James Dixon & Sons
, founded 1806
Material and Medium: stainless steel and plastic
Dimensions: Overall: 20 x 32 x 303mm (13/16 x 1 1/4 x 11 15/16in.)
Department: Decorative Art
Accession Number: 1968.208
This is a bread knife by James Dixon & Sons to commemorate the Coronation of King Edward VIII in May 1937 which, due to his abdication, never took place.
The knife blade is made of stainless steel. In 1913 the Sheffield chemist, Harry Brearley, discovered that steel with a high chromium content did not rust or deteriorate in the same way as carbon steels. He worked with the firm Thomas Firth & Sons to develop it into a commercially viable product. The creation of this new material, known as stainless steel, assisted the process of mechanisation in the cutlery industry. It could not be handled using traditional techniques and blades had to be stamped out from sheets of stainless steel. From 1940, table cutlery and other items were increasingly made from stainless steel, though pocket knives and some trade knives were made using traditional methods and materials.