Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 118a

Knife

ca. 1755 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
Until the 17th century, it was the custom for guests to bring their personal cutlery, but by the 18th century knives and forks were provided in matching sets by the host. The basic form of knives and forks had also become standardised by this date.

Design & Designing
By the mid-18th century, table knives and forks were usually made in sets and decorated to match the rest of the cutlery. By the end of the 18th century the standard pistol-shaped haft (handle) gave way to straighter, flat-ended hafts. Forks generally had smaller hafts. The knife blade is usually of sabre, or scimitar, shape. The steel blades and shanks have a 'tang' or rod at the base that fits into the hollow handle, which is then packed with resin. The junction between haft and blade is fitted with a small metal collar, or 'ferrule'.

Materials & Making
Porcelain hafts were introduced into Europe from China, and the subsequent demand stimulated the production of porcelain hafts at many European factories. The Saint-Cloud factory near Paris specialised in Baroque moulded ornament and underglaze blue, while the Bow factory in London, which produced similar designs, dominated the English market.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Porcelain, decorated with underglaze blue, with steel blade
Brief Description
Knife with porcelain handles, probably made at the Bow factory, London
Physical Description
Pistol-shaped handle
Dimensions
  • Length: 21cm
Gallery Label
British Galleries: During the 18th century it became customary for the host to provide cutlery rather than for guests to bring their own. As a result designs became simpler and more uniform. During the period of transition, some sets, such as these examples, combined the richness of personalised cutlery with the large numbers required for a full dinner service.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Given by J. H. Fitzhenry
Object history
Knife probably made at the Bow factory, London; fork probably made in St Cloud, France
Summary
Object Type
Until the 17th century, it was the custom for guests to bring their personal cutlery, but by the 18th century knives and forks were provided in matching sets by the host. The basic form of knives and forks had also become standardised by this date.

Design & Designing
By the mid-18th century, table knives and forks were usually made in sets and decorated to match the rest of the cutlery. By the end of the 18th century the standard pistol-shaped haft (handle) gave way to straighter, flat-ended hafts. Forks generally had smaller hafts. The knife blade is usually of sabre, or scimitar, shape. The steel blades and shanks have a 'tang' or rod at the base that fits into the hollow handle, which is then packed with resin. The junction between haft and blade is fitted with a small metal collar, or 'ferrule'.

Materials & Making
Porcelain hafts were introduced into Europe from China, and the subsequent demand stimulated the production of porcelain hafts at many European factories. The Saint-Cloud factory near Paris specialised in Baroque moulded ornament and underglaze blue, while the Bow factory in London, which produced similar designs, dominated the English market.
Collection
Accession Number
1611-1871

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record createdMarch 27, 2003
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