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Atkinson Brothers


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Another venerable Sheffield manufacture:

Atkinson Brothers of Sheffield. The charming set of DUBARRY silverplated cutlery made by Original Sheffield has knife blades by Atkinson Bros.

But the Atkinson Bros' blades traveled far too. The respected Norwegian silversmith Theodor Olsen commissioned knife blades from Atkinson Brothers too, including for the sterling Anitra (1936) dinner service.

Does anyone have more information about Atkinson Brothers than posted on the Grace's Guide site linked above? I have not been able to find out more than that for now and would love to hear if they're still in business or?  Thanks in advance for any replies.

 

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anitra-atkinson-blades.jpg

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Back in the 1980's I used to go to Newbridge Cutlery in Ireland to repair machinery. The owner, Dominic Doyle, told me that he imported all his knife blades from Sheffield. He also imported the press tooling to make the Kings Pattern cutlery handles from Sheffield but he was worried about the age of the men making the tooling in case they retired as he could not find anyone younger capable of making it. Newbridge Cutlery in now called Newbridge Silverware and is selling Kings Pattern cutlery today as it is on their web site.

So it would be quite normal for foreign cutlery manufacturers to buy their blades from Sheffield. The attached photo taken by my Grandfather around 1900 has "Forging a Blade" pencilled on the side of it. Grandmother's family were blade forgers.

Lil mesters.jpg

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The brothers Edward Atkinson (1848-1904) and John Atkinson (1850-1914) were the sons of William Atkinson, a Draper. in 1871 the two brothers were working as Clerks in the Cutlery trade, Edward worked for Ebenezer Parker on Rockingham Street by 1876 the brothers had started their partnership on the Milton Works on Milton Street. The company was listed as merchants and manufacturers of Razors, Scissors and edge tools, they sold Pen & Pocket Knives besides plus Shoe & Butchers Knives. Four years later in 1880,they led the use of machinery in production and were one of the biggest users of Celluloid for al types of handles.

At this time they employed up to 100 workers including men, women, boys and girls, they were up there as one of the biggest manufacture's of Table Knives in the town and a big supplier to the British Army. In 1884 the brothers bought the marks and order book of Ebenezer Parker, they had workshops on Milton Works, Exchange Works and Porter Island Works, by this time they had plans to move into Sterling Silver and Electro Plate, they registered their Silver mark in 1897, by 1910 they had vacated the Milton Works and moved to the Britannia Works on Renton Street and Soho Street in Little Sheffield (Little Sheffield being an area Boston Street / London Road) .

In 1892 John Atkinson became Master Cutler and served on Sheffield Town Council in the 1880s, he travelled world-wide promoting their goods, in 1901 he was living in Sydenham in South East London where he oversaw the London end of the business, his brother Edward died on the June 9th 1904 at his home at 53 Broomgrove Road Sheffield, his house is still there, despite the success of their business he only left £365, when other cutlery manufacturers were leaving extraordinary amounts in their wills, John Atkinson died on the 7th of August 1914 in Brighton, no record of his will or an obituary has been found. The business continued up to the 1970s when the firms address was moved to Herries Road to a Manufacturer called Hiram Wild who's edict was "Quantity not Quality" it produced millions of items cheap cutlery, lots of whittle tang knives, by 2010 this firm was selling its goods via a website when all production ceased in 2006 at its Herries Road factory. Buying online usually means imported goods, even though Hiram Wild started out in 1876 but it has a not very good history.

 

Most of this information was from "Tweedale's Directory Of Sheffield Cutlery Manufacturers 1740-2010" so I urge Lizcutlery to try and obtain this bible of Sheffield's Cutlery firms, Geoff did publish an updated version of his book in which I've been mentioned, which I'm very proud to say.

I worked at George Butler at Cutlass Works on Sidney Street  for 25 years then spent a further 25 years at three further cutlery firms.

 

 

 

George Butler Cutlass Works 1977.png

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  • 3 weeks later...

Yes the Atkin brothers made really nice items and I can also endorse the great book by Geoffrey Tweedale `Tweedale  Directory of Sheffield`s Cutlery Manufacturers`A few more examples of Atkin Bros work 

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lizcutlery

Wow! I am grateful and thrilled to receive such fine detailed replies to my inquiry, thank you so very much! I shall definitely try to find the Tweedale Directory of Sheffield Cutlery Manufacturers.

Quick question for clarification: Old Rider and tozzin directed their replies to ATKINSON BROTHERS, whereas doog mentions ATKIN BROTHERS.

Is this a mixup of the names or where they of the same family tree and just added -son as the family grew?

Personal note: My own husband's name is Atkinson, b. in Lancaster, but he maintains that his family is a farming clan still in the (now) Cumbria area. But, who knows if there weren't some cutlers there also who moved to Sheffield? That would be a small world.

I am a reseller of fine vintage silverware, cutlery, in the U.S. Whenever I come across fine Sheffield ware I am proud to be representing it.

Thanks again!

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On ‎01‎/‎01‎/‎2017 at 19:22, lizcutlery said:

Wow! I am grateful and thrilled to receive such fine detailed replies to my inquiry, thank you so very much! I shall definitely try to find the Tweedale Directory of Sheffield Cutlery Manufacturers.

Quick question for clarification: Old Rider and tozzin directed their replies to ATKINSON BROTHERS, whereas doog mentions ATKIN BROTHERS.

Is this a mixup of the names or where they of the same family tree and just added -son as the family grew?

Personal note: My own husband's name is Atkinson, b. in Lancaster, but he maintains that his family is a farming clan still in the (now) Cumbria area. But, who knows if there weren't some cutlers there also who moved to Sheffield? That would be a small world.

I am a reseller of fine vintage silverware, cutlery, in the U.S. Whenever I come across fine Sheffield ware I am proud to be representing it.

Thanks again!

Atkins were a different firm entirely, founded in 1820s as Law Atkin & Oxley, they were manufacturers of Gold & Silver dessert knives & forks in Eyre Street, by 1839 Henry Atkin and John Oxley had gone on their own also in Eyre Street. In 1841 the partnership was dissolved and Henry Atkin started a business on his own in Howard Street, he also registered a silver mark that year. On the 14th of February 1853 Henry Atkin  died,  three of his  sons, Harry Wright Atkin, Edward Thomas Atkin & Frank Shaw Atkin collectively formed Atkin Brothers. They registered a silver mark in 1853 and moved to The Truro Works on Matilda Street, these premises was the works of Joseph Cutts but the Atkin Brothers expanded the firm. Edward Atkin and Frank Atkin, Frank died on the 21st of May 1901, both managed the Sheffield production and Harry Atkin, the senior partner, eventually moved to London where he ran the firms branch at Charterhouse Street, Holborn, it was there he died of a heart attack on the 2nd of June 1896. Edward the surviving brother was fully conversant in all the aspects of working with silver. He was a Unitarian and he took no interest in public life, he died on the 5th of October at the age of 75 at his home on Kenwood Road.

Atkin Brothers was well up in the top ten Silverware firms in Sheffield and at their peak they employed over 400 men, women, boys and girls, Henry left £34,335, Edward left £223,669, Frank Atkin , son of Frank Shaw Atkin, who died on the 22nd of June left £245,317, so the firm was very profitable and in todays terms they left millions. The Atkin family continued to run the firm during the inter-war periods, the workforce had dwindled to 150 in 1918 but like many cutlery firms they retained a loyal core of workers, the average length of service was 47 years and one worker had worked for them for 63 years.

In the early 1950s the family were still prominent on the board, in 1958 the flatware silver dies and the patterns of Atkin brothers were bought by C.J. Vander, the holloware side of the business was acquired by Adie Brothers of Birmingham. I can remember the Truro Works being semi derelict with small businesses renting individual shops, by the 1990s the works was bought at it was converted into flats for students.

The photos show the Truro Works and a fantastic coal wagon made of Sterling Silver by the Silversmiths of Atkin Brothers. All information from Geoff Tweedale's Directory of Sheffield Cutlery Manufacturers.

Truro Works Matilda St 2.jpg

Atkin Bros.jpg

Truro Works Matilda St 1.jpg

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