Sheffield picture puzzle on city's weird and wonderful metal products

Are you ready for another Sheffield cutlery picture challenge?

Thursday, 28th May 2020, 5:43 pm
Updated Friday, 29th May 2020, 9:32 am

The four pictures here are all of unusual, specialist items made for use in the home – so can you guess what they were designed to do?

They have been sent in by Nick Duggan, project leader of Name on a Knife Blade, which was launched last year by the Ken Hawley Collection Trust at Kelham Island Museum, Sheffield.

Nick writes: “The launch of the Digital Knife Wall has been postponed until a later date, but if you want a sneak preview, visit to see if you have your surname on a Sheffield knife.

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What purpose do you think this little ladle was designed for?

“If you want to follow the project, you can also join the Name on a Knife Blade Facebook group.”

Lots of these pieces have mystified the experts at the collection, said Nick, as their uses have been lost in the mists of time, despite the collection including many pattern books and catalogues.

“Why did the Victorians have so many different items to choose from?” he asked.

“Was it the clever Sheffield cutlery firms persuading people that they needed that extra item to impress the family and neighbours?”

These were designed for eating seasonal fruit - can you guess what, though?

Nick has provided a few clues to this week’s pictures.

The small ladle is for the writing desk, not for the table.

The pair of items on the green background are for eating a seasonal fruit. Which one, though?

Was the flat server used to dish out tomatoes, ice cream or flan?

A fork designed with an intriguing central prong - but why?

The fork with a Y-shaped middle prong shape has a patent number, 348441.

The truly incredible Hawley Tool Collection, which is housed at Kelham Island Industrial Museum, spans the city’s industry making all kinds of silverware, holloware, flatware and edge tools.

Tool shop owner Ken Hawley made it his life’s work to save save all the relics that he could of Sheffield’s world-beating manufacturing expertise before it all disappeared.

His mission spanned more than 50 years as he sought to save examples of the products and ‘tools that made the tools’, as well as expert knowledge of production, all manner of paperwork and photographs.

He spoke to manufacturers, grabbed items from skips and bought, begged and borrowed in a determined effort to keep a record of what was in many cases disappearing before his eyes.

A team of curators and volunteers have spent years painstakingly recording and researching the collection that Ken was adamant should stay in the city where it was created.

The collection attracts researchers from all the world and the idea of Name on a Knife Blade is to give public and expert alike a chance to learn more and celebrate Sheffield’s industrial heritage. But there’s always room for a bit of fun – so guess away about the origins of these latest curios!