When were knives, forks, and spoons first used?

While knives have been used as tools, weapons, and even to help in food preparation-to carve up large pieces of meat, for example-it wasn't until the Middle Ages (a period ranging from roughly a.d. 500 to around 1500) that people began regularly using knives to get food from their plates to their mouths.

 Since forks weren't in use yet, people in that era used knives with narrow blades and pointed ends to spear their food and then eat it.
 
 

 (Historians have pointed out that these weaponlike utensils gave the dinner hour the potential for serious violence.) 

In the late 1600s table knives became blunter and wider, a shape that made them more useful in catching the food that sometimes fell off forks and spoons. 




 table manners utensils














People have been using spoons for centuries, and these helpful scoopers were probably among the first eating tools developed by early humans.
 
 In prehistoric times spoons were made of curved pieces of shells or wood. 

f wood for spoons



Curved ornate wooden spoon
 shells as spoons

During the Middle Ages royal and wealthy citizens used spoons made of precious metals like gold and silver; 


common folks had to make do with tin or pewter spoons. 


 As eating instruments, forks are the latecomers in the utensil world. 
 


 
While the ancient Greeks used two-tined forks to stabilize food they were carving and serving, and table forks were used by the wealthy in the Middle East and other countries in what is now Eastern Europe,

 In the 11th Century the Venetian Doge, Domenico Selvo, married a Greek princess who brought the practice of eating with forks to his court. This was regarded as a scandalous and heretical affectation, and when she died shortly after it is perceived as a divine punishment.
 You will note the mention is of two prongs - forks looked more like mini pitchforks in the mediaeval period and thus had associations with the devil.
  A disapproving chronicler tells us:  ‘She did not touch the food with her hands but had each dish cut into tiny pieces by her eunuchs, which she then advanced to her mouth using a sort of miniature golden spear with two prongs, and barely tasted.’ The Princess later died of a wasting disease and ecclesiast San Pier Damiani (1007-1072) thought this a just punishment for such a sin.

 

 the concept of table forks did not become widespread in Western Europe until the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. At first, people didn't understand the need for a fork-they had spoons and knives and, of course, their hands, to pick up food. 

 In 1533, forks were brought from Italy to France when Catherine de Medici married the future King Henry II.
 
Catherine de Medici pictured right (April 131519 – January 51589), born in Italy as Caterina Maria Romola di Lorenzo de’ Medici, and later lived in France under the name Catherine de M├ędicis, was Queen of France as the wife of King Henry II of France, of the Valois branch of the kings of France, and mother of three kings of that branch.

The French, too, were slow to accept forks, like the Italians, using them was thought to be an affectation.


 A century after Theodora's castigation, Pope Innocent III 

 
railed against people who set out elaborate tables when th
ey dined. He accused them of vanity for adorning their tables with ‘decorated tablecloths, knives with  handles of ivory, golden drinking vessels, silver platters, with cups and beakers, bowls and basins, with soup plates and spoons, with forks and salt shakers etc. Basically he said what was the point.  You couldn't take any of it with you when you died and it wasn't going to promote your path to heaven.

But forks came to be popular symbols of social status among the wealthy, and eventually the general population came to accept their use as well.

In 1560, according to a French manners book, different customs evolved in different European countries. For eating soup, Germans are known for using spoons, Italians are known for using forks (presumably the fork assists in eating solid ingredients and the remaining liquid is drunk out of the bowl as it was in the Middle Ages). The Germans and Italians provide a knife for each diner, while the French provide only two or three communal knives for the whole table.
An Englishman named Thomas Coryate brought the first forks to England around 1611 after seeing them in Italy during his travels in 1608.
The English ridiculed forks as being effeminate and unnecessary. Coryate was mocked for promoting the use of forks and called “Furcifer,” meaning fork-bearer.
 Many British clergymen were vehemently opposed to forks; they believed that only human fingers were worthy of touching God’s food. Often, when someone died after having used a fork, these clergymen preached that it was God’s way of showing His displeasure over the use of such a shocking novelty.
 Small, slender-handled forks with two tines were generally used for sweet, sticky foods or for foods such as berries which were likely to stain the fingers. By the mid 1600s, eating with forks was considered fashionable among wealthy British. Forks used solely for dining were luxuries and thus markers of social status and sophistication among nobles.  The upper classes of Spain were also using forks in the 16th Century.

 

 From the 17th century onwards, the fork gradually advanced as an eating tool, but even as the fashion grew, there was still a notion that they weren't for 'real men' and a bit suspect. By the 18thC  forks had become mostly respectable.

 

 

Small Brass hors d’oeuvre Canape Pickle Berry etc Two Tine Forks

 

 As forks become more common implements at the table in the early 17th century and were used for holding food steady while cutting and for conveying the food to the mouth, it is less necessary for knives to be made with pointed tips. They begin to be made blunt at the end.

In late 17th Century France, larger forks with four curved tines 
 

were developed. The additional tines made diners less likely to drop food, and the curved tines served as a scoop so people did not have to constantly switch to a spoon while eating. 

By the early 19th Century, multi-tined forks had also been developed in Germany and England and slowly began to spread to America.


In 1630, Governor Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony
 
 had the first and only fork in colonial America.

 
In the early 18th century, the four-tined fork has become the rule in Germany. In England, however, forks still have two tines and are not so helpful for scooping up bites of food.

In Europe at the mid-18th century, the fork has achieved the form which is now most familiar, four curved tines.

By the beginning of the 19th Century, additional tines were being added to forks in Europe, and the use of forks is starting to become popular in the United States. They are sometimes called “split spoons.”

During Victorian Years specialized utensils proliferated in the West, more in response to the Victorian fondness for bric-a-brac than to any real need. Tomato servers, sardine forks, jelly knives, and cheese scoops are among the many elaborations in silverware.


 Sardine Fork

 Tomato Server





 Large Solid Soup Ladle in the Hanover (sterling, 1895, No Monograms) pattern by Gorham Silver Large Solid Soup Ladle in the Hanover (sterling, 1895,) 

 Individual Salad Fork in the Hanover (sterling, 1895, No Monograms) pattern by Gorham Silver Individual Salad Fork 


 Old French Hollow Knife in the Hanover (sterling, 1895, No Monograms) pattern by Gorham Silver Old French Hollow Knife in the Hanover (sterling, 1895, )



 Demitasse Spoon in the Hanover (sterling, 1895, No Monograms) pattern by Gorham Silver Demitasse Spoon in the Hanover (sterling, 1895,) 

 Old Style Pickle Fork in the Hanover (sterling, 1895, No Monograms) pattern by Gorham Silver Old Style Pickle Fork 

 Solid Youth Tea Fork in the Hanover (sterling, 1895, No Monograms) pattern by Gorham Silver Solid Youth Tea Fork


 Knife-Fish/serving-Solid/large in the Hanover (sterling, 1895, No Monograms) pattern by Gorham Silver Knife-Fish/serving-Solid/large in the Hanover (sterling, 1895)



Large Solid Tined Sardine Serving Fork in the Hanover (sterling, 1895, No Monograms) pattern by Gorham Silver Large Solid Tined Sardine Serving Fork in the Hanover (sterling, 1895,)  


 Solid Blanc Mange Serving Spoon in the Hanover (sterling, 1895, No Monograms) pattern by Gorham Silver Solid Blanc Mange Serving Spoon in the Hanover (sterling, 1895)


 Master Salt Spoon in the Hanover (sterling, 1895, No Monograms) pattern by Gorham Silver Master Salt Spoon in the Hanover (sterling, 1895, )


 Round Bowl Soup Spoon (gumbo) in the Hanover (sterling, 1895, No Monograms) pattern by Gorham Silver Round Bowl Soup Spoon (gumbo) in the Hanover (sterling, 1895)


 Bon Bon Scoop in the Hanover (sterling, 1895, No Monograms) pattern by Gorham Silver Bon Bon Scoop


 Ice Serving Spoon Large in the Hanover (sterling, 1895, No Monograms) pattern by Gorham Silver Ice Serving Spoon Large in the Hanover (sterling, 1895)


 Medium Chipped Beef Fork in the Hanover (sterling, 1895, No Monograms) pattern by Gorham Silver Medium Chipped Beef Fork in the Hanover (sterling, 1895)




Cheese Scoop

 Clover Jelly Cake Server

 

 
  FLAT SERVERS

 
  Berry, Preserve, Jelly, Sugar, & a Tablespoon in front.



NAPKINS

Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans used “serviettes,” napkins the size of bath towels.
In the 1700s it was acceptable at the table to use the serviette to also wipe off all utensils, as well as greasy fingers and lips.
Maybe someone got tired of washing all those huge serviettes, since people were encouraged to first wipe their fingers on a hunk of bread.
As the use of forks rather than fingers become popular the less large napkins were needed, and they became smaller.
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Another kind of utensil-chopsticks-came into being around 5,000 years ago in China. Historians believe chopsticks evolved from twigs people used to grab pieces of food out of large cooking pots.
 
 Over time, these twigs were carved into sticks that worked well when picking up small pieces of food. By a.d. 500, chopsticks had spread to other Asian countries, with some differences among them in style and size. 
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 INDIA 
STILL  ALL EAT WITH RIGHT HANDS ,EXCEPT SPOONS SOMETIMES  AND  RARELY KNIVES