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Sardine fork (Arabesque)

Object Number: 
1950.173
Date: 
ca. 1871
Medium: 
Silver
Dimensions: 
Overall: 6 3/8 x 1 5/8 x 5/8 in. ( 16.2 x 4.1 x 1.6 cm ) Silver Weight: 1 oz (troy) 4 dwt (37 g)
Marks: 
engraved: on the handle: "D" in gothic script stamped: on the underside of the stem: "BALL, BLACK & CO STERLING"
Description: 
Silver sardine fork with downturned trifid-end handle with foliate scroll decoration and shield-shaped reserve, engraved, "D" in gothic script; baluster stem has fan-shaped terminal and chamfered sugarloaf shoulders; spade-shaped fork bowl has foliate engraving across surface and four pointed tines; maker's hallmarks stamped at underside of the stem.
Gallery Label: 
Sardines became a fashionable food after the Civil War, and thus an opportunity for silver manufacturers to craft specialized flatware. Because canned sardines were costly, they were viewed as elegant fare. Silver sardine forks were manufactured by many American silver firms during the late nineteenth century, often designed with shaped or wide bowls, such as the one on this example, and from three to eleven tines. Sardine forks were among the many specialized silver forks, spoons, and knives that were produced during the second half of the nineteenth century. Linked to the nineteenth-century rise of American consumerism, this specialization coincided with the increasing commercialization of American weddings. In fact, this fork was given to Marie Antoinette Baker (1848-1909) on the occasion of her marriage to Fellowes Davis (1848-1920) in 1871.
Credit Line: 
Gift of Mr. Dudley Davis in memory of his mother Marie Antoinette Baker Davis
Provenance: 
Given to Marie Antoinette Baker (1848-1909), who married Fellowes Davis (1848-1920); to their son, Dudley Davis (1884-1965), the donor.
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
Creative: Tronvig Group