Friday, February 19, 2010

Victorian Forks

The Victorians must have been fussy people.  They had a penchant for gadgets, a tool for each and every task from putting on shoes to eating an olive.  Just look at the array of objects that comprised a well-set table at the turn of the last century.  Multitudes of dishes and bowls, serving pieces and individual utensils, each in its proper place and used at the proper time for the proper task!

The typical upper-class dinner table was set with seven to nine or more pieces of silver flatware and individual serving pieces.  In her marvelous book, Antiques for the Table, author Sheila Cheefetz and photographer Joshua Greene present some beautiful prose and images of elegant formal table settings.  She describes a full service of Chantilly silverware from Gorham as having more than 100 different shapes (including) a cheese knife, a lemon fork, sugar tongs, butter knife, baby-food pusher, oyster fork, another butter knife, an ice-cream fork, a napkin marker, and a strawberry fork ... (and) olive fork.  Which one do you use first?

We recently put together this little collection of Victorian and Edwardian silver forks.  These include pickle forks, butter and cocktail picks, and lovely berry forks.  These are available for purchase online.

This long handled Verona pickle fork was made by Blackinton and Co. (now part of Towle Silver Co.) around 1905.  The grape clusters on the handle (both front and back) are wonderful.

There are a couple of superbly handcrafted forks (one marked Argentina) with neat little figural finials.  The pick with the well is complete with bucket, and the berry fork with the little warrior is marvelous.

These two little hand-crafted beauties are both picks, probably for hors d'oeuvres.  The handles are decorated and pierced with geometrical shapes.

Lunt Silversmiths of New England have been producing silver items for over a century.  This butter pick, with the twisted tine, is in the Mount Vernon pattern (from around 1905) back when the company was known as Rogers, Lunt and Bowlen Co.

This pickle or cocktail fork is a silver-plated (actually EPNS or electro-plated nickle silver) little  gem from Th. Marthinsen of Norway.  The pattern is Wild Rose, and while not terribly old, it is typical of the ubiquitous cocktail fork that still is in use today.

Frank Whiting created this delicate pattern, Damascus, back in 1894.  This is a three-tined berry fork.

These two lemon forks make one ask: Why?  It's hard to conceive a reason for a special utensil just to pick up a lemon!

My absolute favorite in this collection, are these two strawberry forks from Tiffany and Co.  These were made a century ago when the craftsmanship and design of Tiffany products were at their peak.  There is a wonderful little article about strawberry forks on the blog: The Five O'Clock Teaspoon.  How elegant.  How luscious.  How decadent!

1 comment :

  1. They may not be picking the lemon up, but holding it still to slice it!


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