A PREVIOUSLY-UNSEEN artifact owned by famous engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel is now on display at the Steam Museum.

A 46cm-long paper knife owned and used by Brunel in the 1830s has just been acquired by the museum and is part of the Building the Railway exhibition area.

Museum manager Frances Yeo said: “This is a really lovely object with a hugely significant and fascinating history. With an ivory blade and ebony handle, the paper knife includes a decorative silver neck bearing the inscription IKB.

“It dates from when Brunel was chief engineer for the Great Western Railway and would have been used to slit open the uncut pages of newspapers and other large documents.

“We are delighted that Steam has been able to acquire Brunel’s paper knife, and excited to be able to put it on public display for the first time.

“The paper knife has an excellent provenance, having been given to the vendor’s ancestors as a gift by Brunel’s son, Henry Marc Brunel.

“On close inspection of J C Horsley’s famous portrait of Brunel at his desk, our curatorial team think that Brunel’s paper knife is shown in this painting."

The purchase was made possible by a generous contribution from the Friends of Swindon Railway Museum and also from visitor donations to Steam’s Acquisition Fund. Ms Yeo thanked everyone who helped make the new acquisition possible.