This is Collosal posted a lovely little video a few days ago, showing how one small century-old firm in Sheffield still “puts-together” scissors in the old way:
It’s been a popular video. It’s been a very popular video. In fact, it went viral.
The staff at Ernest Wright and Son Limited have been overwhelmed with interest from people who saw the video and decided they wanted a pair of hand-made scissors. A member of one of my mailing lists says he just got this response from the company about his order (placed before the video went online):
Dear Madam or Sir,
Firstly, may we thank you VERY MUCH for ordering a pair (or more) of our Hand-made in Sheffield England, Ernest Wright and Son Limited scissors.
Secondly, may I please take a moment to explain our current situation.
As you doubtless know, Shaun Bloodworth’s film “The Putter” was uploaded to the internet on Monday 23rdJune. We had been very much looking forward to seeing this film, if purely as an educational exercise documenting the immense skills of the ‘putter-togetherer’.
What we might not have expected was that Shaun’s own amazing skill, coupled with the gorgeous sound work from The Black Dog (wow!), would make such a beautiful and sensory-encompassing experience of something we just see our Cliff and Eric do every day.
And what we REALLY didn’t expect was for this film to go ‘viral’! This was not a ‘commercial launch’ by any means at all; so much as Shaun merely uploading the film for us back here in the factory to see. The power of the internet is truly an incredible and awesome thing.
This has rather caught us at an ‘interesting’ time. We have not been doing particularly well for a number of years as a business and have worryingly dwindled in size. Recently we actually had to make further redundancies and at a few times have thought that the end was truly nigh for Ernest Wright’s altogether. Cheap scissors are ubiquitous; no-one seems (seemed!) particularly interested in how scissors are made any more, and hardly anyone understood paying the price for a good pair – regardless of how we have ever tried to explain it. (Enter Shaun and “The Putter” – and what a benefit, hopefully, to us all!)
There are now just the five of us here in our little business:
Cliff and Eric are our putter-togetherers, although Cliff does the vast majority of the putting whilst Eric is also a skilled hand-grinder and finisher. Eric’s hands are actually those seen working the ‘insider’ machine in The Putter, linishing the inside of the bows (handles) with sparks flying in either direction. These two are both working through retirement years now – purely helping me to keep something we feel is so important, alive.
It would be remiss of me not to mention Ian, who eventually only retired last autumn (2013). All three can be seen here together by the way in a 2012 BBC documentary – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IitTC4PqcOI
These chaps have never earned too much – and there honestly hasn’t been too much to earn for a while. But they work hard; so very, very hard. And until around about this Tuesday, they had incredibly little appreciation for their life’s devotion to their craft. I am genuinely so touched that they are finally getting a mention, they so thoroughly deserve it.
We also now have young Jamie and Ryan, who are ‘the young blood’ apprentices and have been with us for around two years now. They began by learning tapping, grinding, then linishing, and are now slowly learning the full art of putting-together themselves – although not at all yet commercially. Practice will one day hopefully make them perfect.
Finally I am the managing director, van driver, salesman, go-fetcher and hopelessly-part-time receptionist. Ernest Wright was my great-grandfather, who formed the company in 1902. I took over when my father almost decided to close the business in 2012, and have since made it my mission in life to save these skills and their type – particularly in Sheffield, the hometown I am so very proud of.
So. Basically after a very long spell of quiet, since around Tuesday morning this week we have been suddenly inundated. With (gratefully) telephone calls, emails, tweets, views, messages, letters and (very gratefully) individual orders. I am honestly struggling to keep up at the moment. The telephone system has crashed and my inbox cannot download fast enough.
Regardless my aim is this: everyone who has ordered a pair of Cliff and Eric’s wonderful-handiwork scissors will receive them; as speedily and safely as is possible.
Ironically Cliff had gone off a well-earned holiday on Monday, and will be sitting in a deck chair in Filey or somewhere for the next week yet – hopefully wondering why on earth he is being asked for an autograph! He knows nothing about his new-found ‘internet popularity’, although he will be completely shy and modest about it as always when he finds out. Only Shaun’s down-to-earth and inconspicuous approach led him to be even filmed in the first place. Regardless I’m sure he will be pleased he can “learn some more” and get cracking with his hammer upon his return.
I cannot honestly promise how long these scissors are going to take to get to you at the moment! we haven’t yet worked out how many of each type are even required. Then they take a little while to be made – but you might know that now! One thing we won’t do, because Cliff and Eric would refuse every time, is to ‘do a rush job’. Your scissors might not always look quite perfect either, but that’s not what we 100% care about. Every pair might have a tiny mark, a scratch, a blemish or even the odd hammer dent, but that is precisely because they are hand, and not machine, made. They are made to be used, not looked at, is our opinion. What we concentrate on more than anything is that they work. Perfectly, every time. I actually reckon you that you can see that in Cliff’s face though, I’ve seen that a thousand times off-camera too.
We are working on strict order-date basis. I am hoping to keep up with at least broadcast emails for the next week until we see how much of a potential flash-in-the-pan this may be. It would be sadly more ironical than anything if this great new interest hurt us rather than helped, so please give me some time to address this situation properly? Meantime we have managed to send out quite a lot of orders already but the previous held-stock is now very low and new orders are still arriving! The lads are certainly preparing to get busy – apart from poor oblivious Cliff in his deckchair at the moment of course.
If orders are going to take more than one month to arrive, I will try to let you know in the next week? I hope that’s ok, it is honestly the very best we can do for now!
If you would prefer a refund, of course I understand completely. Please email me by reply to firstname.lastname@example.org the title just “REFUND” and at least your order number (usually 4 digits) in the text. I will then get to it as soon as I also can.
Meantime THANK YOU so much, both to old followers and many new friends, for this amazing and wonderful support. This might be our chance for once to shine again. I will try my level best to reciprocate as much as I possibly can.
Yours with kindest regards,
Ernest Wright and Son Limited