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Author Topic:   An Unusual Fork-Why? Who? When?
Brent

Posts: 1502
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 11-30-2006 06:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brent     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Hello,

Sorry for my long absence from action! Here is a puzzler for everyone. This fork by W.L. & H.E. Pitkin of Hartford, CT, is a pretty standard bright-cut "Antique" pattern tea or luncheon fork. However, the space between two of the tines is partly filled in, and the edge of the outside tine is slightly beveled. Now, there are three-tine pie or dessert forks with a single large cutting tine on the left side; more common is silverplate for some reason, but perfectly legitimate. My guess is that this was an attempt by the maker to create a dessert-style fork by simply modifying a plain luncheon fork. On the other hand, it could just be the result of an owner fooling around with one of his own forks. What do you think? A commercial product by a small-time maker, or a "home-made" item? The Pitkins did run a successful manufacturing concern, so they could well have made such a thing.

Has anyone seen anything similar?

Brent

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jersey

Posts: 1203
Registered: Feb 2005

iconnumber posted 11-30-2006 08:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jersey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi Brent!
Glad you're back.
Just a wild guess, but maybe the mold form didn't come away from the tine.?
Jersey

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Dale

Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 11-30-2006 10:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If you only have one, I'd guess a pickle fork. If more than one, some sort of pastry fork. Does the silver between the tines appear to be integral or a later addition?

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swarter
Moderator

Posts: 2920
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 12-01-2006 01:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When first I saw this, my thought was that it was a careless workman's mistake, failing to clear the silver from between the times, but then realized that the tine on that side is thicker than the others, so it is clearly reinforced to resist sidewise pressure, and so must be intended for cutting something.

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tmockait

Posts: 963
Registered: Jul 2004

iconnumber posted 12-01-2006 01:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tmockait     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree with the theory that they were trying to make a pastry fork by modifying a regular fork mold.

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FredZ

Posts: 1069
Registered: Jun 99

iconnumber posted 12-01-2006 02:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FredZ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think I see sharpened edge on the webbed side and the tine appears to be wider as well. I agree that this was a pastry or perhaps used for fish. Interesting that we have not seen others like this.

Fred

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Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 11377
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 12-01-2006 02:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Fredz,

I'm glad you are here ......

Please let us know what you think.

Was this fork, struck, molded or.....

Also in the photo, it sort of looks like in the "closed" tine there is a soldered edge. What do you think?

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argentum1

Posts: 602
Registered: Apr 2004

iconnumber posted 12-01-2006 05:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for argentum1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The factory images appear to show a circular die that stamps out flatware. Also seen are hydraulic stamping mills. So, to say an item is moulded(if your European) molded(if your American) would be incorrect. Drop presses began to be used somewhere around 1790 in Europe and perhaps a bit later in the U.S. Pewter flatware used to be cast in bronze two part molds. The release agent was to soot both sides of the mold.

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FWG

Posts: 845
Registered: Aug 2005

iconnumber posted 12-02-2006 10:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for FWG     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I really can't tell from the photos whether the insert is soldered in or part of the stamping -- which is the crucial question -- but I suspect the former. It looks to me like the larger tine has been forged out to make it a bit wider and give it more of an edge (compare the curves on the two sides, and the asymmetrical placement of the handle). If this were done it would also make that tine a bit thinner, and thus likely to need some reinforcement if it was to be used as a cutting tine.

Conjectural scenario: a customer comes in with a set of forks and asks that they be converted to pastry forks (or with one to be converted to a pickle fork, or for the convenience of a one-handed person, or whatever this piece might have been intended for). It would be a relatively simple matter to forge that tine out a bit and add in the silver reinforcement. The customer might have been changing their dinner pattern and recycling the forks for luncheon use, or perhaps such a fork was not available in that pattern.

The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of an adaptation for a one-handed person -- so that their fork would match the rest of the table, but they could easily with one hand cut and eat. Has anyone ever seen/heard of this being done?

Note that this change would not necessarily have to have been done by the Pitkins; they might be just the original makers of the fork. The modification could have been done by anyone, at any later date.

[This message has been edited by FWG (edited 12-02-2006).]

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FredZ

Posts: 1069
Registered: Jun 99

iconnumber posted 12-02-2006 11:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for FredZ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The web between the tines could easily have been intentional and created during manufacture. If this were a custon job they probably would have filled in the entire space between the times and filed the edge to a bevel. forging would have bent the tine even with the web soldered in place. I do not think this is a custom item. Physical examination could prove me wrong.

Fred

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Dale

Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 12-02-2006 04:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Modifying a die would have been an expensive proposition. This would involve filling down the area between the tines on both dies. And it would I suspect mean that the dies could not be used again for regular forks. Which is why I suspect that the space in filled in. If we could find a great many forks like this, then the modified die makes sense. Until then I vote for a later modification of an existing fork. Can't see spending so much for one fork.

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Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 11377
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 12-03-2006 11:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
from bascall posted 12-03-2006 12:46 AM in the New Members' Forum
quote:
This is a comment on a topic originally posted by Brent on the American Sterling Forum about "An Unusual Fork-Why? Who? When?" I've seen forks similar to this one during my eight and a half years in the old U K. I always thought they were for cake or dessert. The two tines made into one looked much more intentional on the British forks though

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