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Twenty-three table forks

Silver

Origin: London

Date: 1718-1719

19 - 19.6 cm length; 64 - 77 g weight

Marks/Maker: London, Britannia standard, 1718-19, makers'marks of David Willaume I and Paul Hanet

Heraldry: Crest of Capel for William, 3rd Earl of Essex KG (1697-1743)

Provenance: William, 3rd Earl of Essex KG (d. 1743)

Bequeathed by W.F. Farrer, 1946; WA1946.165

T. Schroder (2009), no. 394

These forks were probably commissioned on the occasion of the earl's first marriage in 1718 to Jane, daughter of the 4th Earl of Clarendon, who later died of a fever in 1723. He re-married in 1726 Elizabeth, daughter of the Duke of Bedford. The earl held a number of appointments in the royal household and from 1732 to 1737 was ambassador to Turin. However, contemporary accounts describe him as a 'worthless wretch, particularly so to his first wife'. The Hanoverian pattern was the standard pattern of English flatware from about 1710 until the 1770s. Up until the middle of the eighteenth century spoons and forks were placed with bowl and prong face down on the table, accounting for the crest and earl's coronet being engraved on the back.

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.
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.
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.

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