In the 1624 Act of Incorporation which established the Sheffield-based Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire, there was a clause stating that all blades must have an edge of steel. The Company inspected manufactured items and policed the use of cutlers’ identifying marks. Searchers were entitled to enter workshops to seek ‘deceitful wares’ — blades without steel or otherwise of poor quality. Because they also monitored the registration of the cutlers’ marks, the Searchers could identify manufacturers. The Company’s maintenance of restrictions led to conflicts with Sheffield cutlers who wanted to respond to economic change and to developments in iron and steel manufacture in the 18th and 19th centuries. Using the records of the Cutlers’ Company, this paper traces the Company’s efforts to deal with cast-iron goods and to restrict the use of trademarks which made claims over the quality of the metal in the blade.
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