Can you identify the components of this silverware set, cast in 1849 in an Abyssinian pattern? (Click to enlarge.)
We like to think of ourselves as the most sophisticated diners who ever lived, but, really, we’ve been outclassed previously in several areas of gustatory endeavor. One of them is silverware. While we’re content to shovel the food down with a knife, fork, and spoon, or sometimes with nothing more than a plastic fork, previous generations took their flatware seriously.
Take the wealthy mid-19th-century American diner. Above is the sort of place setting you might have been faced with. Made of silver, it was manufactured by Rogers Brothers in Meriden, Connecticut, in 1849. Can you name each item — guessing what it’s for — going from left to right?
Answers on the next page.
Left to right: oyster fork, fish fork, dessert fork, dinner fork, dinner fork with hollow handle, dinner knife, dinner knife with hollow handle, dessert knife, fish knife, butter knife, tablespoon, dessert spoon, teaspoon, coffee spoon, and nutpick.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 7, 2010