The Washingtons kept a large quantity of china and cutlery on hand at Mount Vernon to accommodate the dining needs of the constant stream of guests to the estate. The inventory taken after Washington's death listed eight "knife cases" used to store utensils. This example holds thirty-seven pieces of cutlery. It likely included two sets of twelve knives and forks, two sets of carving knives and forks, eight serving implements, and a meat skewer or marrow scoop. Diners were given fresh cutlery at the start of each course, necessitating multiple sets for each place setting.


Rectangular box-shaped knife case with serpentine front and deeply slanting lid; the case is outlined in a single ebonized string inlay that follows the perimeter of the lid and the front facing edges of the base; the lid is attached to the case with two shaped hinges; a two-part copper alloy escutcheon is affixed to the center of the lid and base front; screwed to the side walls are two Hepplewhite style copper alloy handles; the interior is fitted with vertical slats that support a pierced board able to accommodate thirty-seven pieces of cutlery; the case rests upon a solid wood base that slightly projects from the case wall to form a lip; the base was once protected from wear by a pad of green baize, only patches remain.





Mahogany, unidentified secondary wood, ebonized wood, copper alloy, iron, wool


Overall: 12 11/16 in. x 9 5/16 in. x 9 1/8 in. (32.23 cm x 23.65 cm x 23.18 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Lawrence R. Houston, 1991

Object Number


Colors (Beta)

Mount Vernon's object research is ongoing and information about this object is subject to change. For information on image use and reproductions, click here.
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