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Saturday, October 18, 2008

About Knives

We receive questions about knives more than any other topic. So here are some points to help reduce the confusion.

Blade Shape
You see in the picture below the three common blade shapes in use today. The knives shown are in the Buttercup pattern by Gorham. The knife on top has a "blunt" blade. Blades with this shape are not manufactured much any more, if at all. The middle knife is often called "modern hollow knife". It's probably the most popular blade shape being manufactured now. The bottom knife has a "French" blade. All three shapes come in different lengths (discussed below). There is an older French blade shape not shown here that has a slightly wider blade and a more rounded point.

Knife Length
The next picture illustrates different knife lengths. Many sterling flatware patterns offer three different lengths of knife. The Chantilly by Gorham modern hollow knives in this picture are, from top to bottom:

  • Luncheon..... 8 7/8 inches long
  • Place............. 9 1/4 inches long
  • Dinner.......... 9 1/2 inches long
  • Note the differences in the relationship between handle length and blade length. There is also a noticeable difference in the weight of the knives.

    In the case of the Chantilly pattern, French blade knives are also offered in luncheon, place and dinner lengths but they are slightly different from the modern hollow knife lengths. There is another length category you will not see often - "continental". It's larger than dinner length.

    Here are a few points regarding knives today...

    1. Specific use is not as important as it once was; i.e., luncheon knives are used for dinner and vice-versa. Very few people can afford three complete sets of knives so the place size has become a popular compromise.
    2. The names of the sizes are not used precisely; i.e., some people call place knives dinner knives, some people call dinner knives place knives, etc. Some people think French blade knives are luncheon knives. So, we tend to pay attention to actual measurements of the knives and the shape of the blade in pictures rather than trying to define them by name.
    3. Most sterling silver knives currently in manufacture only have sterling handles. Most blades are stainless steel.
    4. Most knives offered for sale on sites like eBay are luncheon or place lengths. If you don't understand the length exactly for a piece you are considering buying, ask the seller for length specifications. Assuming equal condition, the longer the knife, the higher the price.

    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.


    Linda D. Okazaki said...

    I am looking for knives for a set of Gorham New Tipt 1870. I have not found knives listed anywhere. Could you suggest a knife that would work with this pattern?


    cindy said...

    I am intrigued.... We are selling some sterling flatware, and the knives are "French Blade" They have a tiny notch on the 'spine' side of the blade. What is/was the purpose for said notch???

    Silver Jim said...

    I don't know what the purpose of the notch is. Just like I have not been able to figure out why some butter knives have notches!

    If you would like an offer for your set, send an inventory of pieces to my email address. Link is in the upper right column).