King's pattern or King's hourglass?

It is not often possible to establish the reasons behind the naming of flatware patterns or the changes that have taken place over time. By the second quarter of the nineteenth century, changing technology meant there were many cast patterns in regular production. 

The pattern book for Chawner and Company gives a wide range of these and the names they were given at the time. Many are no longer produced but some, such as King’s pattern, have now been available for some two hundred years. According to Ian Pickford's book on Silver Flatware, ‘this pattern dates principally from the early 19th century though, since it is based on French 18th century designs, earlier examples may be found’.

An entry in the records of John Wakelin and Robert Garrard (1792-1802) shows that on April 7th 1798 they were supplied ‘1 King’s pattern table spoon’ by Richard Crossley, which they then sold to a Mr. Ambrose [Note 1]. Since no examples of what we now know as King’s pattern appear to have been noted in the eighteenth century,  it is therefore to be assumed that this reference is to a different pattern referred to by the same name.

There were cast flatware patterns in the eighteenth century including the French style King’s Hourglass variant which was supplied to His Majesty by Wakelin and Tayler (Wakelin's earlier partnership) as part of the service made to celebrate George III’s return to health in 1789:

Plate 1. Detail of a ladle by Richard Crossley from the 1789 service.

It therefore seems plausible to suggest that, at least in the eyes of  its retailers, after 1789 this pattern was named for that most prominent person for whom it was originally made — the King.

Plate 2. Tablefork by Richard Crossley, London 1804.
Plate 2. Tablefork by Richard Crossley, London 1804.

Today, the fork in Plate 2 would be termed King’s hourglass — and today's "King's pattern" is illustrated by the fine and heavy fishslice in Plate 3 below,
Plate 3. Fishslice in what is now termed King’s pattern: Thomas Death, London 1824 (SN 2376)

Luke Schrager

1                Archive of Art and Design(London) AAD/1995/7/24/page 311

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