Once upon a time, "Monday was Washday"—which made Mondays the most difficult day of the week (especially for the servants). Before automated washing machines, laundry had to be soaked (sometimes overnight), soaped, agitated (perhaps with a laundry board), boiled, rinsed, wrung-out, dried, starched and ironed. And, don't forget (depending on how far back you look), the water might have to be gathered, a fire built and the water heated.
To keep table linens clean (thus, extending their usage between washes), knife rests were invented to be used at each place setting—upon which a dinner guest may rest his dirty knife at an incline (thus protecting the linen from soiling). The humble knife rest, thus, became a "blank canvas" for designers and metalworkers who created handsome and unusual designs for this otherwise humble, utilitarian item.
The pair of knife rests (shown above) were made in England around 1880. They are silver-plated and feature spooled shafts and concentric-stepped feet. Please click on the photo to learn more about them.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248