Throughout my learning experience at AC Silver the battle of the “King’s shape”was one of the most joyful to conquer. I joined the team with no understanding of the base shape or form of cutlery and looked for sources to educate myself so I could ‘hold my own’ in a detailed discussion. After some wrong answers and assumptions I feel I can now use my knowledge to consult with customers and attempt conversations with my colleagues to try and aid their enforced love of silver.

A King’s shape spoon and King’s pattern spoon are the same thing

This is not accurate. A King’s shape piece has a stem with a shaped outline to the terminal, in a waisted manner. A King’s pattern spoon has a King’s shape but has defining features to make it true to this iconic pattern.

The only difference between King’s pattern and Queen’s pattern is the shell on the handle

Unfortunately not correct, the shell design can be considered as a factor in the grand reveal but the ‘device’ is the key feature to determine the difference. Through the combinations of concave and convex shells, in addition to flowers, honeysuckles and waisted hourglass designs, these unlock the answer to which of the three principal patterns you are witnessing: King’s, Queen’s and Hourglass.

Kings Pattern Cutlery

King’s Pattern

  • Notable feature/device: honeysuckle
  • Shell design to anterior surface of handle terminal is concave
  • Shell design to posterior surface of handle terminal is convex
Queens Pattern Cutlery

Queen’s Pattern

  • Notable feature/device: flower head and honeysuckle
  • Shell design to both anterior and posterior surfaces of handle terminal are convex
  • Also known as Rosette pattern
  • This is the most decorative of the three principle King’s shape patterns
Hourglass Pattern Cutlery

Hourglass Pattern

  • Notable feature/device: hourglass
  • Shell design to anterior surface of handle terminal is concave
  • Shell design to posterior surface of handle terminal is convex
  • This is the simplest style of the three patterns.

A true King’s pattern spoon always has a shell to the back of the bowl

A diamond heel is the most common of all the heels to the back of a King’s pattern piece with a union shell found on earlier examples. Despite the name the diamond heel does still incorporate a shell design emanating from the defining diamond/lozenge motif. A fun fact I recently discovered is the reverse terminal of the handle is often influenced by these two heel options, with the standard diamond heel being accompanied with a convex shell design and the union shell a concave; this variation can be overwritten to be the same as the pattern’s original classic form but the choice is up to the silversmith and pattern chosen.

A single struck King’s pattern determines the pattern is only shown to the anterior surface and often the reverse of the spoon bears only the hallmarks and potentially a plain rounded heel, reflecting the same form to that of an Old English or Fiddle pattern piece.

To throw a spanner in the works I am also able to provide the four simple words ‘anthemion’, ‘honeysuckle’, ‘husk’ and ‘oyster’. In the early 19th century the King’s Honeysuckle pattern brought about an extra honeysuckle device below the handle terminal and introduced a more flourishing and organic shape to the heel of the spoons and forks. The honeysuckle and anthemion designs reflecting a splayed lobed design and the husk taking a similar form to the shell however involved a more segmented incurved style to the traditional scallop design. The ornamentation referred to as oyster however did not take on the formation of a heel design, however was used across a wide postion of the back of each piece, making a highly imposing and impressive feature.

Oyster Heel Cutlery

Oyster back

Anthemion Heel Cutlery

Anthemion/Honeysuckle heel

Diamond Heel Cutlery

Diamond heel

If you have any questions about flatware patterns or want to share your own ‘crowning achievement’ let us know, we would love to hear from you.

Written by

Rachel O'Keefe-Coulson

Rachel O’Keefe-Coulson is also known as AC Silver’s ‘Silver Lady’. Rachel spends her days handling antique silverware and processing these items for display on the AC Silver website. Rachel will enlighten our readers with posts of a silver theme.