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American Decorative Arts
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
Maker: George B. Sharp, American, 1819–1904
Retailer: Bailey and Company, American, 1846–1878

Joint or Bone Holder

ca. 1850


6 3/8 × 2 1/4 × 3 1/8 in., 176 g (16.19 × 5.72 × 7.94 cm)
Gift of John Mark Bacon, B.A. 1985

Joint or bone holders reflect the increased formality of gastronomic culture in the Victorian Era. Like other specialized forms such as asparagus tongs and tomato servers, the joint or bone holder performed a single, specific task: it was placed over the bone on a joint of meat and was held in place using the thumb screw. It functioned as a handle to help stabilize the meat during carving. Made from silver and embellished with engine-turned engraving and applied beads, it was clearly meant to be seen by dinner guests. As such, it was part of the ritual performance of dining and would have been used by the host or a senior servant in the dining room, and not out of view in the recesses of the kitchen. This rarified form was eventually eclipsed by the more versatile carving fork.  

Made in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
On view
19th century
Tools and Equipment

Carriage House Antiques, Hesperia, CA, 1978; by purchase to Ruth Nutt, Palos Verdes Estates, CA, and Seattle, WA, 1978–2013; estate sold by Sotheby's New York, 24 January 2015, lot 371; sold to John Mark Bacon, New York, 2015; by gift to Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, 2015


“Acquisitions 2015,” http://artgallery.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/Pub_Bull_acquisitions_2015_updated%2012_16_15.pdf (accessed December 1, 2015).

Sotheby’s, New York, The Collection of Roy and Ruth Nutt: Highly Important American Silver, sale cat. (January 24, 2015), 56, lot 371, ill.

Lita Solis-Cohen, “The Silver Collection of Roy and Ruth Nutt,” Maine Antique Digest (April 2015): 22-D, ill.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.