As Britain is an island nation, it is little wonder the design of implements to serve and eat fish was taken seriously. This pair of fish servers are wonderful examples of the skill of the craftsmen who catered to this obsession. The handles are fashioned from horn, which was not only cut in the shape of fish, but also engraved to create scales and fins. The artistic addition of glass eyes with enameled black centers help achieve the end result of a fish that has a fork or a knife attached.
Both pieces are hallmarked, but I cannot tell if the marks read “W.R. & Co.” or “W.B. & Co.” If the former, it stands for Wingfield Rowbotham & Company with a registry date of 1899. If the latter, it stands for William Briggs & Company with a registry date of 1904. The fourth boxed mark is probably that of the journeyman who made them. In any case, these fish servers date to around the turn of the previous century.
Both the fork and knife parts are heavily engraved with designs in the silver plate. The silver collars are embossed and are sterling. The handle of the serving knife is slightly longer than that of the fork. This allows one to grip the horn handle more firmly in order to pick up the fish.
Although I have had many fine examples of fish servers over the years, I haven’t previously come across ones with this design. Both came as a set in their original, blue silk-lined box. Obviously, they were made as a high-end set designed for a wealthier family.
The condition of both is excellent, especially considering their age and type. The horn handles have no scratches or abrasions, and they have acquired a beautiful color and patina. The silver plate knife blade has a few minute light surface scratches. These are not readily seen unless held to the light. The business end of the fork has a few of the same type of surface scratches, though mainly on the back and not on the front. The silver collars are mostly clear from any use marks. Although the pair came in their original box, the box is worn.
These make a beautiful, functional and unique pair of fish servers. In fact, if I served fish on a regular basis, I would keep them for myself as they are so amazing. They would make a beautiful wedding or anniversary gift.
The knife measures 11-3/4 inches long. The widest point of the silver plate blade is 1-7/8 inches. The fork server is 9-1/8 inches long, and the tongs are 1-3/4 inches wide.
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