Butter Knife

1849-1850 (made)
Butter Knife thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 125b
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
The first examples of the butter knife date from the late 18th century. In the Victorian period the butter knife was used to serve butter, rather than to spread it.

Design & Designing
Most butter knives, like this one,are designed with a wide, scimitar-shaped blade with a blunt edge. Many had a stained green ivory or mother-of-pearl handle, but this example is made in the Princess Number 2 pattern to match a cutlery service. In 1899 one manufacturer, James Deakin & Sons Ltd of Sheffield, offered a 108-piece canteen that included one butter knife. At a later date the shape of the blade was copied and used for fish knives and forks. Butter knives became smaller in the late 19th century, as individual butter dishes encouraged the use of a butter knife as part of the place setting.

Manufacturer
This butter knife was made by Chawner & Co., who were the most important firm of silver spoon and fork manufacturers in Victorian London, supplying the top end of the retailing trade as well as smaller firms throughout the country. Under the name of the proprietor, George Adams, the business exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851 and the International Exhibition of 1862.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Brief Description
Butter Knife
Dimensions
  • Height: 1.4cm
  • Width: 3cm
  • Length: 19.5cm
Marks and Inscriptions
Hallmarked for 1849-1850
Gallery Label
British Galleries: The wide blade and curved blunt edge traditional for butter knives developed in the 18th century. In the Goldsmiths and Silversmiths Co. catalogue of 1896, silver butter knives were available in a variety of different flatware patterns to match other table cutlery. They cost from 10s to 14s (50p to 70p).(27/03/2003)
Object history
Manufactured in London by George W. Adams for Chawner & Co.
Summary
Object Type
The first examples of the butter knife date from the late 18th century. In the Victorian period the butter knife was used to serve butter, rather than to spread it.

Design & Designing
Most butter knives, like this one,are designed with a wide, scimitar-shaped blade with a blunt edge. Many had a stained green ivory or mother-of-pearl handle, but this example is made in the Princess Number 2 pattern to match a cutlery service. In 1899 one manufacturer, James Deakin & Sons Ltd of Sheffield, offered a 108-piece canteen that included one butter knife. At a later date the shape of the blade was copied and used for fish knives and forks. Butter knives became smaller in the late 19th century, as individual butter dishes encouraged the use of a butter knife as part of the place setting.

Manufacturer
This butter knife was made by Chawner & Co., who were the most important firm of silver spoon and fork manufacturers in Victorian London, supplying the top end of the retailing trade as well as smaller firms throughout the country. Under the name of the proprietor, George Adams, the business exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851 and the International Exhibition of 1862.
Collection
Accession Number
M.8A-1967

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdMarch 27, 2003
Record URL