Joseph Rodgers

Joseph Rodgers is a leading name in Sheffield cutlery. The company was established in 1724 by John Rodgers who licensed their eventually world famous star and Maltese cross mark from the Cutlers’ Company. He was joined by his two sons Maurice and Joseph in 1730.

They formally registered the star and Maltese cross mark in 1764 and in the 1780s moved to their most famous address – Norfolk Street in Sheffield. They started to widen their product range and around 1800 they expanded their range from pocket knives to razors, table cutlery and scissors.

In 1821 they achieved a Royal Warrant as cutlers to to the Royal Family. On the back of this success they opened showrooms to exhibit their wares which later included their two most famous knives – The Year Knife and the Norfolk Knife.

The Year Knife was started in 1822 with a new blade added to mark each year of the Christian calendar. It now contains 2,000 blades with various owners continuing on the tradition of adding a blade up until 2000. The knife’s owners (Stanley Tools UK Ltd) have now given it on long-term loan to the Hawley Collection Trust who display it in their museum in Sheffield.

The Norfolk Knife was made for the Great Exhibition of 1851. It took two years to finish and its’ blades have etchings amongst others of Chatsworth House, Queen Victoria, and The White House.

The firm opened larger showrooms in 1860 and were visited by people from as far afield as America and China who were keen to see the amazing workmanship on display. Among their famous visitors were the Shah of Persia and King Edward VII.

The business grew to become the largest cutlery factory in Sheffield. They exported their goods to Asia, Africa and the Americas, with the USA becoming their largest export market. It is claimed that General Custer gave Buffalo Bill a Rodger’ hunting knife which he went on to use in his fight with Sitting Bull.

The firm focused on the highest quality first and foremost in every aspect of production and this earned their Star and Cross mark the reputation of being a guarantee of superb quality. This was borne out by them maintaining the Royal Warrant of five successive monarchs – George IV, William IV, Queen Victoria, Edward VII and George V.

Unfortunately despite their great reputation, the firm could not withstand the general decline of the Sheffield cutlery industry and went through a number of changes of ownership in the later part of the 20th Century. The Eggington Group eventually bought the rights to the trademarks and name in 1986 and Joseph Rodgers knives continue to be produced.

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