Date Made/Found: 1750-1800
Material and Medium: steel, silver, ivory
Department: Decorative Art
Accession Number: 2004.599
This steel serving spoon was made around 1750-1800. It has a leaf shaped bowl, long and slender stem and a plain silver bolster. The haft is made from green stained ivory. This began to be used for hafting cutlery and flatware in England during the 1700s. It became very fashionable by the middle of the century. Towards the end of the 1700s it had declined somewhat in popularity.
Frederick Bradbury, who published a comprehensive overview of Old Sheffield Plate manufacture in 1912, states that green ivory hafted cutlery and flatware were often made by the same cutlers who made tableware with silver filled handles. Bradbury offers the suggestions that ivory was stained green to conceal grease marks, or perhaps to replicate the mineral malachite. Tableware has always been influenced by changing tastes, so perhaps it can be suggested that green ivory was simply fashionable for a time.
Dinner was the main meal of the day in the Georgian period and was a very sociable event, often lasting the entire afternoon and evening. The first course would generally include soups, boiled meats and fish, small roasts and pies, vegetable dishes and sometimes a sweet pudding. The second course would include a main joint as a focal piece, cooked dishes such as fricassees and ragouts, fish, fruit pies and custards.
As dining habits continued to evolve in wealthy homes, the rituals of eating became more complex. As a result, eating and serving implements and their associated etiquette also became increasingly intricate. This is perhaps most evident in the 1700s-1800s, when a vast array of new eating and serving utensils were invented. These were most often developed to be used with particular types of food or to serve a particular function, such as salad forks or dessert spoons.
This object forms part of the Bill Brown Collection. Supported by The Art Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund and the Friends of Sheffield Galleries & Museums Trust.