Date Made/Found: around 1790
Material and Medium: Old Sheffield Plate, silver, ivory
Dimensions: Overall: 15 x 45 x 175mm (9/16 x 1 3/4 x 6 7/8in.)
Department: Decorative Art
Accession Number: L1943.248
This object is a small server. Our original records suggest that it was used for serving strawberries. It is also possible that it was used for serving small cakes or pastries. The server was probably made in Sheffield, around 1790.
The object is made from Old Sheffield Plate, which was invented in the city in the 1740s. Old Sheffield Plate is a form of silver plate in which a thin layer of silver is fused onto a copper ingot (bar). The ingot was then rolled into sheets and used to make objects.
The handle is made from ivory and would have been made by a specialist craftsman. It has long ridges along its length that would help the user to grip the handle securely. This ridged finish is often called 'reeding'.
As dining habits evolved 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 to 1800s, when a vast array of new eating and serving utensils were invented, such as this small server. New items were most often developed to be used with particular types of food or to serve a particular function. They included salad forks, cheese scoops, gravy spoons and muffineers for sprinkling sugar and spice onto hot muffins.
Many of these new items were made in silver, which was incredibly expensive. The introduction of cheaper alternatives to silver, such as Old Sheffield Plate and Britannia metal (a type of pewter), meant that fashionable accessories became more widely available during the 1700s.
This object is part of the Bradbury Collection.