Joseph Rodgers & Sons


No. 6 Norfolk Street, Joseph Rodgers' main showrooms and one of his works. ©Picture Sheffield

The company was founded in 1724 when John Rodgers first rented the star and Maltese cross mark from the Cutlers’ Company. He was renting a house workshop in Holy (Hawley) Croft, which used to be off Campo Lane. John’s three sons John, Joseph and Maurice joined the family business, which began to expand rapidly. In the 1780s the family moved into a block of workshops which would become their most famous address, No. 6 Norfolk Street. In 1800 Joseph and Maurice formally dissolved their partnership and the firm was renamed Joseph Rodgers & Sons. As well as producing an unrivaled range of pen and pocket knives, the company became famous for their exhibition cutlery, which showed off the skill of the cutlers working for them. These wonders could be seen in the company showrooms on Norfolk Street, which when opened in 1825 caused a sensation. There were very few showrooms within Sheffield, where visitors could come to look at and buy goods in plush surroundings. The first visitors did not even realise that the goods in the cabinets were for sale, the idea was so strange.

Joseph Rodgers had a reputation for producing the best quality items in Sheffield. In the company history Under Five Sovereigns (1911), it was said that in ‘Persia, India and Ceylon, the name…has entered into the language as an adjective expressing superlative quality.’ A café in Bombay [Mumbai] said that their food and drink was ‘all Rojers’ best things.’ Another story was of a British officer travelling in ‘Russian Turkistan’ who lost his Rodgers knife. A village headman commiserated with him because there were no more Rodgers knives made. When the officer objected the headman told him that a British traveller had given him a Rodgers knife and told him they could cut through iron, something a prisoner in chains had done. The King of England was very angry at losing his prisoner and cut off both of Rodgers’ arms at the elbow in punishment, to stop him making such good knives.

While continuing to make high quality products, the late Victorian period onwards were difficult for the company. By 1929 they had sold No. 6 Norfolk Street, and had been recording losses during the Great Depression. From a workforce of 1500 in 1914, the company had reduced to 325 employees in 1961. The company bought George Wostenholm & Son Ltd in 1971, however, it stopped trading by 1983. The name is now owned by Egginton Brothers and is still being stamped on Sheffield made cutlery today.




  • niamh

    very intresting i like to recomned to many people and i could not live without metal very well

  • My son inherited an old tool chest and found a Joseph Rogers & sons knife in it. We are just looking into how old it may be?

    • admin

      Good morning, yes it does still work. Sorry you have had a problem, please try again.

  • I recently purchased a piece of horn or tusk mounted in an ornate EP base made by Joseph Rodgers & Sons. Is there any way of dating it?

    • admin

      Good morning,
      the only way to accurately date organic material is by Carbon 14 testing, you would have to contact a professional lab to have that done.
      It wasn’t uncommon for firms like Rodgers to mount these specimens in ornate bases, they are usually late Victorian or early Edwardian. It would be difficult to narrow date a date though as EP marks or not very specifically datable like silver hallmarks.

      best wishes

  • Andrew Mackay

    I have a canteen of cutlery about +100 pieces marked. I deduce they were made in Sheffield in 1932 by Joseph Rogers. Do you think this is correct ? & what value do you think they are worth, Am after only an approx.estimate for storage purposes only,

  • Tony Eversley

    Hi I have a Joseph Rodgers and Sons triple side dish and I would like to find out some more information about it. Your help would be greatly appreciated thanks in advance

  • Hi,
    I have an old pipe tool made by Rodgers, could you help me please with the same question. Iam realy qurious how old it is?

  • Ken Peper

    I am sending several photos of a razor strop that I recently purchased at an estate sale. Judging from the condition, I am guessing that it is very old, possibly pre 1892 because the printed address is Sheffield only and does not include England. Also, the inscription is” cutlers to their majesties”, not “his majesty”. Directions for use are on the back side of the leather (?) holder but are extremely hard to read. Any info that you could offer including value would be much appreciated! Sorry, but now that I was going to submit, I saw no way to attach photos!


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