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Knife - Dinner, circa 1940 Object Reg. No: SH 850376

Summary:
Standard dinner knife with metal handle used in the dining room of a mental health hospital in Victoria Australia circa 1940. Roughly scratched on the handle is the number '4', indicating that the knife was part of the equipment of a Ward Number 4.
Description:
Standard dinner knife with metal handle. Minimal decoration, with an embossed line at the top of the metal handle. Most of the plating has worn off. The blade is wide, chipped, and blunt.
Statement Of Significance:
Example of dining equipment used by patients in a mental health hospital in Victoria Australia circa 1940. This is one of a number of pieces of cutlery that were collected by Dr Charles Brothers as he moved throughout the Victorian Mental Health institutions in the early 1950s, as part of his work of reforming the system. Like most of the others, this item shows extensive wear, tribute to the poverty of the system where implements were used for many years, rather than being replaced when they were worn. This knife also had the number '4' scratched into the handle, an attempt probably by a staff member to keep control of the equiment in his or her own ward. The Government tried to keep control over equipment within institutions such as psychiatric hospitals by stamping or labelling things when this could be done. This was an attempt to control pilfering from the institutions by staff and possibly patients: a problem that was substantial during the 1930s and 1940s.
Acquisition Information:
Donation from Office of Psychiatric Services
Discipline: History
Dimensions: 2.20 cm (Height), 23.00 cm (Length)

More information

Tagged with: hospitals, psychiatric services, making history - psych services
Themes this item is part of: Psychiatric Institutions of the Past, Psychiatric Services Collection, Medicine in Society Collection, Public Life & Institutions Collection, Diet & Nutrition in Victorian Mental Health Institutions
On Display at: Melbourne Museum
Primary Classification: MEDICINE & HEALTH
Secondary Classification: Mental Health - Institutional Life
Tertiary Classification: food & drink consumption
Inscriptions: SSP/SHEFFIELD STEEL PRODUCTS LTD./SHEFFIELD-ENGLAND engraved on blade
Manufacturer: Sheffield Steel Products Ltd., Sheffield, Yorkshire, England, Great Britain, circa 1930
Date Used: Victoria, Australia, circa 1940
References: oral history

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