Silver-related Ads - Refresh screen or scroll down right sidebar for more choices

Thursday, October 23, 2008

About Forks

This is a companion post to our very first post on October 18, 2008, "About Knives". I invite you to read that post before reading this one.

Just as with knives, many sterling flatware patterns include at least three different sizes of "primary" forks. Below is an example of forks in the Buttercup pattern by Gorham, starting at the top:
  • Dinner ............ 7 1/2 inches long
  • Place ............... 7 1/2 inches long
  • Luncheon ....... 7 inches long

You are probably asking yourself, "So, what's the difference between place and dinner forks in this pattern? They are the same length." In the case of Buttercup, there is a difference between the length ratio of handle-to-tines. The dinner fork has longer tines and a shorter handle. Also, the dinner fork is slightly wider at the base of the tines. The result is a more "hefty" feel for the dinner fork.

It should be noted that every pattern is different with respect to this type of fork. Some have three different lengths, some have two, etc. If you are buying a fork, you should verify these size parameters with the seller to make sure the fork matches your need:
  • Overall length
  • Length of tines and handle
  • Width at the base of the tines

Don't judge the size by name alone. Buyers and sellers often are confused about nomenclature.

Salad forks also may come in different sizes. The picture below illustrates salad forks from the Buttercup pattern by Gorham, from top to bottom:

  • Place salad fork ..... 6 3/4 inches long
  • Salad fork ............... 6 3/8 inches long

Not every pattern has multiple lengths of salad forks but you should verify the size anyway before buying.

You may sometimes see a salad fork identified as a dessert fork or fish fork. Again, always verify size and look at a picture before buying.

Click on any picture to see a larger version. By clicking on "Comments" below, you can see posted comments and add your own questions/comments.


Anonymous said...

Physically, is there a differnce between a salad fork and a dessert fork or is the same fork given two different names depending on what it is to be used for?

Silver Jim said...

Dessert forks take on differnt shapes and meaning depending on the pattern and when a piece was manufactured. For example, see our blog post about dessert forks vs. luncheon forks.

Today, salad forks are often used for dessert but this may not be the "official" designation from the manufacturer. There are also forks known as "pastry" forks and ice cream forks.

Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

my mother-in-law has silver that was her grandmothers (circa 1890), the dinner forks, and they are certainly dinner forks, have 4 tines, but the inside tine is about 1/4 of an inch shorter than the others. was this a past custom and why?

Silver Jim said...

The shorter tines are new to me. Maybe someone else can help.

Anonymous said...

My grandmother had serving spoons that were a good 1/2" narrower on one side than the other. I called them mashed potato spoons because she would whip the potatoes in the old steel pans with those spoons and "wear" them down! LOL...

II can still vision her in the kitchen Whippin Up those Mashed Potatoes!

I deduct that over the many years the forks were used to whip potatoes or mix up gravy and are shorter from use!

It adds character and charm to the set though they (like disposal damaged sterling flatware) can be repaired.

Dallas Silversmiths