5 Annotations

David Quidnunc  •  Link

FORKS: "effeminate" 17th century import

Most detailed site on fork history:
Large forks with two tines have been used since Ancient Greece to help in carving and serving meat. "An Englishman named Thomas Coryate brought the first forks back to England after seeing them in Italy during his travels in 1608." The French were already using them. At first, the English considered them effeminate.

"Small, slender-handled forks with two tines were generally used for sweet, sticky foods or for food (like mulberries) which was likely to stain the fingers. By the mid 1600s, eating with forks like those [pictured at the website] to the right was considered fashionable among wealthy British."

-- California Academy of Sciences
The fork "was introduced in England only in 1611 by Thomas Coryat through his book 'Coryat's Curdities Hastily gobbled up in Five Months Travels in France, Savoy, Italy, &c.'"
-- "History of the Fork" http://www.didyouknow.cd/forks.htm
"1611: Back in England [Coryat] is given the nickname 'Furcifer,' means 'fork bearer' but also 'gallows bird.' He is widely ridiculed and considered effeminate and affected."

"1630: Governor Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony [uncle of George Downing, Pepys's boss at the Exchequer in early 1660] possesses what is said to be the first and only fork in colonial America."

"Early 18th Century: ... In England ... forks still have two tines and are not so helpful for scooping up bites of food."

David Quidnunc  •  Link

SPOON History

Even in the Middle Ages, dinner hosts supplied guests with spoons, unlike the practice with knives. The Anglo-Saxon word "spon" means chip or splinter of wood. The Latin and Greek words for spoon derive from words for shell. By the 14th century, spoons were being made of tinned iron, brass, pewter, and other metals. Pewter was especially cheap and widely used.

The Romans had a spoon called a 'ligula' for soups and soft foods that looks surprisingly like a modern spoon (there's a picture of one at this web page).


David Quidnunc  •  Link


"Because hosts did not provide cutlery for their guests during the Middle Ages in Europe, most people carried their own knives [...] in sheaths attached to their belts." The knives served a dual purpose as tableware and weapons. Before forks gained popular acceptance, knives were used to cut and then spear food before bringing it to the lips. The points at the end of knives no longer had a definite purpose once forks became popular. In a precursor to gun control, King Louis XIV of France in 1669 banned all pointed knives on the street or the dinner table, and he had all knife points ground down.


Four German, six Dutch, one Swiss (NOT an army knife). Just pics.

Dave Bell  •  Link

A 17th Century Picnic

Photographs from the Kelmarsh Hall Festival of History showing a 17th Century picnic.

I can't be sure from the clothes of the date being recreated, but it's certainly in the latter half of the century. My guess in that it's after the diary period.

Photographed by my brother, whose Fotopages site has a huge number of pictures, mostly completely irrelevant to The Diary


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