The Story Behind this Blog

Being from the South, Silver is a very big part of my life. It doesn't have anything to do with wealth. Although those with more money - old money, tend to have more of it. New money tend not to spend their money on Silver. They do not have the appreciation for the warmth of the metal, the beauty of the patina, the story it tells of the generations past who have used it. A true southern girl comes of age when she chooses her silver pattern, long before she chooses her mate. If she is smart, she chooses that of her mother, grandmother, or favorite great aunt who in their benevolence will pass their silver on to her. It is the pieces in those sets, the pieces on our tables, along with the pieces we find in the corners of the displays in antique stores that prompted me to start this blog. They are beautiful, they are odd, but what are they, and what in the hell do you do with them?

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Cucumber Server

Cool as a cucumber, served in style in sterling no less, would you expect anything else? Yes, there is piece dedicated to serving cucumbers, the lovely Cucumber Server.

Chantilly by Gorham

Frontenac by International

Mount Vernon by Lunt

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bacon Fork

The Bacon Fork had short tines designed to pick up bacon. It is a rare piece because it was only produced by a few manufacturers and not for long. I'm not sure what was the reason for its demise. I can actually see a use for this, if someone was serving bacon. Also, sometimes referred to as Lox Server.

Ancestry by Weidlich (6 3/4 inches)

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Bar Knife

What an odd piece of sterling - a Bar Knife. I would think that silver would be too soft to use as a bottle opener, but that is a bottle opener on the knife blade. (I assume the blade is stainless.) The blade is sharp enough to cut fruit (lemons, limes etc). The perfect accessory for the Bartender who wants to make a statement.

Supposedly it is available in all Towle, Wallace, International, and Tuttle patterns - (just in case you need that unique gift!)

(Shown in Ancestry by Weidlich)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Asparagus Server

Did you know there were four ways to properly serve Asparagus. Well, if you did, move along, I do not want to bore you. However, for the rest of us, I'll share what I have learned. First, I find these pieces to be some of the prettiest silver pieces and they are fairly easy to find in most patterns. (Which means we all should be using them?) We have the Asparagus Server, the Hooded Asparagus Server, the Asparagus Serving Fork, and Asparagus Tongs.

The servers are designed to scoop the asparagus up on the flat surface and roll onto the server. The vegetables can be pierced with the fork or selected and served with the tongs.

(Flat Asparagus Server Shown in Francis I by Reed & Barton)


(Asparagus Fork shown in Burgundy by Reed & Barton)


(Asparagus Tongs shown in English King by Tiffany 7 1/2 inches)

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Waffle Server

And, you thought waffles just came out of the toaster and you threw them on the plate. Oh, no,no! The proper lady would serve her waffles (or have them served) with a sterling silver Waffle Server. If your mother did not use one, I share your pain. Time and therapy will help us overcome this issue of our childhood.

(Shown in Blackberry Vine by Tiffany)

(Shown in Duke of York by Whiting)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Holiday Pieces

There are several Holiday pieces around. Here are a few sample. I am sure there are more. Then Tiffany has their own holiday sterling pattern - Holly which was introduced in 1895 and has since been discontinued.

(Wallace Grande Baroque Sugar Spoon with Christmas Wreath)

Sugar Spoon With Christmas Wreath 200

(Hor d'oerve fork shown Holly by Tiffany)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ladles by Any Name

And, I bet you thought that there was just the Gravy Ladle. OK, maybe you are smugly saying that you have a Sauce Ladle (well so do I). But, do you have a Cream Ladle, Soup Ladle, Punch Ladle, Mayonnaise, Mustard, Oyster, Honey, Toddy, Claret, or Bouillon Ladle. And, did you know that they come in different sizes.

Don't forget the Boiled Potato Ladle (I kid you not). This piece has spouts on either side of the deep bowl so when you scoop your boiled potato from the water, the water will drain off. I guess for those of you who cook boiled potatoes, this could be useful.

There are also Terrapin, Pea, and Champagne ladles

Bouillon Ladle shown in Georgian by Towle (7 3/4 inches)

Mustard Ladle shown in Old Master by Towle (Approx 4 1/2 inches)

Cream Sauce Ladle shown in Francis I by Reed and Barton


Gravy Ladle in shown Chantilly by Gorham (6 7/8 inches)


Punch Ladle shown in Eton by Wallace (13 1/2 inches)

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Toddy Ladle shown in Japanese by Tiffany (7 1/4 inches)

Claret Ladle shown in Majestic by Alvin (12 1/2 inches)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Soup Place Spoons

Well, let's see here, we have the Bouillon Soup, the Round Bowl Cream Soup, the Gumbo Soup, the Place Oval Soup, and the Desert Oval Soup. If there are more, spare me. The Bouillon spoon is smaller to fit the thinner broth. Cream soup spoons are larger than bouillon but smaller than gumbo and have round shallow bowls. These spoons are all round while the other two are oval in shape.

(Boullion Soup spoon shown in Buttercup by Gorham)

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(The Gumbo Soup spoon shown in Louis XV by Whiting)


(Cream Soup spoon shown in Sir Christopher by Wallace)


(Oval Soup spoon shown in Pompadour by Whiting)


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ramekin Forks

Serving creme brulee,? Then for correct service and presentation you will need to use Ramekin Forks. These pieces are smaller than salad forks. Some have a bowl like shape design. The purpose is to fit into the small individual dishes that custards such as creme brulee are baked and presented.

You will find old Ramekin forks in many patterns. You can check the list of all pieces in a pattern to see if any given piece was offered (at any time). They will (usually) include on the list discontinued pieces.

(Shown in Marquis by Whiting 5 inches)

(Shown in Louis XV by Whiting 5 1/4 inches)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Chipped Beef Fork

First, for those not familiar, chipped beef is thinly sliced smoked cured beef. So, naturally, we need a Chipped Beef Fork to serve it. Personally, I still use Chipped Beef in a recipe, but I skimp and use a regular "place" fork to handle it. The pieces can be very ornate and lovely. They are small, approximately 6 3/4 inches.

(Shown in Pansy by International)

Small Chipped Beef Fork in the Pansy (sterling, 1909, No Monograms) pattern by International Silver

(Shown in New Art by Durgin)

Small Chipped Beef Fork in the New Art (sterling,1899) pattern by Durgin Silver

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Grape Shears

A very ornate but rather rare piece that is no longer popular. Grape Sheers were used to cut the stems when serving grapes. Most measure 6 -7 inches long.

(Sterling but in an unknown pattern pre-1920)

Victorian Sterling Silver Figural Grape Shear

Friday, December 18, 2009

Berry Serving Spoon

OK, this piece has a split personality. It is officially called a Berry Spoon but every reference I found says that it is used for scooping berries and serving casseroles - go figure. In my book, those are two entirely different dishes, unless you consider a blueberry cobler - a casserole. Sometime the bowl may be plain and sometimes it can be shell shaped. Some of these pieces are the most ornate bowl type servers I have seen in sterling and vary greatly between patterns.

(Shown here in Buttercup by Gorham  9 1/8 inches)

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(Shown in Arlington by Towle 9 inches)

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(Shown in Heraldic by Whiting 8 1/2 inches)

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Strawberry Pieces

Strawberries must have been big because there are beautiful Strawberry Serving sets, which consist of a spoon and fork. Also, there is a Strawberry Fork, used in addition to the 5 piece place setting when strawberries are served. It has a special 3 tine designed for eating the fruit.

(Strawberry Serving Set shown in unknown pattern)

(Two Tine Strawberry Fork in an unknown pattern by Hamilton & Diesinger 4 1/2 inches)

(Three Tine Strawberry Forks shown in unknown pattern by Campbell-Metcalf)


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Saratoga Chip Server

Yes, the Victorian germaphobes did not want their potato chips touched by human hands as they were served from whatever vessels (bowls, baskets, etc.) they used. So, naturally one would use a sterling silver server - a Saratoga Chip Server . These can be found in most patterns. The name Saratogo comes from the history of the potato chip, invented in Saratoga, NY in 1853. The servers only date back to 1873 - I wonder what they did up until that time?

Lancaster by Gorham

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Crumb Knife

Not just for the efficient waiter in the fancy restaurant, these are available in your pattern for use at your dining room table. The Crumb Knife (or Crumber) is designed to remove crumbs from your table. My assumption is that this was not meant for the lady of the house but more likely for her house servants.

This can be a very expensive piece in some of the older patterns.

(Unknown pattern by Duhme)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Oyster Servers

Yes, there are two - the Oyster Server and the Fried Oyster Server, as well as an Oyster Fork, which is used in addition to a five piece place setting. The server is used to serve oysters both in and out of the shell, while the fried server, just like its name, is used to serve fried oysters. (And, to think all these years I have been using a standard serving spoon - how embarrassing.)

The Oyster Server shown Lancaster by Gorham

Entree/Macaroni/Oyster Server
Oyster Fork shown in Olympian by Tiffany

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Petite Four Server

If you didn't know before, you need the Petite Four Server to properly to serve your petite fours. You can find this piece in most patterns.

(Shown Love Disarmed by Reed and Barton)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Jelly/Cake Server

Once again, not to be confused with your every day cake server, the Jelly/Cake Server looks like a cake server or pie server and can be used to lift and serve pie or cake, however this piece can also properly serve solid jellies. It would have taken a while for someone just to have learned which of these pieces were used for which occasion. God forbid one use a regular cake server when the occasion called for a Jelly/Cake Server.

(Shown in Stratford by International)

Jelly/cake Server in the Stratford (sterling, 1902, No Monograms) pattern by International Silver

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Cracker Spoon

The every day Cracker Spoon, used to scoop and serve crackers. I think most likely oyster and soup crackers (I don't think saltines would fit well in the scoop.) There is a pierced and solid. Here are examples of both.

Old English by Towle (7 1/2 inches)

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Ice Cream Slicer

Don't confuse this with an ice cream knife, the Ice Cream Slicer is different. There was a time when ice cream was made like large blocks of ice and very hard. This utensil was used to slice the ice cream from these blocks into pieces that would fit nicely into serving dishes and on plates.

(Shown in Old Master by Towle)
Towle Silversmiths Old Master Ice Cream Slicer - T033835

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Cake Saw

Now not to be confused with the cake knife or the wedding cake knife, the Cake Saw has a serrated side with long teeth. I never could find a reason one would need "long teeth" to cut a cake unless it was Aunt Maude's ungodly fruit cake that was more like a brick and everyone avoided it on the family buffet.(10 1/2 inches)

Lily of the Valley by Whiting (10 inches)
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Friday, December 4, 2009

Sardine Fork

Given that I have never served my guests sardines, I'm not sure I would have a use for a Sardine Fork, although I must admit it is an attractive piece. After some diligent searching I found a description of the need and use of this rather odd piece, and I quote, "The distribution of canned food forever changed cuisine in the U.S. The Midwest, for example, never received seafood until it got a shelf-life. Canned sardines were a huge hit in non-coastal areas and their novelty warranted a new utensil. Seven short tines were just right for stabbing the length of this long but little fish out of its oil." Further research shows perhaps they are more practical and for things other than sardines. They can be used for serving pickled vegetables, anchovies, and petits fours - now there's a variety for you.

Unlike most pieces that are simliar across sterling companies and patterns, this particular piece was all over the map. I found one by International with 6 tines, another with only 5 tines. Old master by Towle had a Sardine Server that was flat with no tines as did Grande Baroque- Continental by Wallace.

(Shown in Orange Blossom by Old Alvin 5 3/8 inches)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Corn Butterer

Oddly enough, I could not find a description of a sterling Corn Butterer and never having had one at my plate when served corn, I had no personal experience. However after looking at it, I assume that one would put butter in it and then use it to rub on an ear of corn. Actually, it could come in as a handy piece, expensive, but handy.

(Shown here in Francis I by Reed and  Barton)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Bonbon Spoon

Now the Bonbon Spoon may be a more familiar piece to some of us. However, were you aware that there are three types? - a Bonbon Scoop, a Bonbon Pierced Spoon, & the more popularBonbon Solid Spoon. The difference between the "scoop" and the "spoon" is that the "scoop" has a shell bowl, while the "spoon" has a rounded one. To complicate life, you can also have a Bonbon Nut Server and Bonbon Tongs. I think they carry this to the extreme but then the Victorian era did love their candies. And, for those curious sorts, Bonbons are candies rolled into balls usually made of chocolate. These silver pieces were designed to keep the chocolates from melting in their hands since they had no air conditioning (and M and Ms had yet to be invented)

(The pierced spoon shown is Buttercup by Gorham 4 5/8 inches)

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(The Solid Spoon shown in Repousse by Kirk  5 1/8 inches)

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(The Scoop shown in Landers No.2 by Baker Manchester 5 3/8 inches)

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Baked Potato Fork

Yes, there is one for the potatoes also. This piece, the Baked Potato Fork, is designed solely "for lifting and serving baked potatoes."

La Rocaille by Reed and Barton (9 inches)