The London Knife Book: An A-Z Guide to London Cutlers 1820-1945 by: Ron Flook
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Table of Contents
Signed by the author
Written by the respected knife historian, collector and author, Ron Flook, this new publication is an informational and reference tool on antique London knives, knife makers and cutlery dealers. With high quality color photography and concise, detailed content, The London Knife Book is expected to change the face of London knife trading and collecting by providing collectors with a great deal of previously unpublished information.
Reviewed by Knife World Staff
Author Ron Flook's name should be familiar to most Knife World readers - if not for his occasional contributions to this publication, for his books on military knives (which include British & Commonwealth Military Knives - the definitive work on the subject.) But you may not be aware that the author's love for English cutlery extends far beyond military edged weapons, to include the fixed blade and folding knives that earned Great Britain its reputation as the world's cutlery center.
While the city of Sheffield has for centuries attracted most of the attention, the cutlers of London achieved an equally high standard - and yet the city has largely been overlooked by cutlery historians. In digesting Mr. Flook's latest book, one is struck by the notion that it should do much to help correct this oversight and give London's cutlers the recognition that has been withheld for so long.
Perhaps the best way to describe The London Knife Book is to suggest that its format resembles the highly regarded Goins' Encyclopedia of Cutlery Markings, but with crisp, clear, full color photographs (the work of publisher David Watson) and of course focused specifically on the cutlery makers and retailers of London. The bulk of the book (215 pp.) is devoted to an A-Z Listing of London Cutlers which is a compilation of known makers & retailers, their addresses and dates of operation, and a short history of each firm if that information is known. There are literally hundreds of entries, covering the better known firms like Evans & Co., Holtzapffel, Paget, Thornhill, Underwood, Weiss, and Wilkinson to those such as Clements, Cogswell & Harrison, J. Drew & Sons, Hill & Son, Lund, and Savigny, and of course a great many of the obscure variety. Few of these firms have been well documented in the cutlery literature, and I would venture that the majority of makers and retailers are listed here for the very first time. This is a tribute to the amount of original research conducted in the course of assembling this book, and is The London Knife Book's most significant contribution to the field.
Accompanying the listings are many rare knives and other fine cutlery items with a London association. Hunting knives, bowies, and folding knives of all kinds (especially multiblade examples) are very well represented, and there are also a few surgical instruments, straight razors, folding saws, hunters axes and other items scattered throughout - enough to remind us that London's cutlers produced more than just the obvious. The large closeup photos of particularly significant pieces are a nice touch, and collectors of unusual cutlery will find many things to appreciate here - from pocketknives with unusual special-purpose blades or opening mechanisms, to a 19th century throwing star that will look familiar to Randall collectors, to English hunting knives that bear a strong resemblance to those popular in California's Gold Rush days.
The London Knife Book is an important addition to the cutlery literature, and an absolutely essential reference for everyone with an interest in English cutlery of the 19th and 20th centuries - after all, it's the only book likely to identify the more obscure London cutlery firms. Those who simply appreciate bowie knives and high grade pocket cutlery will also find much to appreciate here as well. Hats off to Mr. Flook for delivering another superb book on a subject that was in real need of one.
The Worshipful Company of Cutlers
London Cutlers and Retailers
A-Z Listing of London Cutlers
References and Sources
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- Type / Pattern
- Width: 8 inches
- Height: 11.5 inches
- Depth: 0 inch
- Weight: 3.38 pounds
- Hard Cover with dust jacket