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Utensils - Place settings that included a fork, knife, and spoon were a relatively new phenomenon in the 1740s. Until the middle of the 17th century, people tended to carry their own cutlery, or use their hands to eat whatever food was served to them.  In the 18th century, however, eating habits increasingly became an indicator of class, and people of means were expected to provide tableware to guests. Complicated rules developed for using an escalating number of eating tools for each particular meal course. This became a cultural barrier that reinforced rigid class distinctions and impeded upward mobility. The knowledge of how to properly use a fork, knife, and spoon was therefore one of the many ways the English gentility set themselves apart., Photo images of a iron knife and bone handle:Iron Knife and Bone Handle, Date: ca. 1670-1770, Site Name: Angelica Knoll, Site Number:18CV60/1 - This iron knife and bone handle come from the same archaeological site, but the two pieces may not have belonged to the same knife. The tapered cylinder shape of the bone handle was most popular in the second half of the 17th century and early 18th century, while the knife blade, with its rounded end, curved back, and slight hump on the curve, is known as a “scimitar” shape that was popular in the first half of the 18th century. The two forms enjoyed some overlap, however, and they are relatively complete, so they can illustrate what a whole bone-handled knife could have looked like.  Of particular interest is that the base of the bone handle has inscribed initials *I*R*E, with the letter I atop the R and E (close-up photo image of this bone handle base shown to left of paragraph). In the 18th century, the letter “J” was written like the capital “I” is today. The handle comes from the Angelica Knoll site, which was first occupied by Richard and Elizabeth Johns at some point between 1677 and 1717. The use of initials to personalize objects was very popular in the 17th and 18th centuries, and the combination of the married couple’s initials is particularly symbolic of their shared household. It is possible that Richard and Elizabeth Johns ordered the personalized cutlery, but knives were also a traditional wedding gift, so this handle could represent a thoughtful present from friends or family., Photo image of a tin-plated spoon:Tin-Plated Spoon, Date: ca. 1660-1700, Site Name: Patuxent Point , Site Number:18CV271/83 - This plain spoon, with the end of the handle looking as if it was cut off at an angle, is known as a slip-top spoon, and the style was most popular from the late 1500s until about 1660. It would have been terribly outdated by the 1740s era depicted in the Outlander series, but that does not mean such spoons were no longer in use. This spoon is made of a metal known as latten, which is an alloy of copper and zinc, and it has tin plating. The material is durable, but it isn’t particularly valuable, so while it might have made sense for people to melt down silver spoons to be remade in updated styles, this latten spoon could have just lingered as an old but functional utensil.  When this spoon was made, people tended to carry utensils on them when traveling. Not everyone had full sets of tableware to offer guests, so individuals kept their own knives and spoons handy. While a knife was typically carried in some kind of sheath, the spoon could be carried in a bag or pocket, or even tucked into the band a of a hat, which is sometimes shown in period artwork., Photo images of an iron fork and an ivory utensil handle:Iron Fork, Date: ca. 1670-1770, Site Name: Angelica Knoll, Site Number:18CV60/1; Ivory Utensil Handle, Date: ca. 1720-1750, Site Name: Oxon Hill Manor, Site Number:18PR175/2326 -  The table fork was adopted by English culture  in the 17th century, and it coincided with a shift in how people ate. Prior to the adoption of the fork, things like meat and cheese could be cut with knives and then either eaten by hand or skewered with the knife for delivery to the mouth. The adoption of the fork to hold food in place while cutting coincided with a shift in knife shapes; flat or rounded blade tips replaced pointed ones. Knives were not used for skewering food, and eventually forks took on this role. This two-tined fork and ivory utensil handle are made in styles that are typical of the first half of the 18th century., A 1792  print showing forks and knives, caption reads:The forks and knives depicted in this 1792 print, A Voluptuary Under the Horrors of Digestion, are typical of the 18th century, though the artist’s intent is not necessarily to illustrate period table wares.  The print, by James Gillray, is a satirical attack on the excessively self-indulgent lifestyle of the Prince of Wales, and the cutlery is included as a symbol of gluttony.  ©Trustees of the British Museum, Image of a 1568 painting showing several people carrying their own utensils, caption reads:This detail of the c. 1568 painting Peasant Dance, by Pieter Brueghel the Elder, shows men carrying their own utensils. The dancer in the foreground has a spoon tucked into his hat, while the man in the red breeches has a sheathed knife hanging from his belt - Image via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pieter_Bruegel_d._%C3%84._014.jpg).