This pattern comes from Exercises in Knitting by Mrs. Cornelia Mee, London: David Bogue, Fleet Street, 1846.
I have not been able to find absolute documentation for a fish serviette but my guess is thatthis may have been placed on the table or a sideboard for serving, over the tablecloth to protect it, and under or next to the serving dish so as to catch any dripping, sauce or fragments of food as it was served or transferred onto the plate for eating. Might it also have been an elegant cloth, held under the platter by a servant to catch any dripping, as he or she offered it to those sitting at the table – a scene constantly portrayed on Downton Abbey. I must look closer at the serving dishes next time I watch it. Did the stately homes, or even modest ones belonging to the 19th century rising middle class with their fish forks and knives, have many of these serviettes? They may seem like yet more pieces of excessive and pretentious 19th century household paraphernalia or just another pattern in a publication but, on the other hand, they would help keep the tablecloth clean throughout the meal and a piece of cooked fish does have a tendency to fall apart. The serviette itself, for all of its delicate stitches is actually rather dense and would be absorbent for those bits or sauce that might fall or to wipe the edges of the serving dish, and then disappear after the fish course of the meal.
The fish serviette was knit on 2.25mm/US 1 with DMC Baroque Crochet Cotton, Size 10
The twelve row pattern should be repeated for a length of of about “9 or 10 nails” (roughly 22 ½”) but mine is only 13 ¼” long by 10 ¼” wide.
The serviette should be laid lengthways in front of the serving dish or platter.