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Sardine fork

Sardine fork

  • Place of origin:

    England, Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1875-1900 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    unknown (production)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Electroplated nickel silver, with celluloid handle

  • Museum number:

    M.32-2000

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, room 125b, case 2

  • Download image

Object Type
The complicated dining etiquette of the period encouraged the development of specific utensils for eating and serving particular foods. Sardine forks were a Victorian refinement for serving the expensive and popular tinned fish.

Dining Etiquette
Dining etiquette formed an important part of the Victorian code of polite society. The Manners and Tone of Good Society, first published in 1879, outlined the correct conduct of the dinner party but focused on the complicated and changing use of cutlery. With a few exceptions (such as for eating bread and some fruit) touching food with the fingers was frowned upon. Diners were presented with an alarming and growing range of specialist utensils for eating particular foods. It was important to be able to recognise items such as lobster picks, sardine forks and grape scissors, and to know how to use them correctly.

Design & Designing
The engraved fish incorporated into the design suggests the fork's function. However, the broad, five-pronged shape of the fork and the short handle are very similar to the form of the bread fork, and it is possible that forks with a less specific decoration could have been used to serve bread.

Place of Origin

England, Britain (made)

Date

1875-1900 (made)

Artist/maker

unknown (production)

Materials and Techniques

Electroplated nickel silver, with celluloid handle

Dimensions

Length: 17 cm, Width: 4.2 cm maximum, Depth: 1.5 cm

Object history note

Made in England

Historical context note

The complicated dining etiquette of the period encouraged the development of specific utensils for eating and serving particular foods. Sardine forks were a Victorian refinement for serving the expensive and popular tinned fish.

Dining Etiquette

Dining etiquette formed an important part of the Victorian code of polite society. The Manners and Tone of Good Society, first published in 1879, outlined the correct conduct of the dinner party but focused on the complicated and changing use of cutlery. With a few exceptions (such as for eating bread and some fruit) touching food with the fingers was frowned upon. Diners were presented with an alarming and growing range of specialist utensils for eating particular foods. It was important to be able to recognise items such as lobster picks, sardine forks and grape scissors, and to know how to use them correctly.

Design & Designing

The engraved fish incorporated into the design suggests the fork's function. However, the broad, five-pronged shape of the fork and the short handle are very similar to the form of the bread fork, and it is possible that forks with a less specific decoration could have been used to serve bread.

Descriptive line

Sardine fork, Electroplated nickel silver, with plastic (celluloid) handle, unmarked; 1870-1890.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Tinned food was a novelty for the Victorians and sardines were served for breakfast, at high tea or as hors d'oeuvres at dinner. Specialist serving vessels or sardine boxes in metal and ceramics as well as sardine tongs and forks were developed to serve and eat the expensive tinned fish with greater elegance. [27/03/2003]

Materials

Plastic; Nickel silver

Categories

British Galleries; Metalwork; Tableware & cutlery; Eating

Collection code

MET

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Qr_O48573
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