3 November 2010

The Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum, Lichfield, Staffordshire, and a Letter Opener

After reading my blog post on Dr Samuel Johnson, Deanna from Australia sends me these two fascinating images of a brass letter opener (or letter knife) that she has, the head of which is a representation of Dr Johnson's birthplace - now a museum remembering his life and work - in Lichfield, south-east Staffordshire, England.

Deanna has tried the obvious places for information regarding the date it was made, etc, but no one seems to know anything about it. She writes that 'the inscriptions "DR JOHNSON'S HOUSE LICHFIELD" [are] on the front, and on the back, "R[egistered] D[esign] APPLIED FOR 15757."'

Can anyone help?


Anonymous said...

hello there thanks for your grat post, as usual ((o:

Anonymous said...

Great blogs, such an interesting way to read about these unique art forms.
I have been thinking about this letter-knife and wonder if it was a letter-knife that belonged to Dr Samuel Johnson himself? And maybe when patents were created, then it was later stamped with a registered number?

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Deanna said...

Hello, yes I suspect this object has a strong link with Johnson house, Lichfield. The meld would have been made well before patent was established, I believe Johnson was a person with huge influence and he was a pioneer in new trends. At the time he would certainly have been on the forefront of such a notion as patent, until then property being law without Patent. At the time, in his writings Samuel Johnson wrote of the social trends and the transition of notions, and how culture amongst people often contradicted ideals at the time. Historically the letter opener has significance, it’s completely blunt and has a nice solid weight to it, and it feels a comfortable balanced object to hold. The fact that one of the first Patent numbers is stamped in such a way that is interesting and official. The letter opener shows insight into early days of enlightenment.
Regards and blessings