A rest between courses

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20th century granite and silver plated knife rest with Walker and Hall knife and fork.

My apologies for the gap in my cutlery posts.  This is because of our ongoing attempt to move house. I never expected this to take so long but we now have a property in our sights and are waiting for the final paperwork before moving our belongings from here in Sheffield over to South Wales.

I have lots of interesting ideas for future blogs so please visit this site again.

 

Once a tree

Obliged to cut back a much loved birch tree in our garden last year, I contacted Paul Adamson from Woodsman Crafts (Derbyshire UK) and this is what happened.

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1. The original branch of soft wood

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2. Split with the basic design marked out

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3. The finished pieces

These are totally usable although they are kept in their pristine condition for the present.

(All photographs are by Paul and published with his permission)

A set of Edwardian training cutlery

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Etiquette cutlery, patented 1910, for training children to hold their table cutlery properly. William Hutton, Sheffield.

Dating to the Edwardian era, these pieces of training cutlery (sometimes called an etiquette set) were manufactured by the Sheffield company of William Hutton in both silver and silver plate. Two discs were attached to each piece in the correct position for the child’s finger and thumb.

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Finger discs designed for William Hutton, Sheffield.

As these pieces are of adult size it is presumed they were not designed for the younger child who, in wealthier households, ate their meals in the nursery out of public view.

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Patent 820.10. William Hutton, Sheffield.

This unusual design was registered so each piece is stamped with the patent number 820.10.

On a personal note, the only other set I have found is part of the Bill Brown collection held at the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield UK, which lacks a spoon and is manufactured in solid silver.

The number of designs of child’s cutlery that have appeared over the ages means this is a very interesting field to base a private collection on and I plan to add further blogs on this particular subject soon.

Flagship cutlery

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American Airlines “Flagship” cutlery, depicting the front of a DC-3 aeroplane. 1930s. Silver-plated, made by International Silver Co. Designer unknown.

American Airlines, originally American Air Lines, was formed in 1934 and by 1936 had added the brand new Douglas DC-3, which it called “Flagships”, to its fleet. At a time when flying was a luxury enjoyed by the privileged few, airlines went to great lengths to promote their service. In the case of the AA Flagship service, this included specially designed cutlery for their in-flight meals.

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Close up of American Airlines DC-3 “Flagship” cutlery handle

The handle of each piece represented the nose and an engine of a stylised, but unmistakable, DC-3. In the earliest version this was moulded in relief, but in later versions it was more simply impressed. The word “Flagship”, in a speedy-looking Art Deco typeface, was positioned just behind the cockpit.

DC-3 aircraft on display in the Cold War Hangar, Cosford RAF Museum

Nose of DC-3 aircraft on display in the Cold War Hangar, Cosford RAF Museum

The designer of the cutlery is unknown. The three pieces (knife, fork and spoon) were smaller than normal tableware, presumably to keep weight down, but were silver-plated. The knife had a stainless steel blade. Cutlery in this pattern is of interest to collectors of transport memorabilia, as well as to cutlery collectors.

A spade and fork on the Victorian dining table

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Novelty Victorian servers

The Victorians loved specialist utensils for eating particular foods and this led to a variety of servers or implements, such as these illustrated, which are based on the shape of gardening tools.  These could be used for a variety of purposes, depending on their shape and size, such as butter spades, salad or sardine servers etc. and were made in silver or electroplated silver, as here. Some examples had bone or ivory handles sometimes stained green. It makes an interesting area for collecting although they are hard to find.

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Electroplated forks with bone (upper) and ivory (lower) handles.

These spades and forks are all around 15cm long.  The equivalent in solid silver can cost several hundred pounds especially when they are a matching pair.  Electroplated ones are far more affordable and a little more common.

A note on eating peas.

Elkington gravy forks designed in 1867

Elkington gravy forks designed in 1867

“I eat my peas with honey, I’ve done it all my life. It makes the peas taste funny but they do stick to my knife.” Anonymous

The Gravy Fork, sometimes referred to as the pea fork, was designed by Elkington in 1867. The idea was to provide an easier method for eating gravy, sauces and perhaps peas. By using the fork also as a scoop or spoon the guest could enjoy everything on the plate without upsetting the sensitive rules of British etiquette.

The fork and British etiquette

Formally, a fork should not be used as a scoop. If you have a knife in one hand, the fork must be held in the other hand with the prongs pointing down.  It is wrong to have a fork in the other with the prongs (tines) pointed up.  Peas should be crushed onto the fork with the prongs pointing down. Using something to which they will stick, such as potato or a soft vegetable that squashes easily onto the fork is acceptable.

With a casual meal with family or close friends, it is sometimes acceptable to put down your knife first and then switch your fork to the right hand, with the prongs pointing up so you can shovel the peas against something else on the plate, thus ensuring they end up on your fork.  However, never use your fingers to push food onto your fork and never ever use honey and put your knife in your mouth.