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Author Topic:   Another mystery server

Posts: 1502
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 07-31-2001 07:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brent     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Here is a puzzler: what is this cute little pierced ladle for? It looks like a much larger piece, but it measures just under 6 inches in length. The bowl is about 2 inches across. The pattern is Empress, patented in 1880.

A careful review of the recent Tiffany flatware book shows nothing quite like it. My best guesses are:

1.) A nut or bon-bon server

2.) a (very) small sugar sifter, though the ladle shape would make it awkward to use.

I would be very surprised if this item were not made in other patterns, but I can not recall seeing another. Does anyone know what it is?


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Registered: Apr 99

iconnumber posted 07-31-2001 07:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My first thought was also a nut server, but the curve of the handle seems awkward. What about a tea strainer, handled instead of made to sit directly on the cup? The curved handle would keep the hand away from the spout while pouring and the bowl size would fit a teacup nicely. Or is the piercing too large?

[This message has been edited by wev (edited 07-31-2001).]

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Paul Lemieux

Posts: 1768
Registered: Apr 2000

iconnumber posted 07-31-2001 08:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I do not think it is a tea strainer. If it isn't a sugar sifter, my guess would be a pierced ladle for serving something that comes in a liquid that needs to be drained before eating.

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M H Bradshaw

Posts: 32
Registered: Apr 99

iconnumber posted 07-31-2001 10:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for M H Bradshaw     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I had one of these small ladles in Oxford (1895) but couldn't find anything to serve in it that really worked. It always seemed too small for sugar (although I'm inclined to think this was it's original purpose) and shaped wrong for anything else. Since it's about the same size & shape as a cream ladle, perhaps it was part of a set for serving cream and sugar over berries.

I considered olives or pickles in liquid but that would require a castor where the ladle would be too large and probably too short, not to mention awkward.

[This message has been edited by M H Bradshaw (edited 07-31-2001).]

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Scott Martin
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Posts: 11377
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 08-01-2001 05:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My guess is that one / all of the above or maybe this....

A few years ago, a very knowledgeable dealer pointed out that there was sort of a Victorian chic, where one must use a utensil for everything. It was also a time of great big dinner picnicking events or outdoor formal dinning. The dealer explained that this item was a punch bowl skimmer. It was used to remove small leaves and bugs.

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M H Bradshaw

Posts: 32
Registered: Apr 99

iconnumber posted 08-01-2001 07:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for M H Bradshaw     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The utensil that I've seen called a punch skimmer was shaped like a tea strainer with a very short handle. I've never seen one in an old catalog, though.

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Ken G.
iconnumber posted 08-23-2001 01:36 AM           Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have a very similar piece in Hindostanee (Gorham, patent 1878).

I can't add much to the speculation on use, but it certainly is a nice piece. I've always assumed it was a sugar sifter. As for size, there is a grouping of Whiting Radiant on ebay just at the moment with strawberry forks and what are described as two sugar sifters--these being slightly larger than master salt spoons and pierced. If those can be sugar sifters, then this one is big enough, too!

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