If I have had a hard day at work and my last valuation has been in a particularly dirty and badly neglected property I may arrive home somewhat disheveled, which my wife refers to as my ‘boy scout’ look. She has done this for many years as I am often disheveled. These thoughts take me back to my days in the Boy Scouts, which I have to say we’re by no means covered in glory, but I did love all the paraphernalia, especially the penknives.
In my youth both my father and I had a small collection of penknives, but as I grew my interest in the collection waned and now sadly it no longer exists. I say sadly because the interest in penknives is very strong at the moment and the market is very buoyant. Floating at the very top of that buoyant market are penknives by one of the best makers and Little Mesters, Mr Stan Shaw.
Stan Shaw only died very recently, in February to be exact. I never met him, but wish our paths had crossed over the years. From all I have heard and all I have read he was quite simply a lovely, kind and unassuming man. A quote from the Sheffield Industrial Museum Trust said he was a Sheffield legend and a true gentleman.
Stan Shaw worked in the industry from his apprenticeship with George Ibberson and Co. in 1941 right up to his death in 2021. That is really quite incredible, it is 80 years experience…… no wonder his knives were so special. One of the other things that made Stan’s knifes so special was that he made the whole knife, from start to finish. He did the forging, the grinding and the hafting which are usually separate processes.
The waiting list for a Stan Shaw knife, when he was alive, was four years and over his life time in the industry he made knives for Elvis Presley, some US Presidents and even the Queen. There is little wonder that in 2017 Stan was awarded the British Empire Medal for services to manufacturing.
Do these really special knives ever appear in the salerooms? The answer is yes they do, but they are by no means a common sight. We have been lucky enough to sell some in the past and we are privileged to have some more for sale in our Fine Sale on 28th October, so it’s not a four year wait but who knows when the next opportunity to buy will present itself.
Senior Valuer Michael Dowse
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