Personal Effects Mango Forks January 2015
Question: Jerry, what kind of fork is this? Its mother of pearl with a sterling band. Both are marked Henckels near the tines. I've had them for over twenty years. I've been curious about them all this time. What are they worth? Thanks for looking at them. I enjoy the articles.
|Two Mother of Pearl handled mango forks.|
Answer: I had to do a little digging on this one. I've always had an appreciation for silver flatware, but this one had me stumped. Finally, I found out what it was. Leave it to those persnickety Victorians to create something like this. You have, of all things, a mango fork. Cool isn't it? This was a fork that was designed for wealthy patrons, for a fruit that only the wealthy could afford. Let me tell you, this fork, its history and its manufacture is elusive. I could find very little on it... at first. If Replacements.com doesn't have, one single listing for a mango fork, then its hard to find. I did find a few, on other sites, that were obviously modern and fairly cheap. Nothing like these beautiful pieces. There was one interesting posting, on an antique forum page, that helped shed some light on these unique pieces. I found that many, many times, these forks are mislabeled as cake forks, snail forks, lobster picks, olive forks and chicken forks. I have no idea what a chicken fork is. However, they are all wrong, as I've already stated, this is a mango fork. Here's how it worked. A fruit knife was used to cut off the top of the mango, about an inch, you should just see the tip of the mango pit. The fork was held firmly in ones hand and driven into the top of the mango. You should pierce the mango pit, in that “joint” or ridge that goes around the pit. The central long tine went into the pit and the two shorter tines were anchored into the flesh of the fruit. Now stand your mango up on its end, holding the fork firmly in your hand. Picking up your fruit knife you scored the thick skin and peeled back that skin, revealing its orange meat. Still holding the fork upright, use your knife to slice off slabs and transfer those pieces to your dessert plate. Then you would use your fruit fork and fruit knife to consume your hard earned mango. Sounds complicated doesn't it? I think Carson the butler from Downton Abbey would have trouble with this one There was a reason to this madness. It separated the well to do folks from the down trodden. If you couldn't pass table etiquette, then it was likely that you'd not fare well in proper society and you would be shunned. I'm going to say that your mango forks date to the later 1890's to the early 1900's. This was a grand time for formal dining. Your forks were made by the J. A. Henckels Manufacturing Company in Germany. They are a well known blade and table ware power house and their knives can still be found in fine stores. I saw some all sterling mango forks and many modern versions in stainless steel. Yours are extra special with the pearl and sterling ferrels / bands I love the mother of pearl handles. You don't find this thickness of mother of pearl anymore. Value? In at a good antiques show I'd expect to see them priced at $50.00 to $60.00 each. Congratulations on owning the only mango forks I might see in my career. Maybe you should try your hand at using them at your next dinner party. Or maybe not. Thanks for sharing them with us.