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Cutlery Definitions
and Related History




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Definitions for cutlery, cutler, knife, flatware, tableware, metalwork, metallurgy, alloy, kitchen knives, Solingen, Sheffield, Toledo, Seki, Damascus, U.S.A. cutlery, Collecting, Rostfrei

Cutlery, in general usage, term applied collectively to all types of cutting instruments.

Cutlery various types of implements for cutting, preparing, and eating food. In addition to different kinds of knives and the steels to sharpen them, the term usually encompasses forks and spoons.

The history of cutlery probably begins with the shell and the sharp flint used for cutting. The primitive craft of chipping flint began by improving naturally sharp edges, e.g., the chipped flint knives of the Neolithic period. Knives were made of copper and bronze when those metals came into use. Finally steel and alloys of steel have displaced other materials for the blades of instruments for cutting.

The early generalized cutting instrument has been differentiated into specialized instruments of wide variety, e.g., the sword, the razor, and shears.

Table knives were introduced circa 1600; until then, individuals brought to the table their own knives, which served also as daggers.

The penknife was originally a knife for pointing quill pens.

The pocket knife, with the blade folding into the handle, was invented circa 1600.

The cutler's craft or industry was long marked by the successful resistance of the handicraftsman to mass production. Small shops, with from one workman to a half dozen, were characteristic.

Certain localities have become known for the excellence of their cutlery. In Spain, the Toledo blade was famous when the sword was an important weapon. Solingen, in Germany, and Sheffield, in England, have been noted for their cutlery since the Middle Ages. Seki, in Japan has records showing the making of swords for over 1000 years.

The best knives are forged from high-carbon steel. Cheaper grades are beveled from steel bars thick in the center and tapering toward the edges or are stamped from sheets of metal. In hollow-ground blades, the sides are concave. For stainless blades, the steel is usually partly replaced by, or coated with, chromium.

Rostfrei means anti-rust, rustproof, stainless in German and you will see this word on many Stainless Steel knives made in Europe and not just Germany after 1958.

Scissors blades commonly are either cast in molds or stamped. Most razor blades are die-stamped.

See G. I. Lloyd, The Cutlery Trades (1913, repr. 1968); J. B. Himsworth, Story of Cutlery, from Flint to Stainless Steel (1954).

The above from the Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia Copyright © 1994, 2000, Columbia University Press.

Cutler, a dealer in cutlery

Knife, edge tool used as a cutting instrument; has a pointed blade with a sharp edge and a handle

Flatware, utensils, including knives, spoons, forks, and other specialized implements, for eating and serving food. Flatware is also known as cutlery.

Tableware, items used at meals: dishes, plates, glasses, flatware, and other articles used at meals.

Metalwork, in the fine arts, objects of artistic, decorative, and utilitarian value made of one or more kinds of metal—from precious to base—fashioned by either casting, hammering, or joining or a combination of these techniques.

Metallurgy - study of metals: the study of the structure and properties of metals, their extraction from the ground, and the procedures for refining, alloying, and making things from them.

Alloy - A substance composed of two or more metals, or a substance composed of a metal and certain nonmetals such as carbon.

The above from the Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia Deluxe 2000. Copyright © 1993-1999, Microsoft Corporation.

Knives as utensils or Kitchen knives

Bread knife: A knife with a serrated blade for cutting bread

Boning knife: A knife used for removing the bones of poultry, meat, and fish

Carving knife: A knife for carving large cooked meats such as poultry, roasts, hams

Chef's knife: Also known as a French knife, a cutting tool used in preparing food

Electric knife: An electrical device consisting of two serrated blades that are clipped together, providing a sawing action when powered on

Kitchen knife: Any knife, including the chef's knife, that is intended to be used in food preparation

Oyster knife: Has a short, thick blade for prying open oyster shells

Paring or Coring Knife: A knife with a small but sharp blade used for cutting out the cores from fruit.

Table knife or Case knife: A piece of cutlery, either a butter knife, steak knife, or both, that is part of a table setting, accompanying the fork and spoon

Ulu: An Inuit all-purpose knife

The above from Wikipedia.

Solingen [zO'ling-un]

Solingen, city (1994 population 166,064), North Rhine–Westphalia, W Germany, on the Wupper River opposite Remscheid. It is a major center of the German cutlery industry. Solingen steel, used in making knives, scissors, razors, and surgical instruments, is world famous for its excellence. Solingen was chartered in 1374 and has been known for its fine blades since the Middle Ages. It belonged to the duchy of Berg until 1600 and passed to Prussia in 1815.

The above from the Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia Copyright © 1994, 2000, Columbia University Press.

Sheffield, city (1991 population 470,685) and district, South Yorkshire, N England, at the confluence of the Don River and four tributaries. Sheffield was one of the leading industrial cities of England. It has been a center of cutlery manufacture since the 14th century. The Cutlers' Company, the governing body of cutlery manufacturers, was founded in the city in 1624. Silver and electroplate goods, tools, and heavy steel goods, including plates for artillery and rails, are also made. The first Bessemer-process steelworks were built in Sheffield in 1859; the industry is now all but finished. In the city's Weston Park are an observatory, City Museum, and the Mappin Art Gallery. Also of note is Graves Art Gallery. Educational institutions include the Univ. of Sheffield (1905) and Sheffield Polytechnic.

South Yorkshire, metropolitan county (1991 population 1,249,300), 603 sq mi (1,562 sq km), N central England. The terrain ranges from the marshy lowlands near Hatfield, Humberhead, and Thorne to the western Pennine moors. The Don River flows eastward through the county. The Roman occupation left behind roads and several forts. During the Middle Ages a cutlery industry began at Sheffield; its grindstones were made of the millstone grit of the Pennines. Iron was also mined in the area. During the 19th cent., coal mining and iron and steel works developed into prominent industries, for which South Yorkshire is still known.

The above from the Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia Copyright © 1994, 2000, Columbia University Press.

Toledo, city (1990 population 60,671), capital of Toledo province, central Spain, in Castile–La Mancha, on a granite hill surrounded on three sides by a gorge of the Tagus River. Historically and culturally it is one of the most important cities of Spain. Tourism is its most important industry, and armaments and engraved metalwork are manufactured. Toledo sword blades were famous for their strength, elasticity, and craftsmanship; the art was introduced by Moorish artisans, and it is still carried on.

Toledo is of pre-Roman origin; known in ancient times as Toletum, it fell to the Romans in 193 B.C. The city became an early archiepiscopal see; its archbishops are the primates of Spain. In the 6th cent. Toledo prospered as a capital of the Visigothic kingdom, and it was the scene of several important church councils. Its greatest prosperity began under Moorish rule (712–1085), first as the seat of an emir and after 1031 as the capital of an independent kingdom. Under the Moors and later under the kings of Castile, who made it their chief residence, Toledo was a center of the Moorish, Spanish, and Jewish cultures and thus a great center for translation (its School of Translators was revived in 1995).  Other important products were silk and wool textiles.

In the 15th cent. Valladolid superseded Toledo as chief royal residence, but Emperor Charles V resided in Toledo during much of his reign (1516–56). Its decline began in the 16th cent., but at the same time Toledo gained importance as Spain's spiritual capital. The seat of the Grand Inquisitors, it was also the center of the mysticism symbolized by El Greco, whose name has become inseparable from that of Toledo.

The above from the Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia Copyright © 1994, 2000, Columbia University Press.

Seki, city (2000 population less than 100,000) is less than 25 miles north of Nagoya and it the cutlery capital of Japan. There are records in the city showing that swords have been made in the city for over 1000 years. Seki City is situated in the mid south of Gifu Prefecture, between the famous rivers of Kiso and Nagara.

Nagoya, city (1990 population 2,154,793), capital of Aichi prefecture, central Honshu, Japan, on Ise Bay. A major port, transportation hub, and industrial center, it has iron and steel works, textile mills, aircraft factories, automotive works, and chemical, plastics, electronics, and fertilizer plants. Porcelain, pottery, and cloisonné are also produced. The city has many universities; Nagoya Imperial Univ. is the most famous. Nagoya has two famous shrines, the Atsuta (founded in the 2d cent.), which houses the sacred imperial sword, and the Higashi Honganji, built in 1692. The Tokugawa Art Museum, Higashiyama Park, and an art museum partnered with the Boston Museum of Fine Arts are other attractions. A fortress town in the 16th cent., Nagoya retains a castle built in 1612 and reconstructed in 1959.

Japan is one of the world's leading producers of machinery, motor vehicles, ships, and steel, and by the 1980s it had become a leading exporter of high-technology goods, including electrical and electronic appliances. It has increasingly shifted some of its industries overseas through outsourcing and has made massive capital investments abroad, especially in the United States and the Pacific Rim. Since the late 1960s its economy has been marked by a large trade surplus, with the United States and Europe accounting for more than half its exports. Japan has also become a global leader in financial services, with some of the world's largest banks. By the 1970s it had become the most industrialized country in Asia and the second greatest economic power in the world after the United States.

Damascus, or Dimashq, (1994 population 1,394,322), capital and chief city of Syria, in southwestern Syria, on the Baradá River, near the Anti-Lebanon Mountains in the southwestern part of the country. The greater part of Damascus, including the rectangular ancient city, is on the south bank of the Baradá modern suburbs extend from the north bank.

Damascus has long been an important commercial center. In former times it was famous for dried fruit, wine, wool, linens, and silks. Damask, a type of patterned fabric, was named for the silk fabrics woven in Damascus. The city was notable also for the manufacture and transshipment of damascened steel sword blades, which were exceptionally hard and resilient. Today the city is the trading center for figs, almonds, and other fruit produced in the surrounding region. Industries in Damascus include handicrafts, such as the weaving of silk cloth and the making of leather goods, filigreed gold and silver objects, and inlaid wooden, copper, and brass articles. Among the city's other manufactures are processed food, clothing, and printed material.

Damascus is one of the world's oldest continuously inhabited cities. According to 15th-century BC Egyptian inscriptions, Damascus was the capital of a city-state. During biblical times the city was subjugated by David, king of Judah and Israel (see 2 Samuel 8:5-6; 1 Chronicles 18:5), and later engaged in warfare with Israel. In 732BC Damascus was conquered by the Assyrians, under Tiglath-pileser III, and in 333 and 332BC it fell to Alexander the Great. After the death of Alexander in 323 BC, Damascus became part of the Seleucid Kingdom. It was conquered by Pompey the Great in 64BC.

In 1941 a combined Allied force attacked Syria and took Damascus, which became the capital of independent Syria in 1946.

The above from the Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia Deluxe 2000. Copyright © 1993-1999, Microsoft Corporation.

U.S.A. cutlery

In the U.S., the first cutlery factory for the manufacture of pocketknives was established at Worchester, Massachusetts, in 1829. As United States steel improved in quality and decreased in price, the industry developed steadily, particularly in New England. Early cutlery was hand forged, a method still used in the manufacture of certain high-quality products. In modern times, all types of cutlery, including forks, table knives, scissors, carving knives, and razors, are produced by machines. Such machinery was first developed in the U.S. and is now extensively employed in Britain and other industrial countries.

The above from the Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia Deluxe 2000. Copyright © 1993-1999, Microsoft Corporation.

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