“The fork has now become the favorite and fashionable utensil for conveying food to the mouth. First it crowded out the knife, and now in its pride it has invaded the domain of the once powerful spoon. The spoon is now pretty well subdued also, and the fork, insolent and triumphant, has become a sumptuary tyrant."
This quote is from a surprisingly fascinating history of the fork, which is an item frequently featured in Nelson and Nelson's fine selection of antique sterling silver flatware. It wasn't until the 19th century that forks enjoyed general acceptance in the West, and Victorians, with their general predisposition to excess in etiquette, quickly developed a fork for every dining stuff, from shellfish to salads and pastries. Here's an excellent rule of thumb when it comes to forks:
Forks with long tapered tines (dinner forks) are used for spearing thick morsel of food, such as proteins. Forks with a wider left time and an optional notch (salad fork, fish fork, dessert fork and pastry fork), provide extra leverage when cutting foods that do not require a knife. Forks with curved tines (oyster fork) are made to follow the shape of the shell.
This unique set of 12 Gorham terrapin forks, circa 1900, features sharp tines for spearing firm meat in turtle soup. broth. The forks are in very good condition and weigh in at a heavy 12.5 troy ouces. Eight of the 12 bowls are slightly gilded (4 are not), and all are marked on the back with the Gorham hallmark and sterling. For more information, click here.
This set of 10 Gorham ice cream forks features a highly decorative Rococo pattern, with intricate flowers, leaves and scrolls. Each fork depicts a woman on the top of the front of each handle. Made circa 1900, the set is in excellent condition and weighs 6.5 ounces. For more information, click here.