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Long steel knife with ivory handle and silver edging, by Charrière, Paris, 1820-1865

The purpose of this large knife is uncertain. Most probably it was used to showcase the maker’s skill and workmanship in manipulating both metal and ivory. It may well have formed part of a shop window display. Joseph-Frédéric Benoît Charrière (1803-76) was a Swiss surgical instrument based in Paris at a time when specialist surgical instrument makers were emerging. He was an innovator who suggested many designs and improvements for instruments. In 1865, Charrière decided to sell his successful company to two of his pupils, including Adolphe Collin who renamed the company Collin & Company. In 1930 the company became Charrière, Collin and Gentile. The company’s collections were sold at auction in 1978, where this object was purchased.

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