People often ask me when I first became interested in Sheffield pocket knives. I grew up in Bournemouth on England's South Coast and aged 11 while walking through the local woods I noticed something glinting among the pine needles. It was a two blade pocket knife with ring opening and sterling silver scales. Consulting my Pears Encyclopedia for 1964 I discovered the hallmarks were for Sheffield 1906, magic! Through all my various moves from then to now I still have the pocket knife, and it is one of my most precious possessions.
Like most of my generation of boys we learned how to use knives in the scouts and in my case while fishing off Bournemouth pier, when a sheath knife was seen as an essential part of our tackle! The knives we proudly owned were invariably made in Sheffield.
A year after graduating I settled into a career in public service and was posted to London. By a quirk of fate my job was soon re-located to the Steel City. Arriving in 1977 as a young man I had great trouble understanding the locals, they had a language of their own peppered with thees, thous and thysens!
In 2001 I had a career change and was lucky enough to buy a shop – now The Famous Sheffield Shop – selling goods made locally. Amongst the kitchen knives, table cutlery, scissors, pewterware and silverware were a treasure trove of local pocket and sheath knives. Very nice!
I set up a knife collectors club at the shop, so people could share knowledge of our products, history and craftsmanship. Through this I met the likes of Stan Shaw, Trevor Ablett, Stuart Mitchell, Grace Horne and a youthful Stephen Cocker, all highly accomplished crafspeople in their own individual ways. I also got to know the manufacturers - Egginton Group, Jack Adams, A Wright and Son and Taylor's Eye Witness, all of whom are making fine Sheffield knives.
Once we got the shop on line I soon realised that interest was not just local but international. Fast forward to 2012 when I had a stand at the largest knife show in the world – in Atlanta Georgia. There I met traders, collectors and makers some of whom had deep knowledge of the Sheffield scene, and others who asked me "what is a Sheffield?"
I wanted a specialist website showcasing Sheffield pocket and fixed blade knives - so here it is, www.sheffield-trading.com. Enjoy browsing round our new site and I hope there is something for you there – whether it is a good honest working knife that is needed, or a very special hand-made model with hand shaped backsprings and incorporating exotic materials!!
To think it all started with the knife in the woods....