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Vintage Silverplate & Ivorine Tea Knives - Set of 6

Vintage Silverplate & Ivorine Tea Knives - Set of 6

$125.00

Found at market in England, we are taken with the understated charms of this wonderful set of tea knives. Originally intended for use during afternoon tea (think crustless egg and water cress sandwiches and buttery scones warm from the oven!) this beautiful set is also ideal for appetizers, salads, a cheese course, desserts, even breakfast or brunch - any time the proportions of a dinner knife are too large for the course or meal being served.

Produced by the esteemed Sheffield silver company of Walker & Hall, the knives have elegant handles in ivorine and are finished with hallmarked sterling silver ferrules that indicate the year of manufacture: 1954. No matter what time of the day, or how you use them, this handsome set of tea knives will bring their timeless vintage style to your table. 


Strictly one-of-a-kind and subject to prior sale. In very good antique condition. Box measures 8.75" x 6.5", Knives measure 7.5" in length.

Learn More About Afternoon Tea

It’s the seventh Duchess of Bedford, Anna Maria Russell, who we have to thank for the invention of afternoon tea, sometime around 1840. Due to increasing urbanisation and the rise in industrialisation (including the spread of gas lighting in England), the evening meal was becoming later and later. Whereas in rural farming communities the day had an early start and finished when the sun went down, wealthier classes, unhindered by such practicalities, were now having dinner closer to 9pm – with lunch many hours earlier at midday.

The Duchess of Bedford, who was one of Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting, was having none of it. Describing a ‘sinking feeling’ at about 5pm, she became despondent at the void between lunch and dinner. She requested that some tea, bread and butter and cake was brought to her room in the late afternoon – and with that one request of a lady’s grumbling stomach, an afternoon ritual was born. Needing very little prompting to find an occasion to squeeze in another cup of tea and a piece of cake, the upper classes ate it up and the custom soon spread across Britain. Before long all of fashionable society was sipping tea and nibbling sandwiches in the middle of the afternoon.

Traditionally, the upper classes would serve an afternoon or "low" tea around four o'clock, just before the fashionable promenade in Hyde Park. The middle and lower classes would have a more substantial "high" tea later in the day, at five or six o'clock, in place of a late dinner. The names high or low derive from the height of the tables on which the meals are served, high tea being served at the dinner table and low tea being served in the drawing room or parlor with comfortable arm chairs and smaller (lower) side tables. 

*History of Afternoon Tea adapted from "The tea-rific history of Victorian afternoon tea" courtesy of The British Museum blog.

Learn More About Ivorine

Ivorine is a name often given to celluloid. Celluloid was invented in 1862 and is generally regarded to be the first thermoplastic. It was useful for creating less costly jewellery, jewellery boxes, hair accessories and many items that would earlier have been manufactured from ivory, horn or other expensive animal products. It was often referred to as "Ivorine" or "French Ivory". It was also used for dressing table sets, dolls, picture frames, charms, hat pins, buttons, buckles, stringed instrument parts, fountain pens, cutlery handles and kitchen items.

Vintage and antique items made in celluloid are collectible today and increasingly rare in good condition. Celluloid is still used today for the production of table tennis balls and guitar picks.

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