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Dessert fork

Dessert fork

  • Place of origin:

    Birmingham (made)

  • Date:

    1818-1820 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Willmore, Joseph (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver, die stamped attached to an ivory handle

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Miss D. B. Simpson

  • Museum number:

    M.204:9-1977

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Object Type

Smaller forks evolved in the early 18th century as cutlery became specialised. A desire to eat more elegantly prompted the need for table equipment that could be used only at particular times in the meal or with certain foods. The fruit or dessert fork was designed for use with the last course or dessert, which might consist of fresh or candied fruit. A Victorian etiquette book of 1880 advised, 'In eating pears or apples, they would be peeled and cut into halves and quarters with a fruit knife and fork.'

Design & Designing

Dessert cutlery had always been more highly decorated than that for the earlier courses, to reflect the status and expense of the dessert. Handles, in particular, were often more ornate. This fork has a handle made of ivory but mother-of-pearl could also be used to add to the effect of luxury. In the Victorian period fruit forks were commonly sold with fruit knives in boxed sets of a dozen. The manufacturer Elkington & Co. could charge up to £22 a set in 1885 for richly engraved blades with carved handles and accompanying matching knives.

Physical description

Fork, silver prongs and shaft with ivory handle

Place of Origin

Birmingham (made)

Date

1818-1820 (made)

Artist/maker

Willmore, Joseph (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Silver, die stamped attached to an ivory handle

Marks and inscriptions

Duty, sterling and maker's mark of Joseph Willmore.
On front of silver shaft of fork.; punching

Dimensions

Length: 62 mm, Width: 16 mm, Height: 8 mm

Historical context note

Object Type

Smaller forks evolved in the early 18th century as cutlery became specialised. A desire to eat more elegantly prompted the need for table equipment that could be used only at particular times in the meal or with certain foods. The fruit or dessert fork was designed for use with the last course or dessert, which might consist of fresh or candied fruit. A Victorian etiquette book of 1880 advised, 'In eating pears or apples, they would be peeled and cut into halves and quarters with a fruit knife and fork.'

Design & Designing

Dessert cutlery had always been more highly decorated than that for the earlier courses, to reflect the status and expense of the dessert. Handles, in particular, were often more ornate. This fork has a handle made of ivory but mother-of-pearl could also be used to add to the effect of luxury. In the Victorian period fruit forks were commonly sold with fruit knives in boxed sets of a dozen. The manufacturer Elkington & Co. could charge up to £22 a set in 1885 for richly engraved blades with carved handles and accompanying matching knives.

Descriptive line

Dessert fork, silver with ivory handles, one of a set of eight knives and nine forks, Birmingham, Joseph Willmore, 1818-20

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

Arthur G. Grimwade, 'London Goldsmiths 1697-1837, Faber and Faber, London, 1990 ed., p. 706

Labels and date

Dessert Fork, silver with ivory handle, one of a set of eight knives and nine forks, Birmingham, Joseph Willmore, 1818-20.
Bequeathed by Miss D.B. Simpson
M 204:9-1977 []

Production Note

No date letter impressed on the forks but association with knives in set, which are marked for hall marking years 1818-19 and 1819-20, appears to substanciate the dating of the forks.

Materials

Silver; Ivory

Techniques

Die stamping

Categories

Metalwork; Tableware & cutlery

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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