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Monday, November 23, 2009

U.S. Government Restriction on Pattern Pieces?

A blog reader sent in the following question:
I remember reading somewhere that the US government limited the number of pieces that could be made in any pattern. I believe I remember reading this was after the Victorian era because they created so many pieces. Is this true and if so what did they limit the number to?
No one in our group is aware of this. Can anyone out there help? Send an email or post a comment.

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Anonymous said...

I read that aswell I think its 80 pieces per pattern. But its true.

Steven said...

I too have heard about the US Patent Office imposing a limit, some time in the early 1930's if I recall correctly. Patterns already with 100's of pieces in each pattern (like Stieff Rose and Gorham Chantilly) were grandfathered and allowed to maintain their large repertoire of pieces.

Anonymous said...

I believe Pres. Hoover did this symplification, and it related not to total number of pieces in a service but to number of pieces in a standard place setting. It's possible this was done at the request of the industry. There's a tremendous book on the welter of Victorian dining implements, including silver, china, etc. It's called "Savory Suppers and Fashionable Feasts," written by Susan Williams, who was at time of publication (about 1985) a curator at Strong Museum in Rochester, NY, which is heavy on Victoriana. She says the dining table of the middle class became a sort of altar....

Scott Perkins said...

In 1925, then Secretary of Commerce, Herbert Hoover tried to get the number of pieces in a flatware set restricted to 55. It is said that this was due to the high price/shortage of silver, and that the program had the backing of the Silver trade assoc.

The restriction did not hold.. but it was enough for the manufactures to greatly cut back on the multitude of different and obscure pieces of flatware that were being made. The onset of the great depression also helped flatten silver sales and production.

At the time of the attempted restriction.. that curator of American taste and etiquette, Emily Post stated "No rule of etiquette is of less importance than which fork we use."

Hoover was a great instigator of standardization including things like railroad tracks, screw and nail size.