On display in the 1799 kitchen at the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum.

These remarkable survivals from the eighteenth century are one way of indicating the wealth of the Porter and Phelps families. Charles and Elizabeth Phelps owned this knife and fork, part of a set of three. They possibly inherited them from Elizabeth’s father, Moses Porter, because his inventory lists a set of three knives and forks. The pieces certainly date from that period. They were made in London between 1750-1775 by the London Cutler’s Company, and are constructed from steel and horn. Moses’s large cutlery set, including silver spoons valued at ₤5.4.0, set the Porters, and subsequently the Phelpses, apart from their Connecticut Valley neighbors. Over time most cutlery sets were continually resharpened, meaning that there are relatively few eighteenth-century survivals, highlighting the significance of these two objects that are often overlooked or deemed relatively unimportant.


Sources:

  • The Great River: Art & Society of the Connecticut River Valley, 1635-1820. (Hartford: Meridan-Stinehour Press, 1985).