One of the more unusual areas of my collecting is anything to do with the Indian Army Canteen Board. So far I have covered a plate here and a couple of items of cutlery here. Happily, a good friend of mine who knows I am interested in this institution steered me towards another piece to add to this collection, a pair of nutcrackers:These are a heavy and well-made pair and on one arm of the nutcrackers is the badge of the Indian Army Canteen Board:The design of this badge is a little simplified compared to the other pieces I have, the outer scroll and motto deleted to help it fit better onto the space it is stamped. The crackers themselves consist of two arms, linked to a central hinge piece:As you might expect from something in which a lot of force is used to break the shell of a nut, the hinge is a substantial piece and exceptionally well put together. Nutcrackers have been used since Roman times, but the ‘pliers’ type, such as this one, that use the principles of a lever to exert enough pressure to crack a nut only really became popular in the nineteenth century. The two paddles which grip the nut are serrated to prevent the nut and its shell from slipping out whilst they are being opened:These nutcrackers were manufactured in Sheffield, England, by a company called Hutton:This cutler was founded in the ‘steel city’ in 1800 and by the turn of the twentieth century were one of the largest cutlery manufacturers in the country, specifically advertising their wares as being suitable for home or export. They were renowned for their silverware, but also made more humble items such as these nutcrackers.
This now beings me up to four pieces from this long forgotten military institution and I will hopefully come across some more pieces in the not too distant future.