It was crafted in 1860, at the beginning of a decades-long era when Americans employed forks, knives, spoons, and other elaborately designed tableware to flaunt their wealth and sophistication. The server and other pieces pictured here will be among the items exhibited in Feeding Desire: Design and the Tools of the Table, 1500–2005, which opens May 5 in Manhattan at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.
The coral-handled fork shown below, which was made in Germany in the 1600s, fulfilled a cultural purpose similar to that of the macaroni server. Dinner guests of that period were expected to bring their own tableware, and fancy cutlery became a status symbol.
Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum,