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Joint or Bone Holder

Joint or bone holders reflect the increased formality of gastronomic culture in the Victorian Era. Like other specialized forms such as asparagus tongs and tomato servers, the joint or bone holder performed a single, specific task: it was placed over the bone on a joint of meat and was held in place using the thumb screw. It functioned as a handle to help stabilize the meat during carving. Made from silver and embellished with engine-turned engraving and applied beads, it was clearly meant to be seen by dinner guests. As such, it was part of the ritual performance of dining and would have been used by the host or a senior servant in the dining room, and not out of view in the recesses of the kitchen. This rarified form was eventually eclipsed by the more versatile carving fork.

Geography: Made in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Culture: American

Period: 19th century

Credit: Gift of John Mark Bacon, B.A. 1985

c. 1850
Silver
16.2 x 5.7 x 7.9 cm
2015.77.1
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Yale University Art Gallery
Permanent collection