Monday, 3 September 2012

Nanna's Knives. Utensil.

We have various inherited items within the kitchen, some are never used but are kept purely for nostalgic reasons (there’s that word again).

These knives belonged to my maternal grandmother – Frances. My mother thinks they were probably a wedding present, and despite the box being a little worn at the edges, the six knives within are just like new; I suspect they were rarely used – or perhaps ‘kept for best’. I actually love the box label more than the knives! and perhaps it is about time they were put to use?

In total contrast to these beautifully kept knives, in the same drawer we have something that belonged to D’s mother – it is the most basic of implements – we assume it was used to lower eggs in and out of boiling water? I think on average I probably use ten percent of the objects within this particular drawer, maybe it’s time to spring clean?


  1. Nanna's Knives look like they are well-crafted, and I agree with you, the box is just wonderful.
    How was the label printed - is it a coloured Litho?
    It's something to point out that lots of 'older' items were kept in their original boxes as a matter of course. Would be interesting to discuss why this was ...
    The egg lowering implement is so endearing. A basic twisted piece of wire that has a special use all of it's own. Thanks for sharing it. It would be great for blowing HUGE bubbles too!
    This tour has made me incredibly reflective and analysing of what I use, how I use things, and what I need, and want. I've given away, changed around and presented differently so many things - some of the rooms look a bit different now. It sounds like it's starting to have the same effect on you ...

  2. The knives are well crafted, although the handles are not actual bone - just some sort of composite. I looked up the manufacturer Slack and Grinold but they have sadly gone out of business. I think you are right about the label.
    It's interesting that objects were kept within their original boxes, was this because they were seen as something to treasure for life? My grandmother seemed to be of a generation who was happy to use basic items on a daily basis whilst all the good quality crockery and cutlery was kept under-wraps in drawers and cupboards – probably only making an appearance once or twice a year.

    This also makes me mindful of the term 'bottom drawer', and the idea of collecting objects prior to a marriage.

  3. I think a lot of knives were made of composite materials, and made to look like bone back then, they are very handsome. Such a shame that the company is no longer trading, but interesting to hear of your research.
    I gave Margaret (next door) a lift to the bus station today, so had the perfect opportunity to ask her about the idea of keeping items in their original boxes. She came up with some great and entertaining anecdotes about unused fish knives and forks, and certain things being kept only for 'best' on Sundays. We discussed the idea of objects and items having more 'value' to them years ago. Not living in so much of a throwaway society, as we do today. She was saying that people kept boxes as a place to keep precious items if they didn't have a 'special' cupboard etc., and also because of the details of where the item was made, company name etc. would be printed on the box (as with your Nanna's knives)as reference, and also because things that were of value were usually kept more value if the original box was supplied (as we see on 'Antiques Roadshow these days).

    Brought up the subject of the bottom drawer, just as we arrived at the bus station, so Margaret's comments for that will have to wait for while. Interesting that it was only one drawer, the 'bottom drawer.'

  4. The idea of keeping the box to retain the manufactures details was not one that I had considered; and I also assumed it was only our generation who had become obsessed with keeping the original box to increase value (due as you say to the many TV programmes urging us to do so), so that’s an interesting thought.
    Margaret’s idea about keeping items for Sunday best certainly seems to highlight how my grandmother lived; and this in turn relates to the way that certain rooms – such as the ‘front parlour’ would only be used at specific times too.
    I’m very keen to hear Margaret’s views on the bottom drawer – and why was it the bottom one! Some initial research seemed to suggest that the bottom drawer was for collecting just linens and sheets, however I did find mention of crockery too.

    I forgot to mention in my previous post that I am now dying to use the ‘egg scoop’ to blow bubbles – what a fab idea!!

  5. I find the social decorum about what was to be used for particular guests and visitors on which particular days of the week really fascinating.
    Margaret was also telling me that she would put on her 'Sunday best' outfit to wear to Sunday School in the morning. Then once returned home, she was expected to change out of it immediately and put on her 'regular' clothes to wear for the rest of the day. So that particular outfit was kept, and worn, for just a few hours each week. I was wondering what we could parallel it with nowadays. A suit kept for weddings and funerals? Maybe even that sounds outdated now?
    Have we lost a sense of the 'special' by opening hours being every day, and there being no 'day of rest' or 'kept for best?'

    Can't wait to hear whether you can blow bubbles successfully with the 'egg scoop' - really hope they are those huge wobbly ones that show up in beautiful colours, but burst with the lightest touch!

  6. D only owns one suit, which has been worn twice (for funerals) – so in his case it is not an out-dated idea – but he is probably an anomaly! I had a conversation with my friend C at the weekend about a similar issue – she has a working wardrobe and a weekend wardrobe, which I think is not uncommon; I however don’t differentiate.
    I suppose by only wearing ‘best clothes’ for a short period they were likely to last a lot longer; although in the case of children, they would inevitably outgrow the clothes before there was an opportunity to wear them out – hence the ‘hand-me-downs’, or perhaps some inventive needlework to adjust, let down, or adapt?

  7. S is the same as D (again, very similar) with only having one suit for any official engagements.
    I guess if you have a specific type of job that requires dressing either formally or in certain clothes, then a working and weekend wardrobe would make perfect sense. I don't differentiate either, but always have to be careful where I lean or sit down, so as not to get paint, ink, or some other staining substance on my clothes. So a pinny when printing is usually a must, unless it's an express job!
    Yes, I agree - hand-me-downs were most likely not to have been very worn if passed down from sibling to sibling. I don't have a sister, but remember being rather excited about getting some passed down clothes from my cousins who grew up for some time in Africa. Some amazing patterned cotton sun-suits (a bikini top with the bottom attached to a small frilly skirt) which I loved. Also, a pink and white polka dot flamenco dress with black fringing. It was all so exotic. I loved wearing that to parties.
    Any hand-me-downs your end?

  8. My word what fantastic hand-me-downs. You must have been the envy of all your friends! Like you I have no sisters, but between the ages of about 4 and 12 my grandparents worked as live-in housekeeper and gardener for a wealthy family in Surrey. It was a family of 3 girls and 1 boy. The two elder girls were only about a year in age apart, but the youngest girl was my age, and we became friends. We both received matching hand me downs from the two elder girls. Like you, I loved the idea of it, especially as it meant we could dress the same! Apparently the clothes were always excellent quality from places like Harrods, however sadly no polka dots or fringing!
    Are we digressing slightly?!

  9. What a great story P, and how lucky were you? I guess it's left you with a legacy of just having to wear fine quality garments and looking lovely at all times!?
    Yes, we are digressing, but it was fun while it lasted!

    Have you ever used Nanna's Knives?

    I have been to a conference today, Space Place Practice so my mind is whirring from the input - and an interesting discussion around the word, 'nostalgia' so I'll have a think about that and hope to comment with some coherence tomorrow!

  10. Thank you for your kind comments regarding attire - however I'm not sure that's absolutely accurate!

    I have used the knives - just once - and that was only because I ran out of our normal ones whilst we had lots of people round.

    The conference sounds really good, look forward to further commentary.


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