Fish and Visitors: The Fish Slice

CLUNY by GORHAM
Cluny by Gorham

There have been specialized types of flatware-the sardine fork, the cucumber server, the hot cake lifter, etc.-made mostly during the Regency, Victorian, and Edwardian ages, but the fish slice (along with its cousins the tart and pudding servers) is among the earliest of such individualized utensils. The eighteenth century laws that helped to enrich already rich landowners and the industrial Revolution, which created a rising middle class of merchants and professional people, created a new appetite for silver tableware that was not satisfied with just knives, spoons, ladles and forks.  Specialized servers “in the French manner” were desired, and these broad-blade servers led to a revolution of their own at the table.  Its form was largely dictated by its special function, yet this noble piece still manages to speak to us of elegance and grace.  Saw-piercing, bright cutting, and elaborate cartouches are natural on these blades.

DOLPHIN by GEORG JENSEN
Dolphin by Georg Jensen

The fish slice is a broad blade or trowel shaped server, most often used for dividing and serving fish at the table, but the earliest examples were used to serve fried fish directly from the pan. These early servers, circa 1740, use the name “slice,” but their blades are rounded and symmetrical.  Elaborately saw-pierced, their main purpose was to drain unwanted cooking juices. As the whitebait fish was commonly fried in the eighteenth century home, the early examples where called whitebait servers. More elongated slices, fish shaped but still symmetrical, appeared after about 1745, and these eventually evolved into the a symmetrical fin shape we see most often. The symmetrical shape still persisted, but such later examples were usually longer and slightly pointed. Further, the most familiar scimitar blade was rarely made before 1800. The earliest known example was possibly made in London, ca. 1780, by Joseph Steward II (pudding and cake servers appeared at the same time).

The scimitar blade made its first known appearance on the Continent around 1780, but on either side of the Channel there is a bit of a gap, from the early 1780s until the early 1790s, during which almost no such examples were produced.  The study of existing examples would suggest that the scimitar shape made its return around 1790 and saw steady gains in popularity until, by circa 1800, it had become the preferred shape for the fish slice.  The blade recalls the shape of a fish’s fin, but a suggestion has been made that, especially in its more elongated form, it resembles the outline of a headless fish.  This would be very much in keeping with the manner in which the fish appeared at the table.

The baroque and rococo style saw-piercing of the earliest fish slices usually covered the blade from side to side, sometimes leaving a border of less than one quarter inch, with more metal removed than retained.  A close examination of the scroll work will show, however, the blade is not at all weakened and the holes are quite strategically placed.  The piercing often featured a cartouche or reserve to be engraved with an armorial device or a monogram.  The piercing was often enhanced by bright-cutting, with one or more fish forming a central motif; fishnet pattern backgrounds were not uncommon.  The more elongated neoclassical slices and fin-shaped examples often featured fish backbone-style piercing, while others were pierced with stars or comma shapes, using a punch. During the latter part of the eighteenth century the blade might also feature a border of classical-style interlocking scrolls.

The piercing of Georgian fish slices took two forms.  Saw-piercing by craftsman was the only method employed when they first appeared and was used throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but the steam-driven equipment introduced by Matthew Boulton and James Watt in the late 1760s resulted in mechanical die fly-cutting.  This expensive equipment, however, was afforded only by the more prosperous firms , such as the Batemans in London.  Pierced examples in Sheffield plate, although not common, can be found today.

As far as slicing and serving at the table is concerned, however, a question arises: How much of the piercing was functionally necessary and how much was simply decoration?  After the mid eighteenth century, was usually brought from the kitchen in a pot and transferred to a mazarine or onto a ceramic fish drainer.  Indeed, Rabinovitch says that ” the need for a pierced server…becomes questionable.”

Bright-cutting, rather than saw-pierced, more commonly characterizes the decoration of America fish slice, but many elaborate pierced examples of coin silver can be found.  Chasing of the blade became more common in the Art Nouveau period, and early twentieth century examples were usually left plain.

From the many examples of Georgian fish slices available for study it would seem that their handles evolved in somewhat loosely defined manner with the earliest known examples having flat silver handles in the “Hanoverian” style.  From about the mid-1740s until the mid-1760s loaded hollow silver handles were popular, as were handles of wood, ivory, or bone. The return of the flat handle employed styles that most often mirrored contemporary flatware patterns and which were sometimes made as part of a larger service.  Still, the other variations continued to be made.  Elaborately chased hollow handles in the form of a fishware often made, and ivory handles were sometimes stained green, or turned and carved.

Joseph P. Brady Silver Historian

DOLPHIN by GEORG JENSEN
Dolphin by Georg Jensen

Sterling Silver Pea Spoon

The sterling silver pea spoon is a piece of a American tradition that is often used throughout the year to serve a variety of dishes that require straining such a vegatables and peas.

The Sterling Silver Pea Server

Please Pass the Peas

The green pea is synonymous with the thawing of winter, transistioning into a natural beautifying of our days. Fresh produce at the local markets coupled with times of celebration bring out the host in us all. Whether at a garden party or ar a formal dinner toasting two, the presence of sterling silver always makes a postive impression.

Peas are becoming more popular in dishes for their diversity, whether they be pureed into dips for crostini or simply steamed. A little known fact about early 19th century cuisine: that after 30 mintues of boiling, the peas were skimmed out for serving. We have a vast amount of sterling silver pieces that make the serving of your sides easier, and the presentation the highlight of any meal.

Eating in green peas in the late 18th to early 19th centuries, sterling silver forks commonly used in England and the American colonies had only two or three tines and knife blades were wide and rounded in order to eat the peas from. As the saying goes:

“I always eat my peas with honey;

I’ve done it all my life.

They do taste kind of funny

but It keeps them on my knife.”

Anonymous

With the simplicity of such a small super food, it’s important that they are displayed in just the right dish; a beautiful sterling silver bowl with detail that brings the perfect amount of opulence to any table. In fact, peas of many varieties were planted with more frequency, and were allocated far more space in the kitchen garden at Monticello, than any other single vegetable. Peter J. Hatch, Director of Garden & Grounds at Monticello, writing in Dining at Monticello, states, “according to family accounts, every spring Jefferson competed with local gentlemen gardeners to bring the first pea to the table.”

We pride ourselves in the diversity of our sterling silver bowls, plates, tea sets and many serving pieces because of the stories of these famous historical figures. Like Jefferson, we are all looking for that passion to bring great food to our tables. For if we did not value our health and wealth, we would not have our greens or our silver! With that, it is no doubt that this spring, a sterling silver serving piece would be the perfect accompaniment to any side dish. Please pass the peas!

Visit our website to see the great diversity of second hand sterling silver servers.

Beverly Bremer Silver Shop

A Brief History of Sterling Silver

An article that outlines the use of sterling silver, written by Joseph P. Brady (Beverly Bremer Silver Shop Historian).

A Brief History of Silver

The process of extracting and refining silver dates from the third millennium BC, and the metal was well represented in the wealth of Mesopotamia, Babylon, Egypt, classical Greece and ancient Rome. Silver’s unique properties have made it a wonderful medium for the decorative arts, and its intrinsic value as a precious metal has made it the ultimate and everlasting recyclable. As fashion changed over the decades and centuries, silver has been melted and reshaped into new forms, and in times of economic crisis, for individuals and nations, it has been converted into coin. Its reflective qualities have made it an ideal material for the display of power, wealth or reverence, in palaces, cathedrals, temples and the great houses of Asia, Europe and the Americas.

It was during the Renaissance that silver began to become important for display: An impressive show of silver objects was a telling measure of a person’s wealth and social standing. In the English court, New Year’s gifts of silver were customarily exchanged, and silver was of foremost importance for state occasions. At the same time, silver was the preferred material for the wealthiest aristocratic and merchant classes. The social, rather than the economic, aspects of silver were taking shape.

Etruscan spoons dating from 700 BC are not unlike the ones we use today, and knives were always present at the table, but it was in 16th century Italy that forks began to replace fingers for conveying food to the mouth. As the fork’s popularity spread to France, great changes in manners began. Foods that had previously been eaten by dipping fingers or bread into a common bowl came to be eaten with spoons and forks from individual plates, and by the late 1600’s there existed different plates for different foods. Further, individual chairs replaced benches at the table. This revolution, of sorts, greatly affected the silversmiths’ output, and before the close of the 17th century silversmiths found themselves making large matching services for their wealthy patrons. It was the beginning of table silver as we know it today.

In the 18th century silver more and more became the tangible evidence of wealth, and men a women carried their hard-earned and carefully hoarded coins to the silversmith to be made into usable objects. Theses pieces retained their intrinsic value while being used for celebrations, daily routines or mere display. It is from the American colonies that we get the term American Coin Silver. Although this phrase is commonly linked to simple pointed-end, round-end or fiddle-back spoons, early American silversmiths were, like their English and European counterparts, producing church silver, tankards, beakers, tea sets and tea caddies, trays and salvers, porringers, braziers, candlesticks, etc. The word coin as it pertains to these articles of American silver mainly defines the source of the raw material: Until the 19th century, coins provided the silver makers of nearly all countries with raw material when bullion was scarce, but since silver was not mined commercially in the United States until the 1850’s, coins were the American silversmith’s major resource.

At the beginning of the 19th century, silver services were comparatively simple. However, rising middle and merchant classes on both sides of the Atlantic, as well rich industrialists in the United States, created a great demand for silver objects. The urge to display affluence, along with impetus given by exhibitions in 1851 and 1862, led not only to more ornate styles but a wide range of new serving and individual pieces. This Victorian explosion of tableware seems to have begun simply enough, with the fashion for separate fish knives. Followed, of course by the addition of the fish fork. By the 1870’s, dinner consisted of from five to eighteen courses, and, as one etiquette book stated, the guest could expect “a bewildering array of glass goblets, wine and champagne glasses, numerous forks, knives and spoons.”

Silver manufacturers were soon trying to outdo one another, with one American maker offering 20 different types of individual place setting spoons, 12 different forks and ten different knives. In addition to individual dinner forks, medium forks, dessert forks, fish forks, oyster forks, lobster forks, terrapin forks, salad forks, berry forks, pie forks, fruit forks and ice cream forks, there were specialized forks for serving beef, sardines, bread, olives, asparagus, pickles, etc. The list of specialized forks, spoons, flat servers and knives is almost endless, and reflects, in part, the spiritual need of Victorians to demonstrate the superiority of Man over all other creatures.

Nineteenth-century silver manufacturers had placed great emphasis on industrialization and modern manufacturing techniques, but the early years of the 20th century saw a move to widen the gulf between artist and industrialist. The Arts & Crafts Movement, which saw its beginnings in Europe and spread quickly across the Atlantic, put emphasis on the individual craftsman. The movement saw the important role that craft can play in the “humanizing” of society. The workers in this tradition have aspired to lofty goals, taking the silversmith back to role of artisan. The period between the World Wars brought about great stylistic changes, with the introduction of “Modernism”, later termed the “Art Deco” style. As we begin the 21st century, these objects too are finding their place in museums and private collections.

Though we may lament that much old silver has been lost to the whims of fashion or the loss of fortune, we must also remember that the nineteenth century saw a taste for collecting antique silver: Pieces once melted and refashioned began to be collected for their aesthetic appeal. The same period saw a burgeoning spirit of inquiry and research, and as the 19th century gave way to the 20th, scholarly publications and exhibitions brought new information, and exciting pieces of silver, to light. Silver has a past, a present and a future, and, in many ways, it lives in all three.

Joseph P. Brady

Silver Historian, 2007

To see more sterling silver, take a look around our website : www.beverlybremer.com

Thank you for reading, if you ever have any questions about our services, please feel free to contact us:

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By Phone:  800-270-4009

What is the history of the silver butter dish and how is it used?

An brief insight into the development of the sterling silver butter dish, answering the origin of how circular butter dishes came to be.

Butter in America

Cost and perishability combined, gave butter luxury status on the 19th Century table. In rural areas of the United States, women commonly made butter at home for their family’s consumption and for sale to the city’s grocers. This practice continued long after the advent of factory produced butter in the 1860’s.

In Early 20th Century, the standard for farm and factory production of butter was molding into one pound circular cakes, which measured roughly four inches in diameter. Butter dishes were usually designed to conform to the round shape and featured an ice chamber with a pierced liner, which served to keep the butter above melting ice (figure 1).

Butter Dish Liner (figure1)
Butter Dish Liner (figure1)
The use of a specialized butter knife (figure 2) helped to prevent individuals from plunging their own used knives into the main butter source. Shaping butter cylinders into curls, lead to the introduction of the butter pick (figure 3). Butter picks were specially made to retrieve one curl at a time, without breaking or dropping the delicate serving. This practice can still be found on tables in restaurants and homes, bringing a touch of exquisiteness to any meal.
Master Butter Knife (figure 2)
Master Butter Knife (figure 2)

Butter Pick (figure 3)
Butter Pick (figure 3)

Butter has always been apart of the dining experience. Today, using any knife, we use a foil wrapped piece of butter to season our accompanying side dishes. The butter dish is a piece of art that is a marvelous collectors item, guaranteeing hundreds of years of elegant use with a table setting.

Reference:  Joseph P. Brady (Silver Historian)

Do you have questions regarding sterling silver patterns or serving pieces?

Please comment and we will investigate an answer!

Fish and Visitors: The Fish Slice

An history of the developement of sterling silver fish slices around the world.

Joseph P. Brady Silver Shop Historian

There have been specialized types of flatware-the sardine fork, the cucumber server, the hot cake lifter, etc.-made mostly during the Regency, Victorian, and Edwardian ages, but the fish slice (along with its cousins the tart and pudding servers) is among the earliest of such individualized utensils. The eighteenth century laws that helped to enrich already rich landowners, and the Industrial Revolution, which created a rising middle class of merchants and professional people, created a new appetite for silver tableware that was not satisfied with just knives, spoons, ladles and forks. Specialized servers “in the French manner” we desired, and these broad-blade servers led to a revolution of their own at the table. Its form was largely dictated by its special function, yet this noble piece still manage to speak to us of elegance and grace. Saw-piercing, bright cutting, and elaborate cartouches make these blades their natural home.

1
Figure 1

 

2
 Figure 2

 The fish slice, then, is a broad blade or trowel shaped server, most often used for dividing and serving fish at the table, but the earliest examples were used to serve fried fish directly from the pan (fig1). These early servers, circa1740, use the name “slice,” but their blades are rounded and symmetrical. Elaborately saw-pierced, their main purpose was to drain unwanted cooking juices. As whitebait was commonly fried in the eighteenth century home, the early examples where called whitebait servers. More elongated slices, fish shaped but still symmetrical, appeared after about 1745, and these eventually evolved into the a symmetrical fin shape we see most often(fig2). The symmetrical shape still persisted, but such later examples were usually longer and slightly pointed. Further, the most familiar scimitar blade was rarely made before 1800. The earliest known example was possibly made in London, ca. 1780, by Joseph Steward II (pudding and cake servers appeared at the same time).

The scimitar blade made its first known appearance on the Continent around 1780, but on either side of the Channel there is a bit of a gap, from the early 1780s until the early 1790s, during which almost no such examples were produced. The study of existing examples would suggest that the scimitar shape made its return around 1790 and saw steady gains in popularity until, by circa 1800, it had become the preferred shape for the fish slice. The blade recalls the shape of a fish’s fin, but a suggestion has been made that, especially in its more elongated form, it resembles the outline of a headless fish. This would be very much in keeping with the manner in which the fish appeared at the table.

The baroque and rococo style saw-piercing of the earliest fish slices usually covered the blade from side to side, sometimes leaving a border of less than one quarter inch, with more metal removed than retained. A close examination of the scroll work will show, however, the blade is not at all weakened and the holes are quite strategically placed. The piercing often featured a cartouche or reserve to be engraved with an armorial device or a monogram. The piercing was often enhanced by bright-cutting, with one or more fish forming a central motif(fig 3); fishnet pattern backgrounds were not uncommon. The more elongated neoclassical slices and fin-shaped examples often featured fish backbone-style piercing, while others were pierced with stars or comma shapes, using a punch. During the latter part of the eighteenth century the blade might also feature a border of classical-style interlocking scrolls.

 

3
Figure 3

 The piercing of Georgian fish slices took two forms. Saw-piercing by craftsman was the only method employed when they first appeared and was used throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, bit the steam-driven equipment introduced by Matthew Boulton and James Watt in the late 1760s resulted in mechanical die fly-cutting. This expensive equipment, however, was afforded only by the more prosperous firms , such as the Batemans in London. Pierced examples in Sheffield plate, although not common, can be found today.

As far as slicing and serving at the table is concerned, however, a question arises: How much of the piercing was functionally necessary and how much was simply decoration? After the mid eighteenth century , was usually brought from the kitchen in a pot and transferred to a mazarine or onto a ceramic fish drainer. Indeed, Rabinovitch says that ” the need for a pierced server…becomes questionable.”

Bright-cutting, rather than saw-pierced, more commonly characterizes the decoration of America fish sliced, but many elaborate pierced examples of coin silver can be found. Chasing of the blade became more common in the Art Nouveau period, and early twentieth century examples were usually left plain.

 Joseph P. Brady

Beverly Bremer Silver Shop Historian

Pie and Cake Servers, The Tasty Truth

Cake and Pie Servers History in Recent Past: Read this article to find out about the origins and fucntionality of this vital utensil.

 
Fish Slice
Fish Slice
Pastry Server
Pastry Server
Pie/Cake Server
Pie/Cake Server
Cake Server
Cake Server

You slice into the fresh chocolate cake, seeing the shine of the silver server glimmering in the low light after dinner,  slicing with the motion your grandmother did with the same server.  You think to yourself how many times she had used this utensil before she gave it to you, forgetting the fact just an hour ago you found out you were having in-laws over for dinner.

Gathering for meals has been a time honored practice that dates back before cakes!  In fact the development of tools such as the cake server and the fish slicer were only developed a relatively short time ago.   Beginning as a rough device made from various metals, this perfected piece has been used for many items besides cakes, in fact it is probably the only utensil you cannot do without.

The use of various metal fish, pudding and cake slices (iron, pewter, silver) is well documented as far back as the 16th century. The English cake-like puddings, both savory and sweet, were abundant and, in fact, dinner time was just as often called “pudding time.” These early puddings, which could be meatless, or which could contain meat, fish or fowl, were the earliest foods to be served with flat-blade slices.  Also, a distinction was made between these servers and general cutlery — They were servers for cooked foods, with nothing near the same sharpness of knives.  It should also be noted that stuffing was also commonly called puddings.

 The fish slice and the cake slice seem to have a common ancestor, or set of ancestors, in the trowel-shaped implements that served puddings. During most of the 18th century, both were of similar form, but the fish slice developed a wide, offset scimitar blade, while the cake slice remained more trowel-like. As the 19th century progressed, the trowel, sometimes flat, sometimes “dished,” became standard. By the late 19th century, American silver manufacturers were offering pie knives, pastry servers and cake slices, all of similar but slightly different form, within the same pattern.

In 1909 Tiffany & Co. was offering a “strawberry shortcake server” in addition to pie knives, pastry servers and cake servers. Straight cake slices were also introduced, with either a flat edge or with saw teeth. This explosion in the number and diversity of all kinds of silver servers, and the increased role of the dining rituals that spawned them, is directly related to the expansion of the US economy from the end of the Civil War until the 1920’s.

The Cake Server is flat and is designed for cutting and laying a piece on its side while removing it from the cake. The Pie and Cake Server has a 1-inch bend that allows for a scooping motion into a pie pan as well as a smooth removal of a slice from a cake as displayed below.

Cake Server Side View Cake Server Side View
Pie/Cake Server Side View Pie/Cake Server Side View

 

 

 

Though simple, without this fine piece, there would be many cake and pie slices being cleaned up from the floor!

 

Quotes to Consider:

An article in Scribner’s, circa 1874, describes a “…cake knife which has a fine saw to its splendid blade, to divide the frosting without fracture.”

The book Savory Suppers, Fashionable Feasts: Dining in Victorian America, by Susan Williams, addresses the proliferation and use of new servers, place setting pieces and etiquette books in social and religious terms: “The publication and instant popular interest in Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species in 1859 only fueled such speculative discussions of the critical importance of manners…”

 SOURCE: Joseph P. Brady Beverly Bremer Silver Shop Historian

What size is my sterling silver flatware: Luncheon, Place or Dinner?

From the late 1800’s through the mid 1900’s silver manufacturers produced their silver patterns with two different sizes of knives and forks for a main course: luncheon, which was the smaller size, and dinner the larger size.  Many people had and used both sizes; luncheon size was used primarily for breakfast and lunch, while the dinner size was used for more formal dinners. Luncheon and dinner sizes remain the standard for English, American and continental makers to this day.

 A size called: “grill” or “viande” was popular for a short time around WWII.  The knives and forks are characterized with elongated handles and short knife blades and fork tines. 

 During the late 1950s and early 1960s, many manufacturers introduced an entirely new size called the “place size”.  This size is commonly slightly larger than the luncheon size, but smaller than the dinner size.  Some renamed their smaller, luncheon size forks and changed only the style of the knife and began calling both the new place size.  To distinguish between the many pieces, the Gorham company often places a small <P> within a diamond on the back of the place forks as well as on the stainless steel blade of the place knife above the Gorham name. 

Place Fork and Place Knife pictured on the left.  Luncheon Fork and Luncheon Knife French Blade on the right.
Place Fork and Place Knife pictured on the left. Luncheon Fork and Luncheon Knife French Blade on the right.

 The many choices have confused consumers for the past fifty years.  You do not need to be confused!  You may determine the size of your set by measuring the knife and largest fork in your place setting.   Place the fork face down on a ruler for the most accurate measurement.  A luncheon fork measures between 6 7/8″ and 7 1/4″ whereas a dinner fork can measure between 7 1/2″ and 8″.  The place size fork measures between 7 1/4″ and 7 3/8″.  A luncheon knife measures 8 3/4″ to 9″ and a dinner knife between  9 5/8″ and  10″.  The place knife measures 9 1/8″ to 9 1/4″ in length.  If you have any questions as to which size you have in your set, you may visit our website www.beverlybremer.com to find your pattern where each piece is listed with a measurement or you may call one of our experts at 800.270.4009. 

 

From top to bottom as follows: Luncheon Fork, Place Fork and Dinner Fork in Strasbourg by Gorham
From top to bottom as follows: Luncheon Fork, Place Fork and Dinner Fork in Strasbourg by Gorham

 

 

From top to bottom as follows: Luncheon Knife Tapered Blade, Place Knife and Dinner Knife Tapered Blade in Strasbourg by Gorham
From top to bottom as follows: Luncheon Knife Tapered Blade, Place Knife and Dinner Knife Tapered Blade in Strasbourg by Gorham

 Many people who have a luncheon size set add dinner knives and forks to their set to offer flexibility in entertaining.  Likewise, people purchase extra luncheon forks for use for buffet or for dessert service paired with a dessert spoon and set at the top of a dinner plate. 

Luncheon, place, dinner, or even viande your silver should be used and enjoyed every time you set your table!  The value of your set can increase  10 times every 50 years- even with everyday use!

 

Asparagus Servers, their Origin and Use

Sterling Influences: Early Spring Stalks

Asparagus, in earlier centuries going by such names as “sparrow grass” and “sparagrass,” was cultivated by the Romans as early as 200 BCE.  Though consumption waned during the Middle Ages, it was revived during the reign of Louis XIV.  Thomas Jefferson sowed asparagus seeds at Monticello, and noted in his writings the vegetable’s first appearance each spring.  Mary Jefferson Randolph’s directions for cooking the dish were quite detailed, from scraping the stalks and correctly tying the bundles, to timing the cooking so as to bring out their “…true flavour and colour,” noting that “a minute or two more boiling destroys both.”1  The appearance of this harbinger of spring was cause for much celebration, and specialized servers were designed to enhance the experience.

 

"Yoked" asparagus tongs, London, circa 1846 (# 24437)
"Yoked" asparagus tongs, London, circa 1846 (# 24437)

The earliest asparagus servers date from the mid 18th century, and were scissor-like tongs with narrow corrugated arms.  As the 18th century gave way to the 19th, asparagus servers widened, taking the form of bow-back tongs with a collar or yoke – a form more commonly seen on the market today.

 

 

Individual asparagus tongs, London, circa 1909 (# 64809)
Individual asparagus tongs, London, circa 1909 (# 64809)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hinged asparagus tongs fitted with a spring appeared in England, on the European Continent and in the United states by the mid 19th century, and by the late 19th century American silversmiths were making a very practical fork-shaped asparagus server.  These asparagus forks usually, but not always, had blunt tines, to prevent tearing of the delicate stalks, as well as a shovel-like curve. 

 

Asparagus fork, St. Cloud by Gorham (# 70570)
Asparagus fork, St. Cloud by Gorham (# 70570)

 

Specialty silver trays were eventually made for the serving of asparagus:  These were rectangular or oblong in form, with a pierced liner which kept the stalks from sitting in liquid.  And although it is quite correct to eat asparagus with the fingers, individual asparagus tongs were introduced in the 19th century, by silversmiths catering to either the self-conscious or to those Victorians wanting to demonstrate Man’s superiority over all other creatures.

Asparagus Tray, Gorham Mfg. Co., Providence, Rhode Island, circa 1915
Asparagus Tray, Gorham Mfg. Co., Providence, Rhode Island, circa 1915 (# 61472)

Hot or chilled, served plain, marinated, or with a rich hollondaise sauce, asparagus has been celebrated for centuries.

 

— Joseph P. Brady, Silver Historian, 2009

 1   Dining at Monticello, edited by Damon Lee Fowler, p 61