-Saxon period. Both men and women would have carried a knife with them. It was an essential item for many tasks in their daily lives.
It was used as a tool, not as a weapon. The iron has survived reasonably well and has been stabilised by conservation treatment. This gives it the darker, almost black colour. The handle would have been made of an organic material, like wood or bone. This has not survived in the ground. Knife Material and Medium: This knife has an ivory handle that is surmounted with a carved skull.
It was made in London around Objects decorated with skulls, or works of art including depictions of skulls, are often referred to as 'memento mori' loosely translated from Latin as 'remember your mortality'. They were sometimes used to commemorate a death or to help remember a deceased person. Queen Victoria revived the fashion for memento mori as she endured a long period of mourning for her husband, Prince Albert, who died in This new interest in remembering the dead is sometimes referred to as the 'cult of mourning'.
Brooches made from Whitby jet were very popular at this time and were worn as a symbol of mourning. Cheaper versions were made in Sheffield using pressed buffalo horn imported from the United States and India. Pendants containing locks of hair from deceased relatives were also worn as memento mori. Iron and steel, brass Dimensions: This delicate folding knife bears the mark 'W. In this mark was registered to William Pepys, a descendant of the diarist Samuel Pepys.
Based on its style and shape, this knife was originally dated to around Folding knives of this date often had curved scimitar blades, as in this example. Folding knives of the late s tended to have straight, pointed blades after the French fashion. However, this interpretation relies on the assumption that the mark 'W. It is possible that a new blade was attached the haft to replace a damaged original, or simply that the knife was made in the earlier scimitar style.
The same cutler's mark was also used during the s by another London craftsman, W H Pepys. This cutler became a liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Cutlers of London in and was Master Cutler in and The knife scales are held in place with three pins and are engraved on both sides.
Records from Albrighton in Shropshire include information on Mary Broomall, who was born in and christened in Her marriage to Edward Pryce is recorded as taking place on the 26th September in or It is possible that it was given to Mary as a gift for her wedding or another special occasion. The giving a set of knives, or later a knife and fork, to a bride to mark her new status was practiced as early as the s. They were often presented in highly ornate decorative sheaths and were personalised with the name of the owner.
A small nick on the top edge of the blade can be used to open the knife. In Sheffield, this is known as a nail nick. The blade is a scimitar shape, which began to be used for table knives in the late s and become very popular in the s.
The rounded end of the blade could be used in a similar fashion to a spoon, scooping up any remaining sauce from the dinner plate. When unfolded, the brass scales the two sections that form the handle curve down at the end. This is very similar to a style of handle that began to be used at the end of the s, known as pistol grip.
When the blade is folded away, its bulbous end sits perfectly in the curve of the pistol handle. The hallmarks can be seen on the blade itself and the date letter is located on the tang. In a folding knife, this is the part of the blade that is attached to the bolster. Unfortunately there is no maker's mark. A large number of cutlers were making a variety of knives in Sheffield at around the time this object was made.
Many of them are listed in the Trade Directory for , alongside images of the mark or marks they were using. The blade is made from silver gilt and has bands of stamped and chased decoration.
The shape of the blade, known as spear point, and its style of decoration show a French influence. Most knives being produced in Britain at this time were a curved shape known as scimitar, but the new French style became fashionable during the second half of the s. The scales are made from green stained ivory, which has a ribbed effect known as reeding.
The scales are fixed onto the haft with four pins, probably made from brass. This folding knife was made at a time when many people still carried eating implements on their person.
A folding knife like this would most likely be used by a wealthy, fashion conscious individual for eating fruit, or during al fresco meals.
Some of the more expensive knives came in a set with a matching folding fork. Folding cutlery was also used more in everyday walks of life, replacing the knife in sheath of earlier times and was an essential accessory for travellers.
Silver and silver gilt would not react to acid in the fruit and spoil its taste, which is why dessert or fruit knives and forks were made of this material.
Folding knives were often made using very expensive materials, such as tortoiseshell and mother of pearl. They would function as a status symbol, communicating your wealth and refined sense of taste to those around you. Close plate, silver, tortoiseshell Dimensions: It was made by S Colmore, a Birmingham maker of close plate goods who registered the mark in The shape of the blade is known as spear point.
This type of blade and the style of its decoration are influenced by French folding knives. Most knives being produced in Britain during the s were a curved shape known as scimitar. The new, pointed French style became fashionable during the second half of the s. The beautiful tortoiseshell scales are fixed onto the haft with silver pins.
The blade is engraved with a hunting scene, including dogs and a rabbit. This might indicate it was intended for use while hunting or during outdoor activities. The knife was made at a time when many people still carried eating implements around with them. A folding knife like this would most likely be used by a wealthy, fashion conscious individual.
Folding cutlery was also used in everyday walks of life, replacing the knife in sheath of earlier times. It was an essential accessory for travellers. Decorative Art Accession Number: The blade is marked with the Lion Passant and the Sovereign's Head.
The Lion Passant was adopted as the Sterling standard mark in London in It indicates that the blade is made of silver. The Sovereign's Head indicates that the correct duty had been paid on an object.
This mark was between and The mother of pearl scales are fixed onto the haft with ornate silver pins in the form of rosettes. There is a cartouche inlaid into the scale onto which the owner's initials 'H. The knife is finished with a decorative silver end cap. The back of the blade is engraved with centaur carrying a bow and arrow. The knife was made at a time when many people still carried around eating implements with them.