City gifts go global

Cutlery at Christmas: Paul Iseard in The Famous Sheffield Shop
Cutlery at Christmas: Paul Iseard in The Famous Sheffield Shop
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AUSTRALIA, Canada, China, Malaysia...

Paul Iseard, owner of The Famous Sheffield Shop in Ecclesall Road, thinks for a moment.

“Oh, and Antarctica,” he says. “We had a doctor come in who was based at a place called Patriot Hills Camp. That’s so far south it doesn’t even appear on regular maps of the world. He bought a knife for a colleague there.”

Thus, it seems, hundreds of people across the globe will tomorrow enjoy a very Sheffield Christmas day.

Trade at the city’s two gift shops – the second being Sheffield Scene in Surrey Street – has more than doubled in December. And a huge proportion of that has been heading overseas. Both global online orders and city folk sending gifts across the world have increased.

Hunting knives, made in Charles Street, are big in America; tea strainers, produced in Trafalgar Street, have gone to China; and Diamond Jubilee cufflinks, manufactured in Holbrook, have sold surprisingly well in Australia.

“I also had an online order for Hunter’s Bar,” notes Paul. “I didn’t bother posting it. I dropped it off myself.”

In the rest of the UK, meanwhile, city pocket knives have been popular in Norfolk; a batch of Burngreave-made egg-cutters were sent to London; and Henderson’s T-shirts are being snapped up by parents whose offspring have taken to living in, ugh, The South.

But, then, perhaps it isn’t surprising this small corner of South Yorkshire is so big when it comes to gifts.

The long-built reputation for creating the world’s best cutlery means the city is renowned for craftsmanship.

“And when people think of Christmas presents they want quality goods,” says Paul. “That means we sell a lot of traditional products – but it also means people think of Sheffield gifts as making nice presents.

“So city mugs are popular, and pictures of the city.”

Nostalgia books, fridge magnets, scissors and pub guides also hold their own

And Paul – who is one of the few things not Made In Sheffield in his shop (“I’m a Bournemouth lad”) – has noticed another trend this year.

“Presents seem to be more practical,” he says. “That means more cutlery, less silver picture frames. I imagine it’s to do with the recession.”

Jayne Sherman, manager at Sheffield Scene meanwhile, reckons Diamond Jubilee products made here have been among the biggest sellers.

“I suppose it’s a once-in-a- lifetime thing, so something with that hallmark makes it a little more special as a present,” she says.

And then she’s off, busy, to serve another customer.

That’s Sheffield, Christmas shopping city.

Facts

TEA-STRAINER: selling tea to China may be notoriously difficult but dozens of Chinese students have bought these silver strainers.

HENDERSON’S T-SHIRT: as a gift, second only to a bottle of relish itself.

MUG: proper northerners like tea mashed so the spoon stands up. And in a Sheffield mug.

EGG-CUTTER: “An egg-cutter? You shouldn’t have. No, really, you shouldn’t have.” Unless it’s made in the Steel City that is.