S327: Combined spoon, fork and pen
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© The Holburne Museum of Art, Bath
|Title||Combined spoon, fork and pen|
|Object type||In category: Metalwork » Flatware » Spoon » Early spoon (pre 1700) » Combination spoon/fork|
Hillebrandt, Friedrich (1555-1608) (known) - Gold/silversmith(s)
|Place of origin||Europe » Northern Europe » Germany » Nuremberg|
18.0 cm length
|Materials & techniques||
Folding combined spoon, fork and pen. Detachable rounded oval spoon bowl, the back with an applied figure of a demi-angel behind which the two-pronged fork fits. The fork prongs are decorated at the junction with stem with a cherub's head in front and a female figure which forms a finial to St Michael's canopy at the back. The stem is octagonal and hinged towards the prongs. The handle has an applied group of St George and the dragon. The openwork spherical finial is surmounted by a kneeling figure of a princess with a dog/lamb at her side. This unscrews to reveal a pen contained within the handle.
|Marks and inscriptions||
This extraordinary object combines a folding fork, spoon and pen. In the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, most people carried their own personal sets of cutlery with them for fear of contagion. However, the elaborate decoration of this combined fork and spoon suggests that it was made as a status object for admiration rather than practical use. It would originally have also contained tooth and ear picks and would have had a leather carrying case. The stem and finial are decorated with miniature figures of St George and the Dragon and the princess. It is one of a small number of similarly decorated folding spoons and forks. Most are in the treasuries formed by European princes and collectors. Several – like this one- bear the sponsor's mark of Freidrich Hillebrandt. Hillebrandt was a leading Nuremberg goldsmith who supplied luxury objects to some of Europe's wealthiest patrons.
Forks were extremely rare in northern Europe during the sixteenth century. They were seen as an Italian affectation. This two-pronged example was intended to skewer sugary sweetmeats at the end of the meal. Conventional forks, like matching sets of table cutlery only became fashionable in northern Europe later in the seventeenth century.
Sir William Holburne believed this object had belonged to Charles I. However, it it not known why he thought this.
|Muse theme||The Art of Collecting
The History of the Holburne Collection » The Collection » Silver
|Method of acquisition||Bequest|
|Provenance||Sir T. W. Holburne (1793-1874); by whom bequeathed to Mary Anne Barbara Holburne (1802-1882); by whom bequeathed to the Museum|