Knife rests probably were invented for use by Sixteenth Century aristocracy and likely started as simple pieces of wood—used to elevate a dirty knife (and maybe a fork) off of the table. Ceramic knife rests followed (not unlike chopstick rests, which may have been invented even earlier than knife rests). Come the Victorian Era—the "Golden Age of Knife Rests"—designers ran wild with unusual designs and numerous materials (some of them precious).
This set of knife rests—an impressive brigade of twelve!—was made in France during the Art Deco Twenties. They were crafted in the workshop of Saglier Frères et Cie which had been founded in the Nineteenth Century by the Parisian goldsmith, Victor Saglier. He is well known for his Art Nouveau metalworks—serving items, bowls, candelabras—and he sometimes applied decorative metal mountings to ceramic or glass objects made by other artisans. When Victor Saglier died in 1894, his brothers, Eugène and André, continued running the company until the last brother's death in 1948.
In French, "knife rests" are called "Porte-couteaux." Please click on the photo above 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