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Fish slice

Fish slice

  • Place of origin:

    Chicago (made)

  • Date:

    2003 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Slemmons, Kiff, born 1944 (designer and maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Sterling silver, steel rulers, pierced, rivetted and engraved

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the American Friends of the V&A through the generosity of Professor B. Seymour Rabinovitch

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The concept of this piece is original and contemporary. The handle is an engraved steel ruler riveted to its silver frame. The "measurement" motif is extended in the edges of the server each with tiny sub-divisions. The piece is hinged in four places and folds into a compact knife shape, echoing a fisherman's pocket knife. The utilitarian design is enhanced by the square cut blade and finial with severe net diamond pierced pattern that is riveted to its frame. This subtly humourous design references three aspects fishing; the net, the knife, and the ruler for measuring purposes. The individual touches to this piece are bold, roman numerals IX, II, V, extend across the shaft claiming the silver standard. The first segment of the blade bears a short swivelling tube with a flag engraved "SEYMOUR" that turns to reveal "FROM KIFF". The strong individuality of this piece creates a striking presence.

Physical description

The knife-shaped sheet blade is a pierced net diamond pattern. It is framed on the underside by a narrow band that is rivetted to the sheet; like every edge of this slice, it carries "length" sub division marks. The blade had a square cut rear edge whose frame is accented by ten small applied circles. It is hinged to the first part of segmented rectangular handle shaft whose top side is a zig-zag cut out frame for a steel ruler. A U-hinge connects to a similarly constructed piece that is hinged to a semi-circular finial shape of allied construction. The shaft may be folded; the finial is thus brought into juxtaposition with the blade to form a compact knife shape, which unifies the net design. Raised circles on the finial display the numbers 2000, 2003 - the commissioning and delivery dates. Surfaces are polished.

Place of Origin

Chicago (made)


2003 (made)


Slemmons, Kiff, born 1944 (designer and maker)

Materials and Techniques

Sterling silver, steel rulers, pierced, rivetted and engraved

Marks and inscriptions

The underside of handle carries the Roman numerals "IX, II, V", formed from square strips and certify the sterling standard.

Attached to one edge of the leading segment is a very short tube on a swivel which accepts the prong of a small rectangular, open box device that is held by a length (6cm) of chain to a swivel on the other edge. It bears a narrow flag that carries the decoratwed engraving.


Length: 35.5 cm, Weight: 186 g

Object history note

Historical significance: A jeweller by trade, Slemmons was apprehensive at the commission of a fish slice. He conveys a humour in his work, in this case derived from the casual reference to the killing of the fish. The absurdity of this ingenious design "first measuring the fish and later, after cooking, pulling it out again and unfolding it for service" appealed to Slemmons. The signing of this piece is unusual for his work, a homage to the commissioner.

Historical context note

Part of a collection of fish slices commissioned by Professor Rabinovitch from contemporary North American and British makers.

Descriptive line

Sterling silver and steel, USA, Chicago, 2003, designed and made by Kiff Slemmons.

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

Benton Seymour Rabinovitch, Contemporary Silver, Part II: Recent Commissions, Seattle, 2005, pp. 62-3. ill.

Labels and date

This collection of silver slices, all commissioned over a period of twenty years by Professor Benton Seymour Rabinovitch FRS, is proof of the skill and diversity of contemporary silversmiths. Each artist craftsman has responded to the familiar functional form of the slice in an individual way, producing an astonishingly diverse range of interpretations. Each piece becomes an enchanting, decorative work of art. Professor Rabinovitch established a close rapport with each artist, always encouraging a freedom of creative expression. The response of these silversmiths has been not only to be strikingly imaginative but also to honour him by giving him their best work.

This collection is testimony to the significant contribution that one individual can make to supporting the craft of silversmithing. After commissioning work from some of the most illustrious names in British and North American silversmithing, Professor Rabinovitch has very generously donated his entire collection to the Victoria and Albert Museum, through the American Friends of the V&A. [2005]


Silver; Steel


Piercing; Rivetting; Engraving; Polishing

Subjects depicted



Metalwork; Eating


Metalwork Collection

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