A reader recently sent in a question regarding the specific use of a sterling fork she had. She had been told that the fork was a pickle fork but she was skeptical because of the shape of the fork. It was very similar to the fork in the picture accompanying this article.
Well, it turns out the fork could very well have been a pickle fork. In doing a bit of research, I looked at the Gorham pattern catalogs from the period 1898-1915 for Strasbourg, Chantilly and Buttercup. Each catalog listed a fork similar to the one in the picture, all called "pickle forks". The lengths of all were in the range of 5 1/2 inches to 5 7/8 inches.
The most interesting to me was the fork in the Buttercup catalog of 1900. The fork, which is the one in the picture, was identified as "Pickle or Pastry Fork". That's a very interesting combination of uses!
Further research revealed that several other manufacturers had offered similarly-shaped pickle forks. Casual observation indicated that most of the patterns that included such a fork had originated in the late nineteenth or early twentieth centuries. It was often identified as "old style pickle fork". Here are two examples: