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WH Wragg

WH Wragg

The cutler's name W.H. Wragg is synonymous with the form of travel cutlery in which the handle of one implement forms the sheath of the other. The two parts slide together to make a compact bar that is easily packed with the steel blade of the knife and the tines of the fork protected. Sets made with square handles of either rosewood or ebony with pewter banding are invariably stamped W.H. Wragg Patentee to the knife blade. Often corresponding numbers are stamped to the wood to identify pairs where more than one set is owned.

Whether Wragg actually took out a patent or not is unknown. It was not uncommon for manufacturers to mark their work as patented even if it wasn't to offer some degree of protection. Little is known of WH Wragg except that he was from Sheffield. Some examples of his cutlery were also marked 'Emigrant Knife' and this was likely to capitalise on the great movement of people to California and Australia chasing the gold rushes of the mid 19th century. We have also seen two sets stamped Perry & Co. who presumably retailed them. This is likely to be James Perry's company (listed separately in Makers) formed in Manchester in 1824 to make and supply dip pens.

There were a number of different Wraggs working as cutlers in Sheffield. Most probably worked as cottage industries or family concerns rather than as a larger factory. It is possible most were related to each other and Wraggs continued to make knives in Sheffield well into the 20th century.

Wragg's design (if indeed he was the originator) of this type of travel cutlery was used by a number of English, French and German makers through the 19th and into the early 20th century. Later examples tend to have rounded handles but earlier sets are also seen. They tend to be smaller in size with inset ivory, bone, horn, tortoise shell or wood to the grips. Examples in silver are also known. The names of other makers seen on this design of cutlery include F. Ashman & Co., Dodworth, Hill, Riviere, Rodgers, Schulder, Temple and Williamson.

W.H. Wragg was active in the mid 19th century but we do not have precise dates for him. It is known that he also produced a variety of other folding knives some of which were also stamped Sheffield, a city famous for its cutlery.

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