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Metalwork

Sheffield is known throughout the world foremost for its association with steel and cutlery: in the 1800s primarily for its pioneer steelmakers and innovation, and more recently for processing and finishing. While Sheffield's worldwide renown as a producer may have been eclipsed during the 1900s, its metalwork trades continued and flourish. Museums Sheffield is custodian of a collection of finished metalwork, awarded Designated Status in 1999 in recognition of its outstanding national and historical significance.

The collection is made up of some 13,000 items including what is probably the most extensive grouping of Sheffield-made cutlery, flatware (forks and spoons) and holloware (eg bowls, teapots, containers) in existence. It represents the light metals trades of Sheffield's long manufacturing and craft history. Most importantly the collections reflect the stories of generations of families who worked in the city and whose labour and skill contributed to its enormous success.

The collection mostly comprises items for domestic use, such as cutlery and tableware. This includes table knives and flatware, and material for the export trade such as Bowie knives in common use during the expansion of the American west. The collection also includes domestic equipment such as razors and scissors as well as material related to the cutlery trades such as horn, pearl and ivory knife handles. In addition it contains comparative items drawn from the cultures of Europe, Africa and Asia and range from flint knives dating from 2500BC to high quality silverware and stainless steel made today.

The collection of holloware is an intrinsic part of the Designated Metalwork Collection. It includes small collections of silver and electroplate, but most importantly two significant collections of Britannia metal and Old Sheffield Plate. These two metals, developed in Sheffield from the mid 1700s, include items made for the home such as teapots, candlesticks, tankards and snuff boxes, manufactured by well known local firms.

Using state-of-the-art fast 3D scanning technologies, our partners at Sheffield Hallam University have captured 3D images of some of the objects shown here. Objects which aren't normally displayed, or are too delicate for handling, can now be experienced virtually from anywhere in the world. This pioneering project celebrates Sheffield's unique place in the world history of metal-making.

You can search the collection online here, or visit the permanent exhibition at the Millennium Gallery - click here for details. Please note that whilst the permanent exhibition frequently rotates items from the Metalwork Collection, it is not possible to display all of the collection at any one time.

The 3D models are subject to a Creative Commons open license. This means they can be downloaded for academic and research purposes, providing copyright is attributed to Museums Sheffield. For commercial enquiries please contact: decorative@museums-sheffield.org.uk

This project was funded under JISC Rapid Digitisation programme.

Show Objects
Name of ObjectSorted AscendingAccession NumberCollectionDate Made/FoundTimes Viewed
Sugar basin1968.231 Metalwork around 17901490
Soup tureen1969.28 Metalwork Around 18002665
Egg-cup and cover1969.691 Metalwork 1815-18201502
Folding knife1969.696 Metalwork circa 1886750
Knife set1969.702 Metalwork around 19651696
Cup1969.709 Metalwork 1850-1870998
Nelson Knife1970.111 Metalwork Around 19301491
Egg cup1970.28 Metalwork 1770-18001008
Knife1970.372a Metalwork mid 18th-18th Century694
Pen Knife1970.400 Metalwork circa 1900977
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