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Silverware: Modern

A New Beginning after 1945

Millions of people lost their homes and household goods during World War II. There was a huge demand for household items and of course silverware along with furniture, plates, glasses, and other everyday goods. In trying to keep the costs low in the first years after the war had ended, the designs out of the 1930´s (with their traditional forms with long knife blades, dangerously long fork prongs and oval shaped spoons) were almost solely used. Up until 1950 almost no new designs for silverware were used. There was one exception, and Hermann Gretsch from the “Pott Company” was the designer in 1948.

New Silverware Design

Through the first half of the 1950s mostly ornate silverware sets were sold. After that, smoother patterns without decor steadily came into fashion. The new design forms were used on all of the silverware´s individual eating utensils and changed their proportion and shape “the face” drastically. The blade of the knife was extremely shortened and the handle of the knife grew proportionally in length. In the design of the fork the length of the prongs were reduced up to 50 percent of the earlier length and the part under the prongs the “fork ship” received a deeper indentation. The bowl of the spoon developed a more rounded form compared to the common oval shape of years past.

A decisive change was the so called “Mid Size Silverware”,  a form size in between  the very large “Table Ware” and the much smaller dessert utensils. Today the mid sized silverware is a very familiar sight, whereas the silverware of our grandparents seems to be enormous.

New Materials, New Decor

Just like in Scandinavia, the German Silverware producers discovered new materials for use in the production of the handles. Bamboo, and plastic were used as early as the 1930s but finally other material; precious wood such as teak, rosewood, ebony, and also oak, pag wood, porcelain, ceramics and modern synthetics, came into use.

The distaste of the new “Decor” changed at the end of the 1960s. “Decor is no more a sin?!” was written in a the magazine “Schlaude” in August of 1967. With the use of new types of decor the silverware producers tried to set themselves apart from their competitors in the face of a certain market saturation and to reach new consumer groups.

The Change of Eating Habits – New Pieces of Silverware

The change in eating led to new products. German silverware companies started to increase the production of party, picnic, and hors d´ oeuvre utensils with technical and trendy innovations to please the consumers. Companies started to advertise with the names of the designers more and more, as did the company WMF since the early 1950s.

In the last years the individual silverware pieces have become much more diversified and with that the different functions too: gourmet spoons, lasagne servers, special cheese knives, latte macchiato spoons, spaghetti utensils, spaghetti testers ….....the list could be endless.