William & Samuel Butcher - Sheffield, UK


 
     

 

 

 

Photograph by Geoffrey Tweedale
from the oil portrait at Sheffield Town Trust

The Historical Overview for William & Samuel Butcher was written by Geoffrey Tweedale, Professor of Business History at Manchester Metropolitan University Business School.

Geoffrey Tweedale studied history at Queen Mary College, University of London, and then enrolled at the London School of Economics.  At the LSE, he developed an interest in American economic history under the supervision of two dedicated Americanists, Jim Potter and the late Charlotte J. Erickson.  His PhD thesis in 1983 looked at the transfer of Sheffield steel and tool technologies to the USA in the 19th century.

The information you find in this History Review is the most reliable and accurate in existence today.  It clarifies several important points in Butchers' history, especially their association with the Wades (there were two of them), the use of "Wade & Butcher" trade mark, and involvement of William Butcher in the development of steel in America (it was William Butcher Jr. - not William from W. & S. Butcher).  The essay also provides a direction for possible further research into the history of this important enterprise.

The firm of William & Samuel Butcher intrigued me for a long time.  At the beginning of my affair with old tools I remember seeing some plane irons and chisels on eBay and these tools prompted questions.  Who are the makers of these tools?  I was particularly impressed with a trade mark on plane irons.  It looked very ornate and somewhat mysterious.  I searched for more information about the makers on the Internet, but results were rather meager.

A few years went by, a few saws with a W. Butcher stamp found their way to my shop and rested on the shelf with a few other saws made by English sawmakers.  My search for information on W. & S. Butcher didn't advance much.  A few years ago I found short vignette about them on the TiltHammer.com site.  I also noticed that there are websites dedicated to "Wade & Butcher" razor blades.  Apparently, things had moved forward a bit, but the information about W. & S. Butcher was still very scant.

Everything changed with my acquaintance with Geoffrey Tweedale at the beginning of last year.  Geoffrey "Tweedale's Directory of Sheffield Cutlery Manufacturers 1740 - 2010" was published in 2010 and it has been advertized on this website since 2011. 

Since then Geoffrey and I stayed in touch.  I took the opportunity to pick his brain on many aspects of toolmaking in Sheffield and found a responsive friend in Geoff.  He provided me with answers to questions I had, some additional material from his personal research, and suggestions for further steps in my information search.

Before we met (over the phone and email) I already had two of his books in my library and I used them frequently in my work on American saws and other toolmakers.

A few weeks ago we had a conversation about Butchers and my difficulties in finding reliable information about them.  Hearing my desperation and disappointment, Geoffrey offered to write an essay about the brothers and post it on this website. 

I hurriedly agreed!

July, 2012
Wiktor Kuc


 
 


Sheaf Works of
Wm. Greaves & Sons

Tweedale’s Directory of Sheffield Cutlery Manufacturers
1740-2013

2nd Edition

Sheaf Works of Wm. Greaves & Sons, was built in the 1820s to supply the American demand for tools and cutlery (such as razors and Bowie knives). This firm is one of hundreds profiled and illustrated in Tweedale's Directory.

Find more in the Directory.

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