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BREAD FORK Reg no 237163 = 1885-1886.

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Silver2001 of 2507Masonic Lodge 382 Award  1931Antique Silver Pie Plate?
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Posted 6 years ago

(674 items)

How long has this been in the shed? Too long, but then when did I last entertain in 'that way'? The formal way!

The marks on the silver plated finial are Reg no 237163. It seems that two years before this piece was registered the English moved to a new, simpler way of design registration. That enabled the numbers to be fairly easily placed on the finial, on each side actually. This suggests a method of construction. The date is 1885-1886.

It is made from EPNS with an ivory handle. The handle has been carved in a naturalistic style with small regularly placed bumps.

"Bread forks have three tines and a short to medium length handle. Two main styles of bread fork were made in the 1800s and early 1900s. The first has flaring tines that resemble a trident. The second type has straight tines and resemble a small toasting fork. Like this object, the tines are often connected by a central ball. Bread forks were available in silver or EPNS, which was considerably cheaper. Their handles were made from ivory, mother of pearl, silver or EPNS. Bread forks with metal handles could be made to match the pattern of a larger table service. How much did they cost? A catalogue from 1905 illustrates a number of different styles of bread forks in silver and EPNS. Silver bread forks vary in price from 26 shillings to 41 shillings each. The most expensive fork has a carved ivory handle. Bread forks in EPNS could be bought for as little as 5 shillings 6d. The most expensive example also had a carved ivory handle and sold for 22 shillings. This was almost half the cost of the silver bread fork.

How were they used?

Bread rolls were served using these objects from the bread basket.
Like today, bread formed an important part of most people's diets at the time this object was made. This fork would have most likely been used at formal luncheons, teas and dinners. These were occasions where strict rules of etiquette were observed. It was considered impolite to eat most types of food with the fingers. Bread was one of a few exceptions to this rule. However, it was still necessary to use a special fork to serve bread. ??An opinion from 1860.... the advice manual 'The Habits of Good Society' outlines some of the rules of etiquette when eating bread at dinner in 1860:??"Bread is of course eaten with the fingers, and it would be absurd to carve it with your knife and fork. It must, on the contrary, always be broken when not buttered, and you should never put a slice of dry bread to your mouth to bite a piece off".??

This one is 24.5 cm or 9.65" long .


  1. Micmac, 6 years ago
    I love this:)
  2. vetraio50 vetraio50, 6 years ago
    Many thanks Micmac!
  3. vetraio50 vetraio50, 6 years ago
    Many thanks Sean for loving the Trident!
  4. vetraio50 vetraio50, 6 years ago
    Many thanks inky and eye4!
    So there is still a market for them?
    Out of the shed and onto the grate!
    Making mallows mellower!
    Eternally grateful ;)
  5. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 6 years ago
    Most beautiful! When I opened this show and tell, I though that this might be by George Unite. He used carved ivory staffs just like this one in some fish services and master butter knives. Have you seen many other silversmiths use this style of carved ivory staff? Any idea who the silversmith was? Most beautiful item!!!, and, as always, a capitvating account. miKKo
  6. musikchoo musikchoo, 6 years ago
    A Great item and unique also. I love the rounded pitchfork effect!! Just an all around Great piece!
  7. vetraio50 vetraio50, 6 years ago
    Many thanks mrmajestic1, PhilDavidAlexanderMorris & musikchoo too!
  8. vetraio50 vetraio50, 6 years ago
    Hi miKKo!
    The Sheffield museum site has one similar but without the crown finial:
    They don't have a maker mentioned.
    By rights the registration number on mine should enable me to find out the firm that registered the design. As yet I have not found out the name. Another work in progress.
    Mind you I just had another look at the numbers and there are some conflicting sets of numbers. On one I get 1885 and on the later 1894.
  9. vetraio50 vetraio50, 6 years ago
    Many thanks Slave2G!
  10. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 6 years ago
    Hi, Vetraio! Didn't mean to keep you hanging. Greatly appreciated the accounts you've provided -- thank you! I did some searching for carved staffs like this. Found a couple from George Unite but also some from contemporaries of his. It is interesting to note that the projections on some resemble stubs, like the stubs of tree branches broken off of a trunk; and on others, are precisely carved so as to look like 3-D dots. Found two forks that were obviously missing the knob. Found some knobs of a style that didn't seem to coordinate with the ferrule and tined end. I wonder if someone switched-out these odd-match knobs when silver was so high in the 80's - or recently. I mention this because I have a similar old serving fork, with a staff that looks like carved rhino horn, a very common silverplate tined end, and a chrome or base metal knob. The horn is split down the middle, the tined end silverplate, and the knob is not silver - otherwise I would not now be its owner....I found none as grand as yours, and I look forward to your identifying the silversmith who issued this....Thank again. miKKo
  11. AmberRose AmberRose, 6 years ago
    Tine (get it?) for a dinner party!
  12. vetraio50 vetraio50, 6 years ago
    Thanks miKKo and Amber, sometine soon!
    Yesterday afternoon I saw the final episode of theis year's English Antiques Roadshow (the original show, as I'm sure any English CW contributor will point out) and on it was a club, dating back to 1790. It was carved with a figure of a night watchman on one end and it had the similar pattern of bumps. I have two Irish walking sticks, shillelaghs, that have similar bumps. They are made from Prunus Spinosa or blackthorn I believe. I reckon this handle is imitating the bumps left after tidying up a branch of blackthorn, ash, oak or hazel. The whole effect is to imitate a cudgel and with the trident end, and silver finial it perhaps becomes a parody of Victorian etiquette.
    Have you come across "Bataireacht" and "Sail-Éille"?
  13. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 6 years ago
    Hi, all! AmberRose, I'm sorry, I missed your clever! pun. Yes, it's dinner 'tine', so please 'pitch' in.....

    Yes, Vetraio, I find much more likely than not your judgment that the carved design is probably meant to represent a thorny or ‘branchey’stick that has been relieved (none too tidily) of its branches in order to serve as a ‘functional’ stick. Oooh, I had never heard of "Bataireacht". My only exposure to stick fighting is in kendo. I shall have to ask my elder brother about this ‘Irish stick martial art’. I have seen shillelaghs (And it’s a great word for Scrabble!), and find them attractive. I marvel that an Englishman of this age would carry an Irish walking stick, but you know much more about this than I! Most interesting association of the trident qua weapon with the bumpy stick qua cudgel! The only thing I can’t quite see is the crown knob serving as a parody of Victorian etiquette, though of course, you may assign it any value you wish. Thank you for a delightful account!
  14. vetraio50 vetraio50, 6 years ago
    Hi miKKo! Thanks again from Sydney, Australia! Just wanted to make sure that your comment about Englishmen had nothing to do with me.
    Today I came across an "alye irlpakerte" at Vinnies. It is a number seven shaped boomerang/club. These are longer and heavier than the returning type. Boomerangs also had other uses, sharpened edges acted as a sickle for clearing grass, served as a poker or scoop at the fireside, for raking embers or lifting cooked food. The indigenous Australians also used them to fight with or finish off kangaroos if they were still alive after spearing them. Made from Mulga wood. More words for a friendly game of Scrabble?
  15. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 6 years ago
    Hi, Vetraio! Wow - I shall surely have an advantage at my next game of Scrabble, or hangman's noose! Thank you for more fascinating information!

    No, sir. I had thought that the good gentleman from Sydney was a native Australian, and I do remember that he has identified himself as a 'republican', in contradistinction to a 'monarchist'. REF my 'Englishman' remarks: I meant to pay tribute to your greater knowledge of English culture and customs. I had assumed that this fork was made in England because of the registry number. Upon reading your take on the likely model for the knobby fork staff, the shillelagh, I made the immediate inference that it was unlikely that most Victorian Englishman would celebrating the 'refinements' of the Irish shillelagh in an elegant, ivory bread fork. Rather, I thought it likely that the average Victorian Englishman would be unlikely to find refinement in a shillelagh. And I didn't even then know about the 'Irish martial art of stick fighting', and that the shillelagh could serve as a weapon; I had previously encountered the shillelagh only qua walking stick. No, REF my Englishman remarks: I meant to pay tribute to your greater knowledge of English culture, and I credited as very likely your judgment that the fork staff is meant to resemble the type of wood-rendering/'carving' characteristic of a shillelagh....Thanks again for the great comments - great learning!, and lots of fun! miKKo
  16. vetraio50 vetraio50, 6 years ago
    Ditto mate! I hope you are travelling well!
  17. vetraio50 vetraio50, 6 years ago
    Many thanks Marc!
  18. vetraio50 vetraio50, 6 years ago
    Many thanks Budek!
  19. vetraio50 vetraio50, 6 years ago
    Many thanks toracat!
  20. vetraio50 vetraio50, 6 years ago
    Many thanks ho2cultcha!
  21. vetraio50 vetraio50, 5 years ago
    Many thanks for the loves TOM31675!
  22. vetraio50 vetraio50, 4 years ago
    Many thanks AGHCOLLECT & AZTOM!!!!!
  23. vetraio50 vetraio50, 4 years ago
    Many thanks JEWELS!!!!!!

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