Although the fork had been first used over eight hundred years earlier, it was not until the nineteenth century that it was widely adopted by all classes of people for eating. Up until this point it had been usual to use one’s hands and a knife to cut and eat food, with a spoon used for broths and other liquids. The adoption of the fork by all classes is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that even soldiers, traditionally the uncouth of society, being issued and using the utensil in the latter years of the nineteenth century. This change to more refined dining is perhaps down not only to the greater adoption of the utensil generally by even the lowest tiers of society, but also the growing professionalization of the armed forces with a ‘better class’ of recruit joining the army rather than the very lowest dregs of British life seen during the Napoleonic era. By the Great War, the use of forks was nearly universal and this example of fork dates to the First World War and conforms to the standard War Office pattern: It is made from a single piece of metal, with a heavy handle, the rear of the fork is marked with a soldier’s number:The number is stamped into the metal, and despite the crudity of the markings, it is possible to make out the numbers ‘77499’:Sadly at this date each regiment used its own numbers and it is impossible to get any further identification on its original owner without a regimental mark. Other examples of forks in use at the time include numerous civilian models, including the popular ‘banjo’ backed fork. I must confess that until researching this post I hadn’t realised the fork was from the First World War or that there was even a standard pattern- I will now be moving it to my World War 1 personal kit to replace a civilian fork I am currently using.