Question: How many different sizes of forks are there in a single sterling flatware pattern?
Answer: Possibly several!
Maybe something like this has happened to you. On eBay, you find a listing that says “Gorham Buttercup Dinner Fork”. You have some Buttercup dinner forks that are 7.5 inches long and you need one more so you buy this one on eBay. It arrives and you discover that it’s only 7 inches long. What a pain!
The problem here is that many people, probably most, do not understand the correct nomenclature for the various sizes of pieces. What this seller was advertising is commonly called a luncheon fork or a dessert fork.
Whenever we buy pieces, we always verify the length and width with the seller to make sure we know what we are buying. In this article, we’ll discuss some examples using Gorham patterns since Gorham has so many different possibilities within a given pattern.
In the first photo, you see three Gorham Buttercup forks. The one on the bottom is 7 inches long and commonly is called a luncheon fork today. When the Buttercup pattern first came out, a very similar fork was called a dessert fork.
The top fork is 7.5 inches long and commonly is called a dinner fork. It is about 1 inch wide at its widest point.
For a long time, these two forks were the primary place setting possibilities in the Buttercup pattern. Somewhere along the way, Gorham added the middle fork to the line. It’s called a place fork and it also is 7.5 inches long but it is only about 7/8 inch wide at its widest point. It does not quite have the hefty feel of the dinner fork. We think the place fork is a compromise to serve as both a dinner and a luncheon fork. In several Gorham patterns, the place size pieces are imprinted with the letter, “P”, inside a diamond shape.
Knives also come in different lengths. In the second photo, you see three knives in the Gorham Chantilly pattern. The knife on top is about 8 7/8 inches long and is commonly called a luncheon knife.
The bottom knife is commonly called a dinner knife and is about 9.5 inches long. The middle knife is a place knife (with the “P” inside a diamond shape) and is about 9.25 inches long. By the way, these knives all have a “modern” shape blade. There are other blade shapes available, such as a French blade, but we’ll save that discussion for another article.
The third photo illustrates Buttercup salad forks. The bottom salad fork is a “regular” size, about 6 3/8 inches long. The top fork is a place size (with the “P” inside a diamond shape), about 6 7/8 inches long. Not every Gorham pattern has a place-size salad fork. For example, we’ve never seen a Chantilly place-size salad fork.
Not all patterns out there have so many choices but most have at least two lengths of forks and knives.
Please understand we have not covered every nuance related to size. For example, in the Buttercup pattern, at least two different dinner forks have been manufactured over the years. They are all 7.5 inches long but they have different length tines. Also, the older Buttercup dessert fork we mentioned earlier is only about 6 7/8 inches (not 7 inches). So, when you are buying pieces to add to an existing set, it is very important to understand the details about overall length, tine length and width. If you’re not sure what you’re buying, discuss the details with your seller.
If you are in the process of selecting a new pattern, you might consider the “place” size (if your pattern is by Gorham) because of its compromise size.
Feel free to send us an email if you have questions.