American brilliant cut glass knife rests at Historical Glass Museum

A large collection of American Brilliant Cut Glass knife rests from the Edwin W. and Janet H. Beach collection now on display at the Historical Glass Museum. Opened to the public since 1985, the museum is located in Redlands, Calif. The Historical Glass Museum displays more than 6,000 examples of American glassware from the 19th to the 21st centuries. Visitors are invited to see the largest collection of American household glassware west of the Mississippi Saturdays and Sundays from 12 noon – 4 p.m. Admission is by donation.
The museum’s newest collection of glass knife rests is now on display. Knife rests were part of the Victorian convention of one more things to add to the table setting, along with fish knives and lettuce forks and individual asparagus tongs. Knife rests were designed especially for the master of the house to rest his carving knife and fork on after carving a portion and placing on a plate to hand to one of his guests. The host would of course be at the head of the table unless he discharged this task to his butler who would possibly do the carving on the sideboard. Either way the table or sideboard would need protecting with a set of two quite large knife rests. In some more wealthy establishments there were also a set of knife rests at each diners chair placing. Knife rests were often in cut glass to match the rest of the glassware or salts on the table.
The purpose of the knife rest was to keep the table linen clean, of course, but the knives were only placed on the rests when dirty. You would never begin a meal with the knives on a knife rest. During the meal, the dinner knife was properly placed on your plate between bites. Only when the plate was removed between courses was the knife placed on the knife rest.
A very elegant table was set with matching cut glass knife rests and salts each with their own salt spoon. As for elegant, the Victorians often used individual epergnes and figural napkin rings. There were many lovely Victorian conventions that added elegance to the Victorian table. Individual butter pats, salts, and knife rests can be found and collected in many different patterns. 
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