Vintage Silver Book Review | Eight Centuries of European Knives

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Another addition to my occasional book review series.  For some research I was doing for another article on vintage silver, I decided to take the plunge and purchase Eight Centuries of European Knives, Forks, and Spoons by Klaus Marquardt, published in 1997.

Vintage silver Book Review - 8 Centuries of knives forks spoons

Today’s vintage silver book review – Eight Centuries of European Knives, Forks, and Spoons

The author has chosen to break down the massive scope of contents into seven sections.

  1. the Middle Ages
  2. Renaissance and Age of Mannerism
  3. Baroque and Rococo
  4. Neo-classical and Biedermeier
  5. Augsburg silver
  6. the period of Historicism
  7. the Jugendstil and New Objectivity

Geographically, the emphasis is on Continental Europe, but with enough excursions across the English Channel to be of use to me, as I mentally place English antique and vintage silver into his timeline.

What is truly remarkable about this book is that it is an annotated catalog of a single, private collection never before revealed to the public.  The owner has been building his collection since the 1960’s – and has amassed what is arguably the single best collection of Renaissance spoons anywhere.

Photos far outnumber text passages in this book.  Text is kept tightly focused and does not really place the subject into a broader context of art history.  The photos are the real draw of this book.  Each one is has a reference number with basic infomration on the page and has a more detailed annotation in a separate section in the back of the book.  Done in a consistent size and at a scale of approximately 50% of life-size.

Vintage Silver Book Review: Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty

For me as a professional this is invaluable reference book, I am overjoyed to have it on my bookshelf. More accurately, it has recently spent a great deal of time open on my desk, covered in post it notes. Mr. Marquardt has provided me access to an extraordinary collection in a concise, detailed and well-organized fashion.

However, I’m not so certain as to it’s interest or value to the more casual vintage silver aficionado.  Although the size and quality of the book suggest coffee table luxury, it is not a book full of artistically styled silverware.  These are straightforward reference shots with the pieces placed against a white background…mug shot style.  The sparse text presumes a great deal of familiarity with art history in general, and the development of cutlery more specifically.  Best borrowed from the library unless you are really serious about the subject.


As always the link to the book on Amazon is done without any marketing/ affiliate relationship…. because I know hundreds of you will rush to Amazon after I gave it that glowing book review 😉

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2 thoughts on “Vintage Silver Book Review | Eight Centuries of European Knives

  1. BevNo Gravatar

    Looks like a fascinating book!
    Re the history of spoons, I recently read that in the 1600-1700s, spoons were sometimes given to pallbearers at funerals. These spoons were marked with the initials of the deceased and their dates of birth and death. Thanks for reminding us that there is so much to learn by looking at cultures through every day domestic objects.

    1. SilverMagpiesNo Gravatar Post author

      Bev – You are correct, there is so much to learn via quotidian objects, and often they impart history and connections to us that traditional history texts skip over!

      ~ Nan

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