What is the Difference Between a Penknife and a Pocket Knife?

In today’s blog, Peter Smithurst, Curator Emeritus of Historical Firearms at the Royal Armouries explains the difference between a penknife and a pocket knife. I was asked recently about terminology in cutlery, especially pen and pocket knives. Firstly, when is a penknife a pocket knife? Traditionally a penknife was used of course for cutting a quill pen. Its blade was fairly small and had a razor-edge. To enable it to hold an edge, the blade was also very hard whichRead more

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s campaign for better armour on the Western Front: Part three

  Part Three: Private Companies Written by Philip Abbot  Archives and Records Manager for the Royal Armouries in Leeds. At least eighteen designs for armour using steel plate, mail and even textiles were manufactured commercially in Britain during the First Word War, and no less than forty patents for helmets and armour were taken out in Britain between 1914 and 1918. It comes as no surprise therefore to learn that Conan Doyle also received letters from a number of private companiesRead more

Meet the horses: Ocle

Age: 8 Breed: Andalusian Sex: stallion Height: 15.2 Speciality: airs above the ground Ocle is a bold and confidant stallion. With extensive experience in film work and live performance, his courage and intelligence is easily admired! Trained to strike shields, gallop through flames and leap high off the ground in graceful airs above the ground, Ocle is a perfect example of the qualities desired in a war horse. During the Royal Armouries Easter tournament, you will have the chance to see BenRead more

The Curator @ War: 19 October 1915 “Bananas & Battleships”

Fernando Buschmann was the seventh of 11 spies shot at the Tower between November 1914 and April 1916, and at 25 years old the second youngest. A Brazilian, with German father and Danish mother, he was educated in Europe.  The failure of his French aviation enterprise saw him back in Brazil. From 1912 he returned to Europe working in partnership with Marcelino Bello in a business importing food from Germany and England and exporting Brazilian bananas and potatoes. He metRead more

Letters at the Front

A number of small personal archives from the York and Lancaster Regiment were recently digitised by the First World War Archives Project. Joe Williams, a remote volunteer for the project, explores the importance of soldier’s mail in light of these. Life on the Western Front could be deadly, but it could also be dead boring. Waiting around for orders, marching to new locations, digging trenches :- when the fighting ceased, there was little to do. Moreover, it was an isolatedRead more

APRIL FOOL!

The proposed attack of the ‘Easter bunnies’ was clearly intended – though very well thought out and well planned – as an April Fool. Making this a 100 year old joke! The Letter was sent to the War Office and was opened by a Major C.P Deedes of the Kings Own Light Infantry, who was working as a General Staff Officer (Grade 3) at the time. Major Deedes wrote in his diary in response to the letter: Major Deedes clearlyRead more