English 1920's Mother of Pearl Fruit Set/Dessert Set (12 Forks & 12 Knives)
The contrast of gleaming silver against swirls of iridescent pearly white is pretty irresistible. This dessert set from England is also known as a fruit set, "Fruit Eaters" or cake knives and forks. It is comprised of 12 place settings (12 knives and forks) in silver plate with mother of pearl handles. It comes housed in its original, navy velvet-lined mahogany box, complete with its original lock and key (most likely circa 1920's, but possibly late 19th c.).
The set is quite unique as it is possible that they were never or seldom used. Each knife and fork came wrapped individually in a tissue thin paper. We have of course unwrapped them to verify their condition - excellent!
The anterior surface of each knife is embellished with an engraved foliate decoration accented with tiny stars. The anterior surface of each fork is ornamented with a bright cut engraved shield or cartouche design. The collar on each piece has a geometric pattern of horizontal stripes, giving it that Art Deco look.
Dimensions & Details
- Mother of pearl and silver plate.
- Please note that since they are a dessert set, they are a bit smaller than dinnerware. They forks are a little over 6 inches in length. The knives are approximately 6 3/4 in length.
Period & Hallmarks
- Circa 1920's, possibly earlier.
- They are in excellent condition with no condition issues. Slight wear to the outside of the wood box that houses the set. Please note that these should be hand-washed as a dish washer will damage the mother of pearl. Avoid getting polish or silver cleaning chemicals on the Mother of Pearl.
More About the Fruit Set
Just as with antique or vintage jewelry, I love things that are pretty, well-made, but that still makes sense in a modern setting.
The formal 19th c. dinner in England typically had multiple courses. A dinner party for 12 might include the following: A 1st course of either fish or soup; followed by an entree course that might be, for example, a Filet de Beouf, then a second course of roast or leg of lamb, this followed by a third which might be comprised of a fowl and interestingly enough jams, jellies and creams (but not actually the dessert course), and then at last the dessert (e.g. fruit, pudding, nuts, ices).
While we don't often entertain like the Victorians, the idea of having a dessert course that might include something sweet and a fruit is especially appealing after a heavy Holiday meal. Today, this dessert fork & knife can be placed at the top (12:00 position) of plate. During the last half of the 19th c. the table would have been cleared, reset and the dessert set would have come out with the dessert course.
This set is also great for a fruit/cheese course or the savories and light sweets that might go with afternoon tea or a summer lunch.
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