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.

Physical 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.


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.

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