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Fish slice

Fish slice

  • Place of origin:

    New Paltz, New York (made)

  • Date:

    1991 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Matzdorf, Kurt, born 1922 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Sterling silver, engraved, pierced and forged

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the American Friends of the V&A through the generosity of Professor B. Seymour Rabinovitch

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Silver, Room 66, The Whiteley Galleries, case 10

This server is a modern rendition of the eighteenth century trowel form. The artist has injected a personal flavour and a sense of fun in the asymmetry of the blade and the truncated slanted front edge. The pleasing curves of the blade are continued through the daringly steep bolster-apron lift, highly polished to give a variety of textures. The concave curved handle balances the trowel-shaped blade and has a roller-imprinted cloth pattern. The functional aspect of this solid piece is clear through the tactile texturing of the handle with a polished multiple-finger grip on the underside and the generous size of the blade. The frank structural design is complemented by the light-hearted scene, man eating fish, a very literal interpretation of the fish server's use.

Physical description

The bevelled blade is of asymmetric trowel shape with a truncated, slanted front edge. It is engraved and pierced with fish forms that are threatened by a voracious pursuer. The heavy handle is carried by a large vertical concave bolster apron lift at the rear of the blade. It has a roller imprinted cloth pattern topside and a polished multiple finger grip on its underside. A large script R has been applied to the butt end as a personal touch (for the commissioner).

Place of Origin

New Paltz, New York (made)


1991 (made)


Matzdorf, Kurt, born 1922 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Sterling silver, engraved, pierced and forged

Marks and inscriptions

Maker's monogram for Kurt Matzdorf



R (for Seymour Rabinovitch).


Length: 34 cm, Weight: 496 g, Height: 3 cm, Width: 8 cm

Object history note

Matzdorf was motivated to inject fun back into the silversmithing scene while creating beautiful silverware, this piece is delightfully novel, depicting a humourous scene of fish fleeing from a voracious pursuer. Commissioned by Professor Benton Seymour Rabinovitch for his collection of contemporary fish slices given to the Victoria and Albert Museum through the American Friends in 2005.

Fairfax House Fish & Cake Slice exhibition RF.2004/419

Historical significance: Matzdorf was struck by the sobriety of the silversmithing craft when he began in 1953, “it appeared to me to be almost a wasteland”. In his designs Matzdorf injects humour and personality, drawing from all artistic traditions in his pursuit of the creation of beautiful silverware.

Historical context note

Part of a collection of fish slices commissioned by Professor Rabinovitch from contemporary North American and British makers.

Descriptive line

Silver, United States, New Paltz, New York, 1981, mark of Kurt Matzdorf.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Benton Seymour Rabinovitch and Helen Clifford, Contemporary Silver, London, Merrell, 200. pp.132-3. ill. ISBN. 1858941040

Labels and date


This collection of silver slices, all commissioned over a period of twenty years by Professor Benton Seymour Rabinovitch FRS, is proof of the skill and diversity of contemporary silversmiths. Each artist craftsman has responded to the familiar functional form of the slice in an individual way, producing an astonishingly diverse range of interpretations. Each piece becomes an enchanting, decorative work of art. Professor Rabinovitch established a close rapport with each artist, always encouraging a freedom of creative expression. The response of these silversmiths has been not only to be strikingly imaginative but also to honour him by giving him their best work.

This collection is testimony to the significant contribution that one individual can make to supporting the craft of silversmithing. After commissioning work from some of the most illustrious names in British and North American silversmithing, Professor Rabinovitch has very generously donated his entire collection to the Victoria and Albert Museum, through the American Friends of the V&A. [2005]




Engraving (incising); Piercing; Forging (metal forming); Polishing

Subjects depicted

Man; Fishes


Eating; Metalwork


Metalwork Collection

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