Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Porte Couteau aka Knife Katie S.

Here is my collection of knife rests. Like all collections I don't think I set out to collect this one thing in particular. It just happened, I picked up one here and there and before I new it I had a collection within my collection...

The nice thing about knife rests are that they are small and usually not too costly.
My least expensive one was probably around $20.

Etiquette of knife rests today:
According to Kim Vallee, "Knife rests are a stylish table accessory if you plan to reuse the knives for more than one course. Do not put the knife on the knife rest when you are setting the table. The guests will deposit the knife on the knife rest between the courses to avoid spoiling the tablecloth. The knife rests signal to your guests that they should keep their knife. Knife rests are used exclusively in casual dinner.

There is no need for knife rests at a formal dinner. The utensils intended for the course are always removed at the end of each course at a formal dinner."

Above is marked, Dives Sur Mer

This one is by far the most rustic but has a less typical shape.
Part of a set of six gifted to me by fellow club member Laverne Conway.
Brand new, marked FAM France.

Probably my second favorite because it mixes my love of blue/white
and fleur de lys.
Will post that collection shortly, so come back!

And no French knife rest collection would be complete without French
cutlery so here is my Christofle taking a rest.


The use of knife rests dates back to the late 17th and early 18th centuries. They were popular during the Victorian era. This was the period of Queen Victoria’s reign in England, from 1837-1901. It was a period of great prosperity and innovation.

The introduction of the knife rest was associated with a change in dining habits. The Victorian era is known for its elaboration of all aspects of dining, but especially for the proliferation of cutlery and glassware. The Victorians introduced the idea of several courses with a smaller number of food/menu choices. A different knife, fork and glass for every course was the norm.

Originally, the knife rests were probably set on the sideboard to protect the cloth runner. But as with most aspects of this era, eventually they became another aspect of elaborate table dressing. They were most certainly important for the protection of the beautiful table linens that were in use during that time.

Knife rests were made in almost any material, shape, size, and configuration you could imagine. Silver, gold, pottery, mother of pearl, ivory, horn and many combinations of these materials were used.

More information can be found here.

Knife Rests by Virginia L. Neas

Antique Knife Rests by Dean Rockwell
We'll be linking this post to Laurie's A Few of My Favourite Things Saturday meme, why not pop over to her great blog for a few more favourite things.


  1. Some of these are just so stinkin' cute - - - like the two cats lolling side by side.

    I have one knife rest, but mine is clear crystal with "door knob" type ends.

  2. Katie, great choice of topic. I have a few "porte-couteau" in my collection. Mine are all animal figurals. I was taken with these little animals rather than the thought of using them as a knife rest. ;-)
    Thanks for sharing the history on these. Very informative and interesting.
    ~ Sarah

  3. What a fabulous collection! I have one of the little crystal barbell style knife rests but it looks so sad and plain compared to those in your collection. A great post :)


  4. Those are just the cutest knife rests that I have ever seen! And being Quimpers make them even more valuable...Christine

  5. Oh, I love all of them! I have one "dog" knife rest, so I can only use it at dinner for one! You have such pretty examples. I can't wait to see your Fleur De Lys collection, since I also love blue and white and F.D.Ls. Thank you so much for liking this interesting and pretty post to Favorite Things Sat. laurie

  6. We are many, we porte-couteau lovers! There is such a wonderful variety of them out there, and you have a lovely selection here. Thank you for the nice history lesson on them, too. Loved it!