The paperknife provides a personal glimpse into the frenetic life of a highly energetic man. With so many tasks going on at once, it’s reasonable to expect that Brunel’s daily correspondence was extensive, and the paper knife was always at his side.
STEAM is very grateful to the Friends of Swindon Railway Museum, who have made it possible for STEAM to purchase this fascinating object. In addition to the generous funding contribution from the Friends, this purchase was also made possible by visitors who have kindly donated to STEAM’s Acquisition Fund.
The 46cm long Brunel paper knife is significant because of its age and its impeccable provenance, having been gifted by Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s son Henry Marc Brunel to the family whose successors STEAM acquired it. Made in the 1830s of ebony and ivory with silver decorations and used to separate and turn uncut pages of newspapers, this one object represents much that was typical of its time but with which we are no longer familiar.
The Friends of Swindon Railway Museum were delighted to help fund the cost of bringing the paper knife to STEAM, where it joined other Isambard Kingdom Brunel artefacts part-funded by the Friends, such as the drawing instrument set.” Steve Gregory, secretary for the Friends of Swindon Railway Museum.