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George Wostenholm & Son, Sheffield.

Rockingham Works 1809(1815) - 1848.
Washington Works  1848 - 1978.

George Wostenholm became a Freeman in 1826 and was granted the mark he was to make famous - I*XL - a mark originally granted to William A.Smith at 29th June, 1787.
The I*XL letters are pronounced nearly the same as the statement, "I excell" (from the word "excellent").
The company also acquired the Pipe trademark from William Hutchinson in 1843 (which was granted at 22nd Dec., 1694 and Wostenholm described as the oldest mark on the Company of Cutlers' register).

The pages from The Law Times Reports: Lambert's Trade Mark.
From the article appeared in Knife World, 1984:
"In 1888, the Wostenholm company appealed the decision of the Sheffield Cutlers Company to register to a new proprietor a pipe trademark with the addition of a dart. Wostenholm claimed this to be an infringement because the original user of the mark long been dead. This mark shows in the 1919 Register as belonging to Geo.Wostenholm & Son Ltd."

There were two type of the Wostenholm frameback razors:
1. The gold colored print pressed into the dark horn handle says : "George Wostenholm & Son's, Doubly Carbonised I*XL Razor", "Registered Sep.10, 1850. No.2434". The handle has brass pins and a metal spacer.
The razor's shank is stamped "The I*XL Improved Swiss", "manufactured solely by", "George Wostenholm & Son".
2. A second similar razor (on the picture above) has much the same shape to its black horn handle and frameback blade.
The frame back portion of this blade is flattened slightly and stamped "Geo. Wostenholm & Son's Doubly Carbonized I*XL razor".
The frameback and the blade's edge have a curve to them instead of being straight. The curve is about the same as that made by the razor's handle. The shank has a diamond shaped mark and is stamped inside the mark "Registered", "10 Sep.", "1850", "No 2434", "I*XL".
The frameback style continued to be sold for decades though not in great number.

Eraser/desk knife.

At the end ...
After the WWII, when part of  Washington Works was destroyed by a German bomb, Wostenholm's was poorly positioned to exploit the economic upturn in the 1950s and early 1960s. Competition was also growing from the Far East, which would eventually drive Wostenholm's out of business. In 1961, the firm made several acquisitions - for example, Christopher Johnson, Champion - to strengthen the company, especially in the scissor market. However, in 1971 Wostenholm itself was bought by Joseph Rodgers and the new company, Rodgers-Wostenholm, moved to Guernsey Road. In 1975 this joint firm was bought by Richards, which in turn was bought in 1977 by Imperial Knife, an American firm based in New York. However, the business never made money for its American owners and by 1983 the Richards-Rodgers-Wostenholm group was bankrupt. Washington Works and the company records had been demolished in 1978. The I*XL mark was acquired by Egginton.
It was the end of a remarkable story.

22.10.2008, 12:57

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