A beautiful focal point and kitchen accessory: a rare Kent's London, England knife cleaner dated 1865-1870 with original porcelain label. A useful and visually appealing historical piece invented and patented by George Kent.
Kent was born in 1806 and apprenticed to the wire work trade in Chelsea ( a borough of London known for its upper class citizens and high end shops). He worked as a window blind maker for a time while he worked on inventing his knife cleaner. He was given a patent on June 12, 1844 for the knife cleaning machine, when he set up shop at 329 Strand, 218 Regent St and 101 Holborn, until 1854, and at 199 High Holborn from 1854 to his death. While the knife cleaner was his claim to fame and his most prominent piece of inventory, he also manufactured other domestic time-saving machines, including whisks, strainers, sifters, and washing machines. He died on May 23, 1890.
The knife cleaner he became so famous for is a wooden drum set vertically on cast iron base with four feet (each with a hole for a nail for mounting to tabletop,) a hand crank and four slots in top of drum for inserting knives for cleaning. In order to use the machine, a person would insert knives into slots on the top of the wooden drum, pour Kent's emery powder into the drum's chute, and crank the winch handle to start the cleaning process. Inside the machine, wooden discs covered with alternate rows of bristles and strips of leather would turn and rub against both sides of the knives. The emery powder polished the steel cutlery as it passed through the wooden discs. By the end of the nineteenth century, Kent's patented rotary knife-cleaning machines were used in British colonies, the Americas, had won international exhibition prize medals, and had sold over 100,000 machines. The cleaners came in eight different sizes, ranging in price from £3 and 18 shillings to £14 and 14 shillings. The largest size could clean nine table or dessert knives and the smallest versions cleaned 3-5 knives.
Condition: Very Good
Dimensions: H 17” x W 19” x D 15”
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