A saddler and harness maker's steel round leather knife

A saddler and harness maker's steel round leather knife made by Richard Timmins & Sons, Birmingham. It has had a curved horn handle added to the shaft, replacing the original rounded handle that was probably made of wood. The knife was possibly intended for trading with Inuit as it is a similar shape to an ulu (semi-circular bladed knife) used by Inuit women for a range of activities like skinning and cleaning animal carcasses, and cutting foods.

The knife is one of four obtained by the Franklin Search Expedition,1864-9, led by Captain Charles F. Hall, while he was in Pelly Bay [Kugaaruk], Boothia Peninsula. All four were obtained from various sites in the Arctic: two originated on King William Island, one came from Pelly Bay, and one was associated with Edward Parry's winter camp during 1822-3 at Iglulik. They were presented to the Royal Naval Museum by Sophia Cracroft, Sir John Franklin's niece. The number '3' painted on the knife indicates it was displayed at the Royal Naval Museum, Greenwich, Case 4, 'No. 3. Oo-loo or women's knives.'

A pattern book for R. Timmins & Son, Birmingham, published 1845-50, shows a knife with a similar blade set in a turned wooden handle among illustrations of 'Sadlers and Harness Tools', reference number 301A. These knives, in various sizes were priced at 18 shillings, twenty-one shillings and twenty-four shillings per dozen.

Object Details

ID: AAA2615
Collection: World Cultures
Type: Ulu (knife)
Display location: Display - Atlantic Gallery
Creator: Timmins, R & Sons; Richard Timmins & Sons
Events: Arctic Exploration: Franklin Search Expedition, Hall, 1864-1869
Date made: Early 19th century; circa 1821
Exhibition: North-West Passage
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Overall: 90 x 100 x 30 mm

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