Type of object
Technique and material

Wood, metal

From 1410 to 1490
1.5 x 15.5 cm

In the 15th century, knives such as the one shown here were not part of table settings. Guests brought their own knives, which they wore on belts and did not put on the table. Once seated, guests used their fingers to take food from a large communal platter. They then placed this food in a bowl or on a carving board that they usually shared with their neighbour. Only then did they use their own knives to cut off pieces.

At that time knives were still very pointed and their blades extremely sharp. In the 17th century, table culture became more sophisticated, and knives more diverse. For instance, there were pointed knives for meat, thin-bladed knives for fish, and thick short ones for oysters. Knives used as tableware were rounded and sometimes crafted into beautiful works of art by goldsmiths and enamellists.