Looking at a Fork

I have a thing for old stuff. I’ve always gravitated toward the antique and especially the quirky odd bits that seem to have a story buried at their core. I rescued a steamer trunk that my Great-Great-Grandfather used when he made the trip from Ireland to the USA. The trunk was abandoned in my Grandmother’s basement and as she was preparing to toss it, I laid claim at the age of 12. I’m surprised my parents allowed me to put it in the car! Other odd pieces include a book-end that I found covered in grease in the back of a body shop. It was so disgusting that my mother made me pick it up with a piece of newspaper. Under all that ick was a beautifully varnished chunk of a Redwood tree with the bark as an ornamental feature. Over the years I’ve found many strange treasures. I still have the trunk and the book-end thought there are other items that I’ve let go…

So I was rummaging through a bin at the local Goodwill store and found a really cool item. It is a fork. But not just a fork, because it has three prongs in steel with a wooden handle with pewter inlay. I’m pretty sure this was a child’s eating utensil from the Civil War era. It might have been carried by a soldier since it is more compact than a regular adult sized fork and the soldiers had to provide their own utensils up until 1870! I cleaned it up and took a couple photos. I compared it to my carving fork from the same era that has steel prongs and knife guard with wire windings around the wooden handle (which I’m pretty sure has been replaced at least once). And yes, I have used the meat carving fork! BTW these are not to scale as the top one is only as long as the wooden handle for the carving fork.

 

69 thoughts on “Looking at a Fork

  1. I bet you enjoy watching Antiques Roadshow! I never cared about old things when I was young, but it changed with age. I love it when I see things at the thrift shop that mom and dad used in their cooking or at home. I love older homes with a big front porch. I want to find an old child’s bike to use as decoration on top of the kitchen cabinets. And I will always keep and cherish the items I do have from mom and dad…from dad’s beautiful rosemaling on wood to mom’s small pieces of china. It’s all very special to me.

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    1. I have my great grandmother’s decorative runners – painted on velvet that she had on her china hutch, buffet, and dining room table. Of course they are not in use as they are so old and too beautiful to endure everyday exposure to the dust and such. If I ever host foreign dignitaries they will be displayed. To others they might be kitschy but they have great value to me…

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        1. That is so very sad Bonnie! My MIL has been giving away things to family and has also started gifting things to people she likes. She saves newspapers for the Humane Society and a woman comes to pick them up once a month – she has gifted her with some old towels and some sundae dishes and parfait glasses. Slowly she is clearing out things she doesn’t use anymore…

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  2. I’ve had to let go of a lot of things when I have been homeless (with family, small bedroom). I learned a lot about it all being “stuff” back then. I’m thrilled that you’ve been able to keep heirlooms, though!

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    1. Dodi they are all just things that although I have emotional attachment eventually I’ll sell, give away or toss… It is the people in my life that are most important! The things that were my great grandmother’s, grandmother’s and my mother’s give me a sense of connection to who I am in the wider scheme of my family…

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      1. I know what you mean about the connections! For a church musical, we had an older gent playing a role of a business owner in Victorian times. He actually had a silk top hat that was handed down from his Great Grandfather to wear in the musical! It was amazing to see the label in the hat, and the wonderful condition it was in. It was “bespoke” and he grinned at saying that at least his head was no bigger or swollen than his ancestor’s was, chuckle.

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        1. Very cool! Way back most hats were custom made for both men and women! That it was in such good condition indicates that it has been held in esteem by all the generations… Hehe! I think head size is genetic!

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  3. Oh I am so with you on this, I too am drawn to old even ancient items, love the history, especially common day things. I also have a collection of old cutlery but nothing as old as you – I don’t think! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  4. I used to do that too.. Look for odd things and old things. I got a lot of them, and realized eventually that my house had shrunk and I didn’t have enough space to keep these old things.
    Neat story Val.

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  5. That’s quite an interesting find! I love to look at thrift shops, but there’s not room for one thing more in my apartment (and I have a full storage room too) (K)

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  6. Haha yes. I have this heirloom (an Indian traditional game) which has come down 5 generations of daughters…with the original cowrie shells . That one speaks…and how ! Thanks for writing about this!

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  7. One of my favorite finds is a clever spatula that becomes three when a lever, on the handle, is pulled. It is quite ingeniously designed in that the two “wing” spatulas nest under the middle one and they are of gradient lengths so that the top one can be used like a normal single spatula when the full fan effect isn’t needed. It too has a wooden handle. I think wooden handles fell out of use when dishwashers became popular.

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    1. Hehe! I’ve seen those spatulas! I’ve always passed them up because I already have 6 or 7 spatulas! I’ll have to keep an eye out now – maybe pick one up and give it a try. Who knows I may ditch several of mine in favor of the 3-in-1! I think you are right about the dishwashers. They destroy wooden handles!

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  8. These look fabulous. I too like to look into antiques. They have this attraction of lost stories. Intriguing pieces of artwork. The wood used here looks exquisite and sturdy. Craftsmanship is brilliant.

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    1. My trunk was from the 1800s – probably 1890ish – so no record player. He married my Great Grandmother in 1900… So it is quite old and now that it has been cleaned and used, it is in good shape for its age!

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  9. We once had a driftwood coffee table, attached to its base by a thick wooden dowel. After nine years, the dowel broke and it would have been hard to replace. I took the table to Goodwill, where a Navajo lady said she’d take it to the Reservation and use it for firewood. I reminded her that lacquer is toxic and would at the very least gum up her wood stove.

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