The major items of cutlery in the western world are the knife, fork and spoon. Traditionally, good quality cutlery was made from silver (hence the U.S. name), though steel was always used for more utilitarian knives, and pewter was used for some cheaper items, especially spoons. From the nineteenth century, Electroplated Nickel Silver (EPNS) was used as a cheaper substitute; nowadays, most cutleries, including quality designs, are made from stainless steel. Plastic cutlery is made for disposable use, and is frequently used in fast food or take-away outlets and provided with airline meals.
Two forms of utensil combining the functionality of various pairs of cutlery are the spork (spoon / fork) and knork (knife / fork).
Cutlery gets its name from the term for a person skilled in making knives, a cutler. The Worshipful Company of Cutlers was one of the London livery companies, reflecting the importance of this trade in the Middle Ages.
The Master Cutler is the head of the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire established in 1624. His role is to act as an ambassador of industry in Sheffield, England.
Cutlery gained prominence during the Middle Ages. Among its most early widespread uses was in the 12th century, in the House of Nemanjić.
The "Master Cutler" was the name of a train that ran between London Marylebone and Sheffield (the centre of the cutlery manufacture in the UK) during the 1950s and late 1960s. Midland Mainline now operate the Master Cutler between London St. Pancras and Sheffield.