June 11, 2010

Brown Paper Packages with Tape

The post office frowns on tying up parcels with string these days, so parcels usually arrive covered with layers of tape. But arriving packages are wonderful, regardless of how they’re wrapped.

Today, I received a parcel from ex-housemate, Andy. I have to say a few things about Andy. 6d 014 I was his lodger for about nine months in Wales. We were fast friends from our first phone conversation and continue to be close friends today. His two darling boys, Robbie and Johnny, are wonderful and talented children.  Andy was my closest friend and sometime saviour in Cardiff, and we had lots of adventures together.  He will always have a special place in my life and in my heart!Andy Robbie & JohnnyWhen I received a parcel from Andy today, I knew I was in for a treat. I had asked Andy to take up the challenge of finding some of the French Ivory-handled cutlery. As you may know, French Ivory has been around since 1865, when it was first invented by Alexander Parkes.  Celluloid has been used as an excellent ivory substitute. Casein has also been used.

Names for these "faux ivories" include French Ivory, Ivoride, Genuine French Ivory, Ivorine, etc. Both grain patterns and the engine turned effect are added -- in general, the patterns of these are very regular in the fakes, and more irregular in the real thing. In instances of very good imitations (i.e. using celluloid), chemical tests are required to tell real ivory and the fakes apart. 6-10 003Andy said he’d never really looked for this – even though I had dozens of pieces which I collected – but when he started looking around, he was able to find some great sets for me.6-10 019One of the sets came in a wooden presentation box, and another in a small pebble-grain leather case. Much of it has sterling silver ferrules, with early 1900’s English silver hallmarks. This set has marks from Sheffield, the crown; England, the lion passant; and 1916, the P.6-10 007x The set in the wooden presentation box contained six knives with French Ivory handles, and six dessert spoons, six forks, six teaspoons and two serving spoons! It’s really an amazing set, and in perfect condition.

6-10 024

Each of the pieces fits in the case exactly, although they’d been a bit shaken up when they arrived this afternoon. The case is lined in a pale blue grey felt on the holders and green felt on the top and bottom. It’s so hard to find beautiful workmanship like this anymore.

In a bout of shameless self promotion, I will be selling this silver on my Etsy site!  It’s been a big seller in the past, and I am sure I will sell out of it again.


  1. Lovely, in brown paper packages, indeed.

  2. Did you know about the smell test for French ivory? You briskly rub it in a small spot with fabric until it gets warm. At that point you can smell a decidely chemical smell that you cannot with plastic.
    I love the stuff and fortunately inherited all that I have including a lovely vanity set with glove stretchers and tiny rouge pots.

  3. A good friend is hard to find; a good friend who will shop for you on other continents and mail you stuff is even harder to find! Regardless of shopping abilities, though, Andy just looks like a find! He is a charming and those kids adorable. I think we used to use a set of French Ivory knives daily at the dinner table growing up. Mom found them at a yard sale and we simply used them!

  4. Meg! These are lovely! Good for Andy, you lucky girl...a man who will shop for you??? I am awestruck! I am going to your Etsy site to look things over. Heaven help me, I just don't know how much longer I can AFFORD to hang out on your blog!! LOL!! Have a great weekend!

  5. Friends makes everything else worth while. Thanks for sharing. Mary

  6. Lucky girl and a brown wrapping with a surprise is fine with me!!

    Art by Karena

  7. Hi, I have found your blog whilst trying to find a value of my ivory fish knife and fork set, it is real ivory not French, and the hallmarks are as yours with the exception of GB at the beginning. Have you any idea of the value of this set? It has 6 knives and forks and is the original wooden case that is now a bit bashed, the case is lined with a blue silk to the top with REAL IVORY printed on it and the bottom is the same colour with velvet and silk lining. Thanks Joanna

  8. Joanna... if you're in the UK, these sets are much more common than in the US, therefore, worth less. I have sold sets of the French Ivory for about $15/piece, so you might use that as a guide. I am not qualified to give you a valuation, just my thoughts!


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