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  • Place of origin:

    Germany (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1650 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Ivory, gilt metal mounts and an amber bead

  • Credit Line:

    From the Salting Bequest

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This fork (and spoon that is part of the set) are made in Germany in ca. 1650. Knives have been used since prehistoric times, but the history of knives, forks and spoons for eating in Europe probably commenced in the fourteenth century, and their use became accepted by the sixteenth century. Until the late seventeenth century it seems to have been common practice for people to carry their own cutlery, often in a leather case.
Ebony, ivory, fish skin, tortoiseshell, amber, bone, horn and shell were all popular for decorating cutlery. Around 1730 ceramic handles were introduced to Europe from China. Although cutlers were required by their guilds to be able to make a complete knife, handles of carved ivory, silver, bronze and glass were usually imported or made by specialist craftsmen.

Physical description

The handles of this fork (and the spoon that is part of the set) are carved with fantastical creatures, serpents, a putto and fruit.

Place of Origin

Germany (made)


ca. 1650 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Ivory, gilt metal mounts and an amber bead


Length: 16.4 cm whole, Length: 8 cm ivory alone

Object history note

From the Salting Bequest in 1910; previously Spitzer Sale, Paris, 1893, lots 2391-2 (sold for 300 francs).

Descriptive line

Fork, ivory, gilt-metal mounts and and amber bead, part of a set, German, ca. 1650

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

p. 418
Trusted, Marjorie, Baroque & Later Ivories, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 2013


Ivory; Metal; Amber


Carving; Gilding

Subjects depicted

Serpents; Creatures; Putto; Fruit


Household objects; Eating


Metalwork Collection

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