Dining Regalia And Sterling Silver
By Grant Copland

Beginning about 1840 and lasting for about 100 years in the US and Europe, sterling silver flatware became the “super in thing”. It was expected that one would have this when setting one's table. In fact, there was during this period a significant increase in silver manufacturing companies. The great height of the silver and sterling silver craze was reached in 1870 and lasted through 1920.
 
Lines of flatware during this period sometimes had a scope of over 100 different pieces. As this happened, the dinners served went from three courses up to sometimes as many as ten! This was of course in order to show off the most pieces of sterling silver tableware possible. The course process started with soup. Then the courses went salad, to fruit, to cheese, to antipasto, to fish, to the main course, to a dessert, with every one of these being their own courses.
 
The individual eating utensils needless to say included forks—and these comprised a place fork, a dinner fork, a salad fork, a pasty fork, a shrimp or cocktail fork, and a terrepin fork. The spoons that were “supposed to be” used were a teaspoon, a coffee spoon, a bouillon spoon, a gumbo spoon, a demitasse spoon, and an iced tea spoon. And then of course there were knives The set of knives included a place knife, a dinner knife, a butter knife, a cheese knife, and a fruit knife. Especially in Victorian England was it deemed proper etiquette never to touch any food with one's hands.
 
The serving pieces were typically pierced, embellished, or otherwise decorated with ivory. A carving fork and knife, a salad fork and knife, cold meat fork, a punch ladle, a soup ladle, a gravy ladle, a casserole serving spoon, a berry spoon, a lasagna server, a macaroni server, an asparagus server, a tomato server, a cucumber server, a cheese scoop, an olive spoon, a fish knife and fork, a pastry server, petit four server, a bon-bon spoon, a cake knife, a sugar sifter, and a crumb remover.
 
Wow!
 
In fact, even businesses took up the craze, utilizing silver mechanical pencils, cigarette cases, boxes for holding business cards, and paper clips.
 
But with the advent of WWII, the cost of production rose—sterling silver were still mostly made by hand and with so many involved in the war, the cost of labor rose. Only those with great wealth could now afford to have all the servants necessary to host ten course dinners, and a new aesthetic of simplicity had begun to take hold with the general population.

Copyright 2007,Lemur Holdings Pty Ltd, All Rights Reserved. May not be reproduced, reprinted or published without our written permission.

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