One of my hobbies is collecting antique sterling flatware. In doing so, I have spent a great deal of time trying to identify some random piece I found in the back of an old antique store. And for those not so inclined, here is a bit of knowledge I have learned. A full place setting consists of more than just a knife, fork, and spoon or even a dinner fork, salad fork, dinner knife, teaspoon, and butter knife. A full place setting is made up of 56 different pieces, with few being on the table at any given time. With each course, there is a different set of utensils, not to mention the dozens of various serving utensils.
Take place forks for example. Beyond the dinner fork and salad fork, there are Cake Forks, Pie Forks,Caviar Forks, and a Cherry Fork (not to be confused with a Strawberry Fork). There are Terrapin Forks, Escargot Forks, Lobster Forks, Oyster Forks, Sardine Forks, and Fish Forks. There are Ice Cream Forks - that differ from Ice Cream Spoons. You may also find a Ramekin Fork. I could go on, but I will not bore you.
There are also different sizes of place settings. For instance a luncheon setting is a bit smaller than a dinner setting. And there is a Grille size (but very rare) that is larger than the dinner setting.
The height of sterling flatware was in the Victorian and Edwardian periods. As I often say, the Victorians never found a dish that they could not create a unique utensil for. Perhaps the concern of not knowing which fork to use has some merit after all.
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