Silverware is a funny thing. My guess is most people don’t pay much attention to it unless they go to pick up a fork and it’s dirty, or maybe when they are registering for wedding gifts. A spoon is a spoon. A fork is a fork. Big whoop, right?
It wasn’t until a few years at an Italian restaurant where I took notice. Instead of having one set of dishes or silver, everything was a little…different. All the plates were white, but slightly…different. All the silver was quality stuff – substantial, real silver – but no two pieces at the table matched. How odd it felt to cut into to chicken Parmesan with two beautiful instruments so clearly designed to function apart. My silverware at home was a small set of discontinued Crate & Barrel, which was missing a few forks, and reminded of times I would have rather forgotten. It looked nice enough but carried no character. Not that I spent a lot of time thinking about it. I didn’t think about silverware…
…and THAT got me thinking. Actually, it got me doing math (!) My 35 years multiplied by three meals a day totals out at somewhere around 38,000. That’s 38,000 occasions when I have held a fork or a spoon and used them to shovel something in my mouth. Thirty-eight thousand. Why would I spend so much time and money considering a shirt that I’ll wear, what -10 times, if that — and not pay attention to the objects that I handle every day? Why? Why was I not thinking about silverware?
You can’t tell the scale from the photo above but these are serving pieces. Large. They belonged to my father’s mother. My guess is they migrated to our house at a family dinner in the early 80s while the larger set of everyday forks and knives remained at my grandmother’s house. The story was that the set was purchased by my uncle as a gift for his mom while on military leave in or around Vietnam. I remember using them as a kid specifically because it was always my job to wash them afterwards while the adults sat around the table and drank. Everything else went in the pink dishwasher, but it was my job to wash the golden silverware by hand. At the time, I thought it was a rotten chore to give a kid because they were hard to handle without poking yourself on a fork tine, but, the knife-edges are irrationally dull. So, as chores go, it could have been worse.
Because the three lonely serving pieces were gold, I have never used them much. I just kept them around a memento of my father’s family. Then a couple weeks ago I spotted a coordinating assortment of those trident style forks and butter knives in a cast-off bins at Goodwill. I nearly did not get them, but then sold myself on the idea thinking they might make a good photo prop or something. Then the next week I spotted a few more at nearby store and took it as a sign: TAKE ME HOME. Then, of course I got on Ebay and there has been no turning back ever since.
Because they are handwash, I don’t see these gold beauties going into daily circulation. I’m not that fussy. My friend Ann (cherry blossom Ann) is a collector of all sorts of good things – a few years ago she was kind enough to gift me a set of Lady Hamilton silver, and it’s excellent stuff. A classic pattern, and durable enough to withstand the dishwasher but real enough to tarnish if I don’t occasionally hand wash with baking soda.
The one thing about the gold collection, though, is the odd shapes. Cappuccino spoons. Teensy shrimp forks.
I mean, WTF are these?
I don’t even know.
They all look alike, but non of them match. It’s especially obvious with the knives. Not the blades, not the handles. At a glance it all looks the same but is actually a hodge-podge of different sets. I sort of love that.
I love the idea of having a set of silver with a history. A past. I love the idea of everyday objects carrying a character and a history of their own. And now they are all chatting and dancing together together in my kitchen drawers.
Oh please, oh please let someone know what those pieces are! It would be awesome to serve the “trident course” and have everyone stabbing each other with those weird pitchforks.
Let’s just call that one a trident. Someone come through with names for the other two.
The one in the middle is a cheese knife. So annoyingly mundane. Lets rename it a Knork (knife and fork combo!) As far as the spoon, I feel like it should be for raw oysters only.
Knork it is!! 🙂
I’ll be serving the trident and knork courses at my next dinner party.
Oysters, jam, whatever that spoon-thing is will most definitely be used for the Nutella course.
You’re all obviously invited.
Lovely! When my Nana passed away, I got a set of silver silverware. Now I am kicking myself that I didn’t request the gold tableware as well!
Nanas always have the best stuff!
Omg, I love those so, so much!!! Fantastic. Completely jealous.
Suzonne, if you are all at interested, I just saw full 120 piece set going for $30 (as of now) on Ebay. I’m going to hold off and see how often I used mine before I seek out new additions, but…a bargain is worth sharing 🙂 http://www.ebay.com/itm/Thai-Bronze-Flatware-Set-120-Pc-Bronzeware-W-Chest-/121553568724?pt=US_Flatware_Silverware&hash=item1c4d2843d4
I totally fell down the eBay rabbit hole after reading this! I really liked this one –http://www.ebay.com/itm/Large-144-Pc-Set-Siam-Bronze-Rosewood-Flatware-Service-12-Teakwood-Cased-/331464369608
It’s a little more expensive, but it’s a bigger set with more weird serving pieces and whatever, but really, LOOK at that triple decker case. And all in violently pink lining? Ugh, I need a bigger kitchen. I would happily throw over my crummy college flatware if I could find the space to keep the cool stuff.
Thanks for making my maximalism love more mainstream, Aunt Peaches. When my friends look askance at me for saying OMG over brass flatware, I can just point at your blog and say See? I’m not alone!
That is a great price for an all-in set. Dang. Don’t be tempting me like that!
I think a lot of these are different because they were probably made in home workshops, you know like a cottage industry. It’s nice that they go together, though. The last picture: The funny fork might be a pickle fork. The knife might be a bar knife, the spoon is some kind of jam spoon. I guess I should go look for my set to see what I have. It’s still wrapped up from when I shipped it from Florida along with the other family “heirlooms”. Be careful with acid foods like vinegars, etc. Also dairy foods. They might stain the brass a little.
Jam spoon! I knew I knew that from somewhere. You don’t see those everyday.
And I like the idea of home industries. I don’t think of flatware being made on a small scale like baskets or wooden spoons, but who am I to say? People are industrious!
Ah a jam spoon! Yes I think that’s a pickle fork too and the other one I believe is a cheese knife. Lovely! Now that I know they exist I must have a jam spoon.
And do you have egg spoons? They are funny, quite shovel shaped and mine are quite sharp too.
No egg spoons. At least not yet!
Love this post!
I’m sure this is related to nada, but as a child of the 60s, I recognize that knife with the fangs. We always called it a cheese fork. After slicing the cheese, for way too frequent cheese and meatfests, you sort of stabbed the piece of cheese with the fangs. I guess it was instead of getting another serving utensil to balance on those silly little cheeseboards. The fang toothed knife preceded our foray into all things fondue-y.
Ahhhhhhh. That would make sense indeed. I was hoping the fangs were for something slightly esoteric, but cheese is good by me 😉
Yes, I believe the fork is a pickle fork, the knife is for cheese, and the spoon looks like it is oyster shaped, so probably used for scooping out the meat and juice of the oyster.
I grew up with a set of these, in the 80’s, but I don’t know how old they were. We didn’t use them other than company, like really, really good company, so hardly ever got to use them. When my sister and I had a sitter, though, we used them with pizza delivery and washed them before my mom got back. Good times!
These are ridiculously beautiful and eBay is SOOOO tempting! I bought silver flatware with bamboo handles at a market recently but am waiting for a special occasion to use them. Looks like I might have to order pizza, Carissa 🙂
I think the narrow spoon is a sauce spoon of sorts. – The spoon’s flatter narrow bowl and thin edge aids scooping a thin layer of sauce from a plate without resorting to tipping the plate.
Hi, so I found some flatware identical to what you have and was wondering if you could tell me how much they are worth, and how to go about selling them to someone! Your collection is awesome!
Ebay, Ebay, Ebay. Price values entirely on how many pieces you have and their condition, but if you search “brass wood flatware” on Ebay I’m sure you’ll be able to find something in the same ballpark and gag from there. Good luck!
Just bought 120 piece set plus serving pieces for $3.50 at Goodwill in Indianapolis.