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Fish slice

Fish slice

  • Place of origin:

    Chicago (made)

  • Date:

    1993 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Frederick, William, born 1921 (designer and maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Sterling silver, pierced

  • Credit Line:

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

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This server recalls the simple trowel form, so called "Queen Anne" style, of the eighteenth century, enhanced by the cleanly bevelled edges and the polished finish. The originality and flair of the piece lies in the contrast between the starkly simple form and the bold Art Deco lettering. The cleverly designed pierced inscription can be read from either side. The pierced finial balances the shape of the trowel creating a comfortable aesthetic. Further contrast lies in the utilitarian connotations of the spanner contradicting the Art Deco allusions to opulence and luxury.

Physical description

The server blade has the shape of a round bladed trowel. The flat forged handle is attached to a wide rear apron that provides lift. The handle carries an applied pierced finial decoration that echoes the blade shape. The latter is pierced in an ingenious oval pattern with repetition of the word FISH which also reads when the server is turned over. The blade is bevelled on all its edges. The server has a polished finish.

Place of Origin

Chicago (made)


1993 (made)


Frederick, William, born 1921 (designer and maker)

Materials and Techniques

Sterling silver, pierced

Marks and inscriptions



Length: 35 cm, Weight: 410 g

Object history note

Historical significance: William Frederick strives to design within the set limits while never compromising his personal style and artistry. By using the letters of the alphabet to provide texture to the blade Frederick gives the server a contemporary feel, while the wide rear apron alludes to the functionality of the piece.

Historical context note

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

Descriptive line

Silver, USA, Chicago, Illinois, 1993, designed and made by William Frederick.

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

Benton Seymour Rabinovitch and Helen Clifford, Contemporary Silver, commissioning, designing, collecting, London, Merrell, 2000, pp. 120-21. 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]




Piercing; Bevelling; Polishing


Metalwork; Eating


Metalwork Collection

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