I love to collect objects that are not only beautiful but useful in daily life as well. Today, I've gathered a collection of paper knives and letter openers for you. In days past, these tools were used to open envelopes and slit the uncut pages of books. While books are generally made with clean, trimmed pages these days (I for one am still happy to bind books in the old way-- I love the deckled effect of pages slit by hand after binding...), a beautiful letter opener or paper knife still has a useful place on an elegant desk.
|An early 20th century gold-mounted jadeite paper knife, attributed to Faberge. |
Because of their lovely fitted boxes, many of Faberge's objets d'art have survived
a century or more in perfect condition.
|A fabulous English sterling and tortoiseshell paper knife from Asprey. This |
multi-purpose tool can be used as a page turner, paper knife, letter opener and has a perpetual calendar fitted in the handle--wonderful!
The everyday task of opening envelopes can be swiftly and satisfyingly accomplished by a number of antique desk tools intended for alternative purposes. Page turners were designed to help cultivated newspaper readers avoid ink stained fingers. But with their very long and delicate blades, they often survive in a shortened state, making them perfect for the task of opening envelopes.
|A diminutive Victorian silver paper knife with a chain that would have allowed|
it to be hung from a chatelaine.
|Victorian mother of pearl and tortoiseshell paper knife,.|
Image courtesy of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
|An early 20th century McBeth Tartanware pen knife|
Early pen knives were used to trim quills, and are similar in design to more modern multi-purpose folding knives like the one above. Both make excellent desk companions.
|A second Russian paper knife with Faberge and Nicola Schepelew marks.|
This one features a jadeite blade, white guilloché enamelwork,
and the Russian double-headed eagle coat of arms.
I especially love the beautiful gold swan head at the end.
|And now for something completely different: Charles Dickens' eccentric|
paper knife, with an ivory blade and a handle made from his beloved cat's paw.
The blade is engraved: "C. D. In Memory of Bob 1862" the year of Bob's death.