A Chelsea Knife and Fork, circa 1750-55

Of pistol-grip shape and small size, the hafts are decorated with panels edged with reeding, and containing moulded sprays of flowers and foliage. The knife is fitted with a silver scimitar blade, the fork with three silver tines on a baulster stem. Silver ferrules. Both pieces are hallmarked for the silversmith Richard Poulden, London, 1822.

The floral moulding is borrowed from the Meissen Gotzkowsky erhabene Blumen, designed by J.F. Eberlein (1741-44). The design corresponds with the moulded decoration found on some Chelsea Red Anchor plates. It is quite likely that knives and forks such as this would have been used in conjunction with them. The inspiration for this type of decoration derives from Chinese Qianlong wares, which were in turn inspired by Ming (and earlier) use of anhua or ‘veiled’ decoration.

Provenance: An English Private Collection.

Condition: Both hafts have been broken and restuck. The silver fittings are all good.

Dimensions: Length of knife 21.6 cm (including blade); Length of fork 17.5 cm (including tines) 

A Review of Chelsea, Chelsea, Derby and Derby Knife and Fork Hafts, Tony Stevenson (ECC Transactions, vol. 14, no. 1, 1990).

Cutlery: From Gothic to Art Deco – The J. Hollander Collection, Jan van Trigt (Petraco-Pandora NV, 1999).