Metalwork Objects in Focus, Millennium Gallery, Sheffield
Master Cutler's Badge (1870)
This badge was made in Sheffield in 1870 by Thomas Bradbury and Sons, using gilt and enamel. It i s worn by the Master Cutler at official engagements during his term of office. When the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire was founded in 1624, they copied the Company of Cutlers in London and used images of an elephant and crossed daggers for their coat of arms. The elephant symbolises the ivory trade, which played a crucial role in the cutlery industry. It also implied that the goods being produced in Sheffield were of the highest quality.
The Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire
During the Middle Ages, the presence of abundant water power and millstone grit, for grinding, facilitated the establishment and the growth of the cutlery industry. When the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire was incorporated by an Act of Parliament in 1624, the local cutlery industry in Sheffield was already more than three centuries old.
The Act of Incorporation gave the Company jurisdiction over '...all persons using to make Knives, Blades, Scissors, Shears, Sickles, Cutlery wares and all other wares and manufacture made or wrought of iron and steel, dwelling or inhabiting within the said Lordship and Liberty of Hallamshire, or within six miles compass of the same....'
The Company took over the responsibility for apprentices, admitting freemen, registering marks and devising regulations to ensure the quality of workmanship. The first master cutler in 1624 was the cutler Robert Sorby, who came from a well established family.
For almost four hundred years, the Company has maintained the standing of Sheffield's metal-related industries, both at home and abroad.