Posted 6 years ago
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 .