A History of the World in a Dozen Objects: Number 8 - My Small Knife
- Posted May 24, 2011 by Jon Laysell Viewed 695 times
This used to be my nan's knife. She used to use it for minor household tasks like opening letters and peeling oranges. As a child I was absolutely fascinated with it. Fascinated to the point where I was given it, probably just to shut me up. You see there was something that to a small boy was absolutely mesmerising ?? even more than a normal knife would mesmerise a small boy.
The story of my knife could be the story of George Butler's cutlery company. It could be the story of how Sheffield supplied the world with knives. The story of iron and coal and steel. But it isn't, it's the story of something far bigger and far more horrific.
Unusually, what attracted me to the knife was not the blade but the handle. It's not the original handle. This is a replacement handle made out of a bullet. Someone (I believe my granddad) had welded the bullet and the blade together to make one.
I can't say for certain, but I believe the bullet is from WWI as my granddad served in the navy then. That is a war that started with a single bullet when on 28th June 1914, Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was shot in the neck; the bullet severed his jugular vein. Within minutes the Archduke lay dead in the Sarajevo street where his driver had taken a wrong turn. Within a month Austria declared war on Serbia. By 1st August Germany declared war on Russia and two days later on France and Belgium. The next day Britain declared war on Germany. Over the next four years some 39* countries joined in. Over 35 million died.
That war was triggered by a single bullet. Though it is true to say that the war might not have happened when it did without that shot, it would have probably have happened at sometime as tensions were already high anyway. One thing is for sure, bullets aren't really something to get excited about.
Baldrick's Bullet [youtube.com]
*Actually this is a big underestimate as it includes the British, French and German empires as one country each. Also all of the colonies of Belgium, Italy and Portugal are counted as one.
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