ashmolean

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Travelling knife and fork

Silver, steel and brass

Origin: England

Date: c. 1690

12.6 cm length of knife

WA.OA292

T. Schroder (2009), no. 565

This set was probably supplied with a fitted case. The caps of the hollow handles are detachable, which is an unusual feature. It was perhaps for storing toothpicks or needles inside.

Information derived from T. Schroder, British and Continental Gold and Silver in the Ashmolean (2009)

Fork: The fork first arrived in Italy from Byzantium in the eleventh century and was in regular use there by the fifteenth century. It was a while before the fork was accepted elsewhere in Europe. In 1518, Martin Luther amusingly quipped, ‘God preserve me from the little forks’! It finally came into common use in the seventeenth century, where it developed from the two-pronged type to one of three or four prongs, demonstrating its transition from carving or serving fork to one used for eating.