Making Silverware in the Good Old Days

| 1/21/2013 2:09:35 PM

A week or so ago, at the big Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, one of the new gadgets demonstrated was called the “HapiFork.” Inside the handle are sensors that time the interval between bites and vibrates if you’re eating too fast. In addition, the fork sends your Smart Phone information on how long it takes you to eat, how long you wait between bites, and how many bites you take. A spokesman for the creator says: “We created (the HapiFork) to help people take control of their happiness, health and fitness.” And it costs just $99.99 including battery and charger!

Now, to get away from what I consider silly, expensive, useless electronic items and back to reality.

When we're sitting down to a table that's been set for a fancy dinner, we usually find two forks, one for salad and one with which to eat the main courses. No one gives much thought to how these indispensable items of what we term "silverware" are made. Today, and for more than a century and a half, cutlery items, such as knives, forks and spoons, are machine made; however that was not always the case.

Sheffield, during the 19th century a gritty, smoky steel town in north-central England, became famous for "Sheffield Steel," from which high quality cutting utensils have been manufactured since at least the 1600s.

In a reprint of the April 27, 1844 issue of Penny Magazine is an account of a visit to a factory in Sheffield where forks were being made by a group of men whose title was, appropriately enough, "Fork-maker." Among the other job titles in the cutlery factories were: "Cutlery Caster," "Tableknife-maker," "Penknife-maker," "Razor-maker," and even "Spade and Shovel-maker."

I found the account of how forks were made in 1844 interesting and I hope you do as well.


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