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Traveling Set (France)

This is a Traveling set. It was made by Gavet Coutelier. It is dated 1809–19 and we acquired it in 1985. Its medium is raised and cast silver, carved ebony, ivory and horn, cut and honed steel (knife blade), tooled leather, cut velvet (case). It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

This cutlery case was a luxury object sumptuously crafted by the Paris silversmith Gavet intended for stylish travelers in early nineteenth century. The set is cleverly designed with nesting parts and includes everything an affluent city dweller could need to dine outdoors, including a fork and spoon with detachable ebony handles inlaid with silver, a folding steel knife, a salt and pepper container with a delicate ivory finial, a corkscrew, and a silver cup- all within an elegantly gilded red leather case. The design’s classical proportions and restrained shield ornaments reflect the prevailing French Empire style.

Until the late seventeenth century, diners brought their own eating utensils to meals, as hosts were not expected to provide cutlery for guests. Throughout the eighteenth century, upper classed travelers carried dining kits and other ingenious collapsible devices for use at inns and for outdoor meals. By the early nineteenth century, repas en plein air, rustic meals in rural settings, were popular among the Parisian bourgoise who would take recreational day trips to locations nearby the capital.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled Have Spoon, Will Travel.

This object was donated by Eleanor L. Metzenberg. It is credited The Robert L. Metzenberg Collection, gift of Eleanor L. Metzenberg.

Its dimensions are

H x Di (closed): 13 x 7.5 cm (5 1/8 x 2 15/16 in.)

It has the following markings

Paris marks for 1809-19

It is inscribed

On bottom of case: GAVET, Coutelier Rue St. Honore No 138 vis a vis L'oratoire, Paris.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Traveling Set (France) |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=3 June 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>