|Description: A box (A.77.69a) with a narrow rectangular black case made of cardboard. On the front is printed, 'The original & only True Pipe Razor Manufactured only by George Wostenholm and Sons Limited Sheffield England.' The lid (A.77.69b) slips partially over the case. On the front is printed, 'Corporate Mark, Granted by the Cutlers Company, Dec 22.1894.' The razor (A.77.69c) has a long plastic handle that is hollow in the middle so the razor can fit inside. The blade is attached at the top of the handle. It is silver and has a straight edge. On the inside of the blade is printed, 'The original and only Genuine Pipe Razor, Manufactured solely by Geo. Wostenholm & Son, Mark - granted - A.D. 1604.'
History: The razor is from Sheffield, England, c 1894. Acquired by the Vice-President of The Township of Toronto Historical Foundation.
George Wostenholm was born on 31 January 1800 in Sheffield. His father and great-grandfather were both called George and had been involved in the cutlery trade. Great-grand-father George (b. 1717) set up a small local business in the Stannington area of Sheffield. This area became famous for the invention of the Barlow pocketknife. In the late 1750's Henry Wostenholm (son of George) was given the right to name his knives Spring Knife by the Cutlers Company. These were popular folding knives.
Henry's son George (1755-1833) was apprenticed to a cutler John Mickelthwaite and then joined his father's business as a partner where he remained until his father's death in 1803. George then moved to Sheffield, first to premises on Garden Street and then to Broad Lane. The site on Broad Lane later formed the Rockingham Works.This was a time when the cutlery trade in Sheffield was expanding largely due to the growth in the export trade.
George (junior) was apprenticed to his father at the Rockingham Works, where he became familiar with all aspects of the trade. When he was only 24 he became an assistant to the Cutler's Company, by this time the company were mainly involved in the regulation of trade marks. He was brought into the family business which were described in the Sheffield Directory as: Geoge Wostenholm and Son, manufacturers of table knives and forks, pen, pocket, and sportsman's knives, and general dealers in cutlery, 78 Rockingham Street.
On 3 October 1826, George Wostenholm was made a freeman of the Cutlers' Company and was given his own trade mark -I*XL- an old mark once belonging to W.A. Smith in 1787; this mark was now to become world famous.
In the 1830s the two Georges entered a partnership with William Stenton, a buyer for Naylor and Sanderson's of Sheffield. William Stenton opened up markets in America for the surplus stock that the Wostenholms had on their hands in the 1830s. They were experiencing a slump in trade in the home markets. Until 1835 Sheffield held the monopoly on the American cutlery trade; it was still at 90 percent by the time of the American Civil War in the 1860s.
George took over the firm in 1834 as a result of his father's death on the 31 December 1833. In 1836 George made his first visit to America and set up a chain of agencies selling cutlery carrying his famous I*XL trade mark. The main office was in New York but he had branches as far afield as San Francisco. George made thirty visits to America during his lifetime. The continuing orders from America allowed him to expand his premises and keep his workforce of 300-400 busy.
During the period 1830-60 the firm added to its cutlery and razor trade a new product, the Bowie knife. The Bowie knife was developed acting on the instructions of legendary American frontiersman Colonel James Bowie. A Bowie knife bearing the I*XL trademark was found on Col. Bowie's body when he was killed defending the Alamo in 1836. The knife became increasingly popular in America, but no American company was able to equal the artistry and quality of the Sheffield manufactures. This one product meant the firm in |