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Cutlery

The knife

The knife probably is the oldest piece of cutlery. It dates back to the Stone Age when man made knives from flint and bone.

For centuries, well into the Roman times, the knife was only used for carving or serving.

The use of the table knife evolved gradually.

In the Middle Ages knives had straight, sharp points as they were also used as a fork.

The spoon

The spoon also is a very old implement.

Early spoons were carved out of wood or bone. For thousands of years they were shaped with short, thick handles, which were designed to be grasped with the fist when
eating.

It was not until the late sixteenth century that the spoon handles became longer and flatter, assuming the shape still known today and designed to be held in balance between thumb, index and middle fingers.

The fork

Although forks existed in Antiquity, little is known about their early use and function.

During the Middle Ages two-pronged forks were used to hold the meat during carving.

Forks were first used for eating in the sixteenth century. During the eighteenth century they became commonly used utensils and their shape was already much the same as that of the forks used today with three or four curved prongs.

The tradition of setting a table complete with cutlery is a relatively recent one. In the Middle Ages, every guest brought along his own cutlery. It was worn on a chain around the neck or stuck into the belt or leg of the boot.

Cutlery became increasingly ornate during the Baroque period. Silver and gold decorations were used in combination with agate, mother-ofpearl and carved ivory.

During the nineteenth century more and more cutlery was mass-produced in factories. Fine handmade pieces became a rarity.

In spite of all mechanisation, the production of good table cutlery still demands a high degree of the skills associated with this craft.

Cutlery today

Prototypes of each piece of cutlery are made from the designers drawings.

From these samples engravers cut individual dies made from extremely hard steel for each shape of cutlery, working very precisely.

The cutlery pieces are then dropforged into these dies underintense pressure - up to 300 tons - without heat in order to give the pieces their final shape. Rosenthal cutlery is made from sterling silver, "Alpaka" (plated German silver) and special alloys; sometimes it is combined with porcelain or ceramic.

There are two basic procedures: spoons, forks and many other cutlery pieces are usually punched and stamped from cold - less often - from heated sterling silver-, Alpakaand stainless steel metal sheets. Knife blades and single rod knives on the other hand, are forged from red-hot stainless steel. These days Rosenthal uses two types of stainless steel alloy for its cutlery: chrome nickel steel and a special steel for knife blades and knives forged from a single rod.

Chrome nickel steel

Chrome nickel steel is identifiable by the marking 18/8 or 18/10. This tells us that the alloy contains eighteen percent chromium and 8-10 percent nickel. The nickel content increases the steel resistance to corrosion. However, since chrome nickel steel cannot be hardened, it is unsuitable for knife blades of such high quality stipulated for Rosenthal knives.

Forks and spoons are punched out of steel sheets and prepared for the die in several stages. A drop hammer with a falling weight of up to 300 tons moulds the blank into its final
shape.

"Chromargan" is the WMF trade name for chrome nickel steel).

Special steel for knives

Mono-block knives are forged all in one, handle and blade, from round steel bars. Rosenthal knives are made from a special chromium steel alloy with molybdenum and vanadium additives which make it possible to create extremely imaginative and complex shapes in varying thickness of the material, for example the knives of the "Curve", "Taille" and "Composition" series of cutlery.

This special alloy is resistant to corrosion and is also capable of hardening for long lasting sharpness. The knife blades should be sharpened periodically with a sharpening steel to retain their effectiveness.

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