Sheffield is to quill knives what Birmingham is to steel nibs – even in 1380 Chaucer’s miller of Trumpington mentioned a Sheffield thwitel (whittle) in The Reeves Tale. So to have such a reference book of all Sheffield makers is both very useful and also quite an amazing achievement by the author, Geoffrey Tweedale. Fifteen years ago before this directory existed, his book The Sheffield Knife was out of print, impossible to find and commanding internet prices of £150-£200 and even today on Amazon used books are £60 and new ones £195.
All author’s hate such profiteering and Dr Tweedale was probably aware of this when he published his first Directory in 2010. That a revision was produced in 1930 for this 730 plus page book is a testament to the author’s industry in collecting and updating the information.
This recent volume which I have on my shelf and read as well as refer to has to be one of the best value books available. For a start it is a reference book, which is easy to use to find any Sheffield knife maker - for example referring to Joseph Rodgers and Sons there are 9, A4 size, pages of readable but compact text and small but adequate illustrations.
But there is more - the history of small steel making and cutlering in the introduction will fascinate any collector; the bibliography alone is a delight and the suggested places to visit offers at least a year of weekend outings.
For me personally I love the small illustrations that do not waste space but create and enhance the text matter. This is an impressive contribution by a dedicated author and is tremendous value for money.
It is one of the new genre of books that are printed to order but how this can be done for the price of …is amazing. In the past ‘print to order’ books were either super-expensive or poor quality, particularly with older classics of the 19th century. This book is neither expensive nor anything other than a quality printed book – it is simply a book to treasure and use.
It can be purchased via Lulu
Tweedale’s Directory of Sheffield Cutlery Manufacturers 1740-2013