The History of George Ibberson

Ibberson is a famous and popular name in the Sheffield cutlery industry. From the mid-17th century to the beginning of the 19th century, there were just under a hundred Sheffield cutlers named Ibberson (or Ibbotson). A cutler named William Ibberson operated in the Stannington area to the north west of Sheffield as long ago as 1666, but it has been claimed that the origins of the George Ibberson company can be traced back to a Joseph Ibberson who made cutlery in 1700.

This was a period when the concept of a firm as we know it now was unknown to the Sheffield cutlery industry. Instead, there existed a large number of self employed cutlers operating as individuals. These skilled, specialised craftsmen are often referred to as “Little Mesters” and would go on to feature heavily throughout the industry’s history.

Records show that in the mid-1700’s there was a Joseph Ibberson and son making cutlery on Sheffield’s Norfolk Street. In 1759 Joseph became Master Cutler. As part of his responsibilities as Master Cutler, Joseph was put in charge of a ‘steel making adventure’ which aimed to create cast crucible cheaper steel for the cutlery industry using new processes invented by Benjamin Huntsman. In addition to his business, Joseph also ran the tilt hammers at The Wicker in Sheffield.

It is not clear when the company George Ibberson came into being, but with industrialisation and expanding global markets, what started out as a small-scale affair developed into a profitable cutlery empire. Ibberson became famous for producing the finest Pocket Knives featuring exotic handle materials like ivory, pearl and tortoiseshell. They also produced a wide range of cutlery, razors, scissors and sports knives. In 1873, the company registered its world famous Stradivarius Violin trademark with The Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire. This mark, along with Ibberson’s other great trademark, Doublesharp ##, would go on to gain legendary status amongst knife enthusiasts the world over.

In August 1913, it is widely reputed that the first stainless steel was developed in Sheffield by Harry Brearley, then a lead researcher at the city’s Brown Firth Laboratories. In early 1914 Ibberson made knife blades from stainless steel. Interestingly, whilst Ibberson confirmed the materials rust resisting qualities, they dismissed the material as being too hard to work and grind to be suitable for cutlery.

A second Ibberson, William (“Billy”), became Master Cutler in 1954. An influential businessman, he was involved in the formation of Sheffield’s Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet where a tilt hammer, just like the one his forefather, Joseph would have ran at The Wicker, can be seen in operation. A film titled “Made in Sheffield” made by Billy Ibberson while he was Master Cutler can be seen online at the Yorkshire Film Archive.

When Billy was Master Cutler, The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visited The Cutlers Hall. He gave them a pair of presentation Pocket Knives. As is customary, Billy received a penny from the Royal couple for each in return.

Success continued through the 20th century with Ibberson introducing its world famous Action Knife range. Razor-sharp blades and virtually unbreakable handles have made them the knife of choice by tradesmen and farmers the world over.

George Ibberson was owned and run by the family until the early 1980’s. In 1983 it was acquired by and became part of The Egginton Group. The finest pocket and fixed blade knives bearing the Ibberson name are still manufactured in our Sheffield factories and we continue to build on our 300 plus years of expertise.

See our current product range...