Another old knife


April 20, 2013, 10:22 AM
Here's another old family heirloom I just found while looking for something else. I don't know if this would be considered a carver or a small butcher knife. I guess it's a carver as there are no butchers I am aware of on the family tree. Maker's stamp on the blade says "I. WILSON SHEAR STEEL", and next to that "SHEFFIELD ENGLAND".

Pretty nice old knife. It's been sitting ignored for many decades. I will have to sharpen it up and put it to good use in the kitchen.

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April 20, 2013, 10:33 AM
Once in a while I find similar gem at a yard sale. Can't beat old steel for character.

April 20, 2013, 10:58 AM
According to "Fighting Iron, a Metals Handbook for Arms Collectors", by Art Gogan, shear steel was made from about 1700 to the early 1900's. The book indicates that shear steel was made from hammer welding stacks of "blister steel" together to form a billet. Shear steel has alternating layers of plain iron and carburized iron.

Art states that shear steel was the most common steel used by the Sheffield cutlery industry.

I assume it was too labor expensive to make and unable to compete with modern steel making methods.

That pattern of knife was made by countless knife makers, Russell knives made a Green River "butcher" pattern. This type of knife, probably many made that the same English maker, was a common knife carried by Mountain Men, Pioneers, in the wild and wooly west.

Fred Fuller
April 20, 2013, 05:34 PM
Looks to be a butcher knife with about a 10" blade, give or take, worn down from years of use and sharpening. Similar knives are still in production today - see for one example.

LOTS of people use and have used butcher knives as kitchen utility knives, without actually being butchers ...

April 22, 2013, 06:30 PM
I don't know if you plan to keep it or sell it. If you plan on selling it, perhaps you should not sharpen it until you know if doing that has any affect on price/electability. After watching too many Antique Road Shows, they always stress not cleaning, polishing, etc as collectors prize the patina.

April 23, 2013, 12:48 PM
I glanced at the pics before reading the copy and thought I was looking at an older well used Old Hickory blade.... Pretty hard to beat a simple butcher or boning pattern blade with wood handles, whether antique with early steel or the more modern versions.

April 23, 2013, 04:20 PM
Vonderek, nice find. I'm glad that someone who found it understands what it is. The stye of the knife reminds me of the type/style used in butcher shops years ago.

April 23, 2013, 11:10 PM
Sharpen it and use it as your family did before.

April 24, 2013, 08:58 PM
I used to enjoy freehand sharpening but after modern S30V laughed at my meager efforts I have gotten lazy and just use a Chef's Choice these days. A few passes and this old butcher/boning/carver is good to go. I prepared dinner with it tonight and the damn thing is like a 100+ year old light saber. There's something to be said for old-school carbon steel. If nothing else, my ancestors had a good eye for practical cutlery. I've got a few drawers of beautiful old carbon steel goodness thanks to them.

April 25, 2013, 07:46 AM
I got some 1950's Old Hickory knives that are great. Good find and glad to see you using it.

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