Not currently on display at the V&A

Knife and Fork

1750-1820 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

In the 17th century it was not yet common for hosts to provide cutlery when entertaining guests to dinner. Most guests had their own personal eating implements, usually a knife and spoon, with a fork increasingly included towards the end of the century, which were carried in a fitted case. The culture of the day demanded that these ‘should not be merely polished and abundant but also rare and distinct.’ It was the sign of a gentleman that he possessed cutlery made of unusual and valuable materials, including filigree.

This knife and fork are very similar to the kind of cutlery made in Augsburg in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. However, the four prongs on the fork, and the plain band below the top on both pieces, would be unusual for cutlery of that date. It is more likely that they were made in Schleswig-Holstein, in north-west Germany, at the end of the 18th century, when sets of cutlery of archaic form were in common use as wedding gifts. The initials and date were often inscribed on the plain band.


Object details

Categories
Object type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Knife (Culinary Tool)
  • Fork
Materials and techniques
Brief description
Knife and fork with handles of silver filigree over gilt, the fork with silver-gilt tines, probably north Germany, 1750-1820.
Marks and inscriptions
Dolphin in a shaped frame. (On the collar of the knife, just above the blade, and on the front of the fork, just above the times.)
Credit line
Given by J. H. Fitzhenry
Summary
In the 17th century it was not yet common for hosts to provide cutlery when entertaining guests to dinner. Most guests had their own personal eating implements, usually a knife and spoon, with a fork increasingly included towards the end of the century, which were carried in a fitted case. The culture of the day demanded that these ‘should not be merely polished and abundant but also rare and distinct.’ It was the sign of a gentleman that he possessed cutlery made of unusual and valuable materials, including filigree.

This knife and fork are very similar to the kind of cutlery made in Augsburg in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. However, the four prongs on the fork, and the plain band below the top on both pieces, would be unusual for cutlery of that date. It is more likely that they were made in Schleswig-Holstein, in north-west Germany, at the end of the 18th century, when sets of cutlery of archaic form were in common use as wedding gifts. The initials and date were often inscribed on the plain band.
Bibliographic reference
For similar, see: Amme, Jochen, 'Historische Bestecke', Arnoldsche, 2002, ISBN 3897901676, fig. 539.
Collection
Accession number
1056&A-1902

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Record createdMarch 23, 2005
Record URL
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