The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Serving knife
  • Serving knife
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Königsberg, Germany
  • c. 1600
  • Iron or steel, amber, ivory and gold, gilded and etched
  • Length: 42 cm, blade
    Width: 7.6 cm, at shoulder
    Width: 10.5 cm, widest part
    Weight: 0.475 kg
  • Maker's mark: Cutler's mark
  • A890
  • European Armoury I
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Serving Knife (présentoir), the amber and ivory handle of octagonal section widens towards the pommel; the latter is also of ivory and amber; within the translucent amber are three circular ivory carvings enriched with gilding, representing the adoration of the Magi and other subjects; the grip, also of amber, is similarly underset with two ivory carvings (A female saint or mythological character and St. Anne bearing the Cross), and encircled with two narrow bands of ivory inlaid with amber spots. The gilt tang of the blade and the backs of the inset carvings, etched with dots and curved lines, are visible beneath the amber. The broad, flat, symmetrical blade, widening towards the end, is enriched with three trident-shaped bands of arabesques etched and gilt. It bears a cutler's mark on one side.

    German (Konigsberg) about 1600.

    See A. Rohde, Bernstein, ein deutscher Werkstoff, 1937, figs. 32-40; and

    Blair, 1974, no. 119.

    Provenance: D. A. Kuhn (?) (un présentoir du XVIe siècle, 600 fr.; receipted bill, 28 February, 1867, this bill may refer to the présentoir, A889); Comte de Nieuwerkerke.

    A similar example from Duff House is in the Banff Museum and dated 1618 (C. R. Beard, Trans. Banffshire Field Club, 1910-11). Another was in the possession of Lord Londesborough, and came from the Debruge-Dumesnel Collection (Fairholt, Misc. Graphica, 1857, pl. XVIII). J. F. Hayward compares the Wallace Collection example with a single-serving knife, also with amber handle, in the collection of Mr. Howard E. Smith (The Connoisseur, CXXXIV, November, 1954, p. 165). There is also a complete table set in the same style in the Hofjagd- und Rüstkammer, Vienna (inv. no. D 207).

    The contemporary name for this type of knife is a slice or a voiding knife. It was used in conjunction with a dish called a voider for clearing crumbs from the table cloth (C. Blair, personal communication, 1968).