Knife and fork
Date Made/Found: around 1750
Material and Medium: iron and steel, silver, aventurine glass
Department: Decorative Art
Accession Number: Virtual2004.464-465
This knife and two tine fork were made around 1750. The blade is stamped with the mark 'BOOG'. This mark was not registered by a Sheffield cutler, so the blade was probably manufactured elsewhere. It is also possible that this was the retailer's mark.
The set is quite small in relation to most table knives and forks of this period and was perhaps used at dessert. The blade is a shape known as scimitar, characterised by its curved shape and bulbous end. The hafts are a shape known as pistol grip, popular in the 1700s. The join between the blade, fork and their hafts is covered and reinforced by a thin piece of silver with a scalloped edge. This feature is called a ferrule.
The hafts are made from a material called aventurine glass (also known as goldstone). It is made by mixing copper crystals with molten glass. This process was discovered by chance in Venice by a member of the Miotto family of glassmakers in the early 1600s. It has a beautiful blue colour with streaks of glittering brown. A form of quartz was later discovered and named aventurine due to its close resemblance to aventurine glass.
During the 1700s, aventurine glass was imported from Venice in blocks. These were melted down and used to create pieces such as these hafts. It was also often used in the manufacture of silver and Old Sheffield Plate snuff boxes, its bright blue colour being used to symbolise clouds in the relief scenes that decorated their lids.
These objects form part of the Bill Brown Collection. Supported by The Art Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund and the Friends of Sheffield Galleries & Museums Trust.
Information from the marks registry courtesy of the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire.