The most cutting-edge collections also have their followers. Twelve penknives and decorative objects dated from the eighteenth to the twentieth century were stolen, on the morning of May 14, from the collections of the small museum of Kelham Island, in Sheffield, in central England. The crime caused a stir among the public of the establishment. With the exception of a pair of coffee pots from the reign of George III (1760-1820), the various stolen objects were made of metal, a material symbolically significant in Sheffied, the British cradle of the Industrial Revolution.
The list of missing objects gives the impression of an amazing bric-a-brac. There are some contemporary steel statuettes, a chick and a heron all in forks and spoons made by the "artist-scraper" Jason Heppenstall. And then there are Swiss Army knives. One of the most recent, assembled by Sheffield master cutler Stan Shaw (1926-2021), dates from 1987; The oldest is an amazing ceremonial knife from 1800, equipped with 104 blades.
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Sheffield with drawn knives
"This burglary took away important and irreplaceable goods related to the heritage of the city," Keith Crawshaw, president of the Ken Hawley Collection, owner of some of the stolen objects, said in a statement. "Their disappearance deprives us all of the opportunity to appreciate and value the know-how of ordinary workers," he added. Kim Streets, director of Sheffied Museums, said the operation appears to have been carefully prepared. South Yorkshire Police has been taken into charge of the case.
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The theft from the Kelham Island museum comes weeks after other burglaries in Sheffield and the surrounding area. In January, the Sheffield Assay Office - the local authority responsible for hallmarking and authenticating precious metals - had several objects stolen with a total value of nearly 115,000 euros. In April, the Clifton Park Museum in Rotherham, in the northern suburbs of Sheffield, was also the subject of the theft of a pair of silver tableware dated 1781.
According to The Art Newspaper, the police have not yet established a link between these different cases. The Sheffield Museums Directorate has nevertheless indicated that it is reviewing the state of security of the six establishments under its control. South Yorkshire Police has called on the population to remain vigilant against stolen objects that could, according to the authorities, "probably" re-emerge in the circuit of the art market and flea markets. The stolen set was displayed in a showcase of a temporary exhibition at the Kelham Island Museum, dedicated to the cutlery of the city. Sheffield is known to have been at the forefront of the English Industrial Revolution, from the eighteenth century, thanks to the steel industry of the region, fed by the nearby iron and coal mines.