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J R R Tolkien

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31 May 2010

Antique shop finds

I visited an antique shop last week sometimes. I don't normally as they tend to sell a lot of cheap tat. This one though had quite nice stuff. I bought a couple of knives and a pair of sheep shears.

The shears were made by Rob Sorby of Sheffield, and are unusual insofar as the way they are made, I found out, very few are made with the unverted spring. I bought them with the thought of making 2 knives with the blades, but that's not going to happen now! They are still quite sharp and cut easily and that's before I even sharpen them. They make a very satisfying "clunk" when you close them!

This knife turns out to be a butcher's knife, at least 71 years old, as the makers, T Williamson, Southfield finally closed it's doors in 1939. The handle is unlikely to be original though. It looks to me more like a wood working tool handle than a knife. But I like it as it is. I am going to sharpen it and make a sheath for it. It's got a 10" blade and a 6" round handle. This is going to become an user!

I found this snippet of info on BB:

Thomas Williams was my husband's grandfather. He died in 1917 and his son, also Thomas Williams took over but the business failed in the 1930's. The business was founded in 1765 by Thomas Williams, then Ebenezer Williams, then Thomas Johnson Williams, then another Thomas Johnson Williams 1851 - 1917 and then finally Thomas Johnson Williams born 1906.

We have a copy of their catalogue dated 1900. There is also a copy of a letter from Harry Wolhunter who killed the lion with one of their knives. It was used as a kind of advert.

They didn't just make knives. They were Butchers' Cutler and outfitters. My husband's grandfather was an engineer and patented many items of equipment including the "Silent Sausage Machine" mentioned in the catalogue in the British Library.

This is the third knife I purchased, it's more of a cleaver than a knife, the blade is just over8 3/4" long, the handle about 5 1/2" long. The blade is 3mm thick throughout its length. There is a name on the blade but I can't make it out at all at the moment as it is very faint.


  1. Beautiful, the shears and the knife, but especially the knife. That handle may not be the original, but I would say very close to it. I have some original butcher knives myself, and two of them have the same fitting as yours.
    The butcher knife was a popular hunting knife in the 18th century, and I carry one myself.
    Great find, well done.

  2. That's intersting about the fittings on your knives. The reason I say I don't think the handl is original is that is seems to be too new, and yet, the riveting of the tang certainly looks old and undisturbed. May be the knife had a cushioned life? Regardless I am pleased I have got it. It feels well balanced and quite light, despite the thickness of the spine, 1/4" at the ferrule. And they cost me only £9.50 for the knife and £10 for the shears!

  3. What sot of sheaths do you use on your butcher's knives, Le Loup? I am going to make a sheath for it but would like to get it as right as I can.

  4. I use the 18th century type which fits under the belt, no belt loop. You can add a thong to tie it to the belt but in 20 years this one has never come loose.
    This is worn more round the front, the same place you would stick a pistol under your belt. Easy to draw out and replace, will not get pushed upward when sitting down like so many other types.
    Go to: http://woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com/search?q=hunting+knife

    (highlight, copy and post in search) Or go to blog and put HUNTING KNIFE in the blog search top left.
    The sheath at the top with beading at the throat.
    This is a double sheath, heavy leather covered by a soft leather.