I’ve known him for about 30 years,
which is about the span of his career as an independent
pocket-knife maker. However, his working life as a cutler goes
back much further than that, as a premier craftsman at some of
Sheffield’s leading firms. He began in the trade 75 years ago
and has been making high-quality knives ever since.
Stan had celebrated his 90th
birthday a few days before we met. His career milestone passed
unnoticed in the local press. Yet he has outlived his
contemporaries in the trade. He stands alone at the end of a
tradition, which saw Sheffield excel at the production of pocket
knives for at least 250 years.
He is still making knives, using
the traditional cutler’s tools (files, grindstones, and fiddle
drills) and the best materials, such as hand-forged blades,
pearl, and horn.
The commemorative booklet "Stan
Shaw and the Art of the Pocket-Knife",
available for download, describes his craft. The text is
illustrated throughout with photographs of the traditional
processes and close-ups of many dazzling knives – all
masterpieces of the cutler’s art.
© G. Tweedale