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 forty six pieces of cutlery. It likely included: three sets of twelve knives and forks for the first course and desserts, one carving knife and fork, seven serving implements, and a marrow scoop or skewer. 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 five-layer string inlay that follows the perimeter of the lid and the front facing edges of the base; in the center of the lid face is a twelve pointed star patera; the lid is attached to the case with two oval hinges; a silver plated oval escutcheon and O-ring is affixed to the center of the lid front with a cotter pin; centered below is a locking mechanism installed in the interior of the front wall of the base that catches an elongated loop of iron extending downwards from the case lid; the lock is served by a second oval silver plated key escutcheon; the interior is fitted with vertical slats that support a pierced board able to accommodate forty-six pieces of cutlery; each slot is separated by a three layer string inlay, the board is edged in herringbone stringing; the interior of the lid features a six pointed star nestled inside of a circle of herringbone stringing; the profiles of the interior walls are mirrored by a line of herringbone stringing; 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.


c. 1775-1799



Mahogany, unidentified secondary wood, ebonized wood, light-wood inlay, iron, fused silverplate on copper, 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

Purchased by the A. Alfred Taubman Acquisition Endowment Fund, 2001

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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