These were two boxed sets of very high-quality Sheffield steel – steak knives in one box, and carving implements in the other. Made in the 1950s, they were given pearl plastic handles which were originally strong and resilient. The makers probably thought that they were superior to the somewhat fragile mother-of-pearl that might originally have been used. These boxes lay unopened for about fifty years, and upon opening revealed that the plastic handles had completely degraded – leaving the Sheffield blades as bright as the day they were made.
The descendants decided that these knives were too fine to lose, and asked us what would be a truly durable – yet beautiful – replacement. After some thought, we decided to use a very densely grained olive wood that we cut into matching handles and then soaked with a non-yellowing epoxy (a little yellowing would actually be fine somewhere down the road). The blades were then cleaned and roughened and set with epoxy into the new handles. We think that, where mother-of-pearl, wood, and even horn will crack or flake after fifty years (and certainly most plastics), these impregnated, dense handles will remain beautiful for many years.