Charm of silver cutlery
Cutlery is Western tableware such as knives, forks, and spoons used for meals.
The history of cutlery is relatively new, and until the Middle Ages, people in Europe used to eat food that had been cut with a knife.
Since around the 17th century, cutlery has been used among wealthy people, and beautifully decorated cutlery has been produced.
In particular, silver cutlery beautifully decorated by silversmiths is a symbol of wealth and is a representative item of antique silver.
Usage and type
Cutlery comes in various sizes and types depending on its use.
It varies depending on the era, country, and manufacturer, but we will introduce the representative ones.
1. table knife/fork
Knife and fork used for main dishes, the largest size for eating.
Many table knives have a rounded tip, but this is because Richelieu, who was the prime minister of Louis XIII of France, cut the tip of the knife to discourage guests from using the tip of the knife as a toothpick. It is said that the reason for this is that it was cut in a round shape.
The blades of table knives, which are used to cut meat and other hard foods, tend to wear out over time, so there are very few originals left from that era.
There are also fish knives and fish forks with blades that are shaped to make it easier to eat fish dishes, and some are engraved with fish motifs for easy identification.
2. dessert knife/fork
Cutlery that is one size smaller than table knives and forks.
This is mainly used at tea time.
In Japan and Asia, this size is sometimes used instead of table knives and forks.
There are various kinds of spoons according to their uses, but typical ones are soup spoons used for soup, dessert spoons used for dessert, and teaspoons used for tea.
In Europe, there is a custom of giving a silver spoon to celebrate the birth of a baby.
4. serving cutlery
A large cutlery for serving from the platter to each plate.
There are also cake servers and tongs for serving cakes.
Materials such as pure silver sterling silver, silver plate, and stainless steel are used for the blades of knives and forks.
Most spoons are integrated with the handle, but many knives and forks have a structure that allows the blade to be replaced, and are made of a different material from the handle (handles made of pure silver, blades made of silver plate, etc.). ) is also available.
1. Pure silver (sterling silver)
British antique silver cutlery uses 92.5% pure silver called sterling silver.
Continental European products such as France and Germany have 95% and 80%.
Silver is a soft metal, so it is not suitable for cutting or stabbing hard objects. Therefore, it is not used for knife blades that cut hard foods such as meat.
2. silver plate
It's called "silver plating".
Silver plating is applied to the surface of an alloy of nickel, copper, and zinc called nickel silver.
Since it is harder than pure silver, it can cut hard objects, but the plating may become thin or peel off after many years of use.
It is an alloy that combines iron and chromium, and has strong corrosion resistance and rust resistance.
It has been in practical use since around 1910, and there are stainless steel blades, including those that have been replaced in the middle of antique cutlery.
Compared to pure silver and silver plates, it is more durable and easier to clean, but it is hard enough to be decorated with engravings.
Handle material and design
The handle is made of sterling silver, silver plate, or other materials such as pearl oyster shell.
If the blade part is sterling silver or silver plate, they are also a kind of silver cutlery.
Many of the handles have beautiful decorations such as engravings.
1. sterling silver, silver plate
Many of the handles have designs such as engravings called patterns.
In the case of antiques, it is difficult to have all kinds of original sets, but if you have a pattern, you can get a sense of unity.
Typical patterns include Queens patterns and Kings patterns, and there are also original patterns designed by manufacturers.
From around the latter half of the 19th century, silver plated items became more common, and compared to sterling silver items, you can get them at a much more affordable price.
This is a handle that uses mother-of-pearl from white pearl oysters, a type of pearl oyster.
It has a beautiful luster that changes color depending on the angle, but since it is a natural material, it can be damaged if it comes into contact with acids such as vinegar or lemon, or it can crack or chip due to impact, so care must be taken when cleaning it.
In addition to silver and white pearl oysters, there are also products that use resin such as bakelite, deer antler, and ceramics.
Silver cutlery is the royal road item among antique silver, which has various types such as usage, size, and design.
Small spoons such as teaspoons are available at a relatively reasonable price even if they are made of sterling silver.
Silver is a metal with high thermal conductivity, so it feels good on the palate, and you don't feel uncomfortable coldness when eating ice cream.
Recommended as an introduction to silver cutlery.
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