For a while now I had intended to write about medium forks. Medium meaning design not size. The photo below shows the design of which I speak.
The fork on the left is approximately 7 and 5/8 inches long and the fork on the right is 7 and 1/4 inches. I believe this pattern was also made in an 8 inch length and there a Sears ad which showed a 7 inch length. I have seen catalog pages which refer to these forks as “Medium” forks regardless of length. I have an Upson & Hart box which is simply marked “Medium Forks” with no other pattern design indicated.
Many different manufacturers offered Medium forks. I found it curious that these forks were called Medium regardless of size and I thought it would make an interesting subject for a blog post.
But I kept procrastinating about writing a post and almost forgot about it until a woman recently sent me a photo of her fork, one of these Medium design forks, Her fork was 7 and 1/4 inches long and her question was, is it a dinner or dessert fork? Hmmm….
This 7 and 1/4 inch length is one of the shorter lengths that I know of in this design. In general, the majority of dessert forks are shorter than 7 inches. But lengths and uses varied over the years and by manufacturers. This length could have been the dessert / luncheon fork size. The problem is, most catalogs and ads from that time did not provide information regarding lengths of the different pieces.
I took a look in my 1878 Meriden Britannia 1847 Rogers Price list to see if they had any illuminating tidbits.
Their basic forks are broken down by dessert, medium and table followed by specialty forks such as oyster, fish and pickle. But no dimensions are included. And since this was one of the smaller sizes I had seen in this design, I would assume that the 7 and 1/4 inch would be dessert, the 7 and 5/8 inch would be the medium size and the 8 inch would be the table fork size.
The pattern names were listed under each size but there was no Medium pattern included.
There were illustrations of medium knife handles but they truly seemed to indicate size as pattern names were included such as Swiss and Windsor.
I moved to the 1886/87 Meriden Britannia catalog which showed the same dessert, medium and table fork headings and no dimensions. A page from that catalog follows. What I find interesting is that the first two knives are labelled as Medium but they clearly have different lengths…one has a celluloid handle and the other has an ivory handle.
There is a page in the 1886 catalog that shows this fork design but does not refer to it as Medium. The knives are labelled dessert and medium but not the fork.
I took a look at Replacements Ltd. as they do include dimensions. They refer to this pattern as INS245. The only fork they show is the 7 and 5/8. While at Replacements I looked at a few other 1847 Rogers patterns from the late 1800s. I could not find dessert fork dimensions. They showed forks, just “fork” with no other descriptive term, ranging from 7 to 7 and 5/8 inches.
So what do you think? Would a 7 and 1/4 inch fork be a dessert fork, luncheon fork, dinner fork or all of the above?
I’ll tackle the use of the term “Medium” as a design description in another post.