Exceptional & RARE COMPLETE antique French c. 1810-1838 or earlier Napoleonic to Louis-Philippe era 14pc table knife set, a complete dinner sized service for twelve with two matching meat carving pieces, elegant ebony or ebonized wood handles with sterling silver crest or shield shaped inlays and original shaped & fitted storage and/or presentation box! WOW, an OLD set though you'd really not know from the superb condition they're in. Meant to compliment a fine set of antique sterling silver dinner flatware and as wonderful as can be. The old knives are always best with antique flatware but they're often hard to find, especially in such presentable shape. A traditional wedding gift, magnificent French sterling silver flatware sets were almost always packaged without knives. Why is this? Another French tradition has to do with the gift of knives or a knife as a symbol of the cutting or ending of a relationship. And no where on earth is tradition more important, perhaps, than to the French culture. So, in light of the symbolism of the gift, knives were not part of a wedding gift, not packaged or even usually made with the matching pattern of the forks, spoons in a set, and are something added later and as compliments to the table's sterling silver choice. And ever the center influence in fashion, this also opportuned the happy result of knives made in coordinating and complimenting fashion with handles of rich elegant mother of pearl, fine ivory, blond natural horn, or exotic hardwoods like ebony (a French Empire 'must') walnut, rosewood. The result is that you can add sets of knives to compliment and define your table setting.
More about knives: Louis XIV, A renaissance man if ever there were one, The Sun King - builder of Versailles, was also the man responsible for the design of the modern table knife. Prior to his time, knives used at table were similar to knives used to kill game, fight wars, and possibly kill Kings. There was a time when knives were even banned from table for such intrigues, and it was Louis XIV's table upon which the blunt and rounded tip knives for dining were introduced to the world at large. A side note: With the massive size of the dinner fork and spoon in French sterling, one need not look to the knife as a weapon - as one of my customers once suggested, and I paraphrase here here: These things are heavy enough to kill a guest if thrown. She is correct - they weigh in nearly double the large tablespoon of, say, the equivalent set made in America by Gorham or Whiting - "Lily", which tablespoon is more closely in line size and weight-wise with the entremet spoon in French flatware.
Rare to find such an old set, complete and perfectly usable AND in the original box! Don't miss them!
Very good to excellent condition, age considered. As you can see, there is an age or drying split or two in a few wood handles. Some faint age or tarnish marks in the steel blades and one blade may be a replacement given that the marking is different from the rest. The box is in rough shape but, again, amazing that it's intact and usable at all. See pictures for all measurements.
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Antique French sterling silver, Georgian jewelry, sewing, Black Forest, etc 17th to 19th c. European
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