The Hawley Collection is important not only because of the range and number of items – over 100,000 in total - but also because it includes examples of raw materials, objects at different stages of production and the ‘tools that made tools’. One of Ken Hawley’s great interests was to understand how things were made and used and to appreciate the skills and techniques of Sheffield’s traditional craftsmen. His background as a tool merchant also gave him an insight into the business of selling and the collection includes examples of packaging, advertising and promotional material.
Sheffield’s great industries of tool making, especially edge tools, cutlery manufacture and silversmithing form the core of the collection along with another lesser known industry, the manufacture of precision measuring instruments. There are also examples from other British manufacturing centres and from other countries. Tools were made in a huge variety of patterns and sizes to meet the specialist requirements of different trades and crafts and this is reflected in the range of trade tools in the collection.
Alongside the objects in the collection there are archives and printed material, catalogues, photographs, films and sound recordings. These often relate directly to objects in the collection and so help to increase our knowledge and understanding. They also provide an invaluable research and educational resource and the Hawley Collection welcomes visitors and enquirers.