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tline3open  Slices, spades and trowels

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Author Topic:   Slices, spades and trowels
agphile

Posts: 798
Registered: Apr 2008

iconnumber posted 04-17-2016 02:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for agphile     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is some silver flatware that I don’t collect. I don’t like fish slices, those serving pieces with blades that look like overgrown fish knives or sometimes just like fish. I think I know why. I used not to like fish when I was younger. That was the result of my sister and I having pet cats when as children we were living in a London flat. From time to time my mother would boil some fish as a treat for the cats. The cats might have enjoyed this but the disgusting smell of the boiling fish would pervade the whole apartment. It took years for me to overcome that disgust and actually enjoy any fish dish. Enough of the disgust seems to linger to take away any possible interest in adding a fish slice or two to the collection.

However, it has not stopped me from acquiring a handful of serving slices, spades or trowels that do not have fishy connotations.

This small serving slice by Joseph Wilmore, Birmingham, 1806, is nothing very special. I bought it years ago simply because the slightly scooped blade has a symmetry that fish slices lack. I am not sure what it will actually have been used for. Please don’t tell me it was fish.


A couple of butter spades. The top one with an ivory handle by Robert Hennell, London, 1793. The other by Thomas Watson, Newcastle, c.1795 (date letter missing).

And finally, my favourite in this small group, a large serving trowel by Henry Bickerton, London, 1769.

I can just see this being used for a nice, generous slice of pudding or pie.

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Scott Martin
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Posts: 11202
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 04-17-2016 02:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Your first item looks to be a Stilton Cheese Scoop

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agphile

Posts: 798
Registered: Apr 2008

iconnumber posted 04-17-2016 06:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for agphile     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't think it is a cheese scoop. The blade is too large, much larger than on any cheese scoop I have seen, as well as being a rather different shape. At the same time it is a relatively thin gauge of silver and I am not sure how well it would stand up to extracting chunks of cheese.

The shape of this slice seems to me best suited to serving something like a potato croquette or a chocolate eclair, but I am probably clutching at straws when I say this. I can't see it working with stilton, but then I'm not too impressed with the more normal stilton scoops either. Depending on how the cheese is presented I am happy to use a cheese knife or an ordinary spoon.

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Scott Martin
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Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 04-17-2016 07:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If it is light weight then it could be for something else.

Contrary to general modern opinion, Stilton scoops weren't for serving. They were used to prepare a wheel of cheese at table.

June & I have numerous cheese scoops.... depending on the country/period there are very different weights, sizes and shapes.

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agphile

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Registered: Apr 2008

iconnumber posted 04-18-2016 04:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for agphile     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One of the problems of having only a photo to go on is that it doesn’t show the thickness so can be misleading. I recall that when I bought the scoop, many years ago now, I wondered about stilton but dismissed the thought because it didn’t seem strong enough as well as not being the shape I would associate with a traditional English stilton scoop (I wouldn't know about other parts of the world).

I appreciate that stilton scoops were and are used on the wheel or half wheel, but thought for serving rather than preparing: http://www.stiltoncheese.co.uk/US/care/scoop.html
That is unless you think something else was used to remove the cheese from the wheel after it had been broken up by the scoop. Otherwise, the only preparation I have been aware of is the idea of pouring some port into the cheese. I’m not sure whether the idea was to keep the cheese moist or simply to cut a corner because port is a traditional accompaniment to cheese. Anyhow, I tried it once and cannot recommend it. It did nothing for the stilton or for the port.

I am no expert on cheese or cheese related implements so feel free to correct me on any of this. Incidentally, this discussion prompts me to show another item that is normally described as an apple corer though I have seen claims that it is really a cheese tester.

It is 5½ inches long. If I compare it with the size of a stilton cheese iron I am left reasonably satisfied that apple corer is far more likely to be the correct description. It only carries a maker's mark, IP. I cannot be confident about attributing it to one of the many silversmiths with those initials and I assume it dates from c.1780. With its simple form it could be significantly earlier, but not much later or it would have run into the marking requirements of the new duty introduced in 1784.

[This message has been edited by agphile (edited 04-18-2016).]

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Scott Martin
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Posts: 11202
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 04-18-2016 08:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In our publication
    THE BOOK OF SILVER
    FLATWARE
    SILVER MARKS & PATTERNS

Perhaps the most difficult research for us, since it took years of discussions with many different food historians until a clear understanding developed about the history/use of a Stilton Scoop. Here is an excerpt from our 3 page section on

    Stilton Cheese Scoop
    Background
quote:
......

Today the practice of using a Stilton Cheese Scoop is a lost art. Use the Stilton Cheese Scoop by starting at the center of the wheel. You might imagine that this resembles scooping ice cream, but it doesn’t. The scoop is pressed firmly into the center of the wheel and is rotated and pried such that the cheese fractures along the distinctive blue veins. A properly matured Stilton’s veining will cause the cheese to break up into the appropriate serving size. It was also believed that by revealing the vein, the tongue will first taste the vein thereby enhancing the overall flavor experience.

Nowadays, a traditional Victorian style dinner or a formal banquet is one of the few times you might see a full wheel of Stilton being served with a cheese scoop. Although it is traditional to use a Cheese Scoop, it also is problematic. A scooped wheel is thought to be wasteful and it certainly causes the cheese to dry out more rapidly. A prematurely dried out Stilton cheese becomes hard, unattractive and loses most of its distinctive flavor.

The Stilton Cheese Makers’ Association realized that modern lifestyles are such that it is more common for a wheel of cheese to be utilized at several meals. Therefore, they designed a new special Stilton server. The new Stilton server allows the wheel to be cut into neat “cake like” wedges. The Stilton can be covered with plastic wrap and stored in a refrigerator between servings. The wheel can be returned to the table for several days looking and tasting as good as it did on the first appearance. .....



As it regards the "old English tradition" of pouring port over the Stilton... Its a good way to ruin a great cheese and a fabulous port. I don't recommend it.

Here is another variation:



I believe your apple corer was perhaps a pocket version which has been separated from its cover.

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Scott Martin
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Posts: 11202
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 04-18-2016 09:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is a fun well made video by John Kirkwood called How to make Blue Stilton Cheese at home. This man has great patience smile .

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agphile

Posts: 798
Registered: Apr 2008

iconnumber posted 04-18-2016 01:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for agphile     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Scott

Thanks for the clarification about the use of a stilton scoop. That explains why I have always wondered about the usefulness of such implements. I was trying to visualise them digging chunks out of the cheese to serve hungry diners. The idea of causing fractures along the veins never occurred to me.

I'm glad we agree about the nonsense of pouring port into a stilton wheel.

And interesting to see your pictures of some scoops - very different from any English examples that I am aware of, but that may just be because I tend to concentrate on earlier periods.

I had a nice piece of stilton with my lunch today. Served it with a knife and found myself wondering whether something like a miniature crumb scoop would be a useful invention to pick up the crumbly bits, but then I scooped them up on the blade of the knife as I do most days.

And I think I am content to go on buying at the cheese counter of the local store rather than trying to make my own, but interesting to see an enthusiast at work.

[This message has been edited by agphile (edited 04-18-2016).]

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agphile

Posts: 798
Registered: Apr 2008

iconnumber posted 04-18-2016 01:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for agphile     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I forgot to add that the apple corer may indeed have been a pocket version as you suggest. They often come with a detachable corer part that can be unscrewed and then turned round to be screwed back and hidden within the handle. In this case, however, the corer is fixed but I guess there may originally have been a separate cover or case for it.

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agphile

Posts: 798
Registered: Apr 2008

iconnumber posted 04-08-2017 07:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for agphile     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For over 20 years I have been content to own the single example of an apple corer that I illustrated above. The suggestion that it might be a pocket corer missing its case resulted in my taking a closer interest than I might otherwise have done when several apple corers came up for sale at the same time recently. I noticed that those like mine with fixed corers all lacked a case and were larger than the unmistakeable pocket examples with corers that could be unscrewed and stowed in the handle. The inevitable happened and I ended up buying one of the latter (by Joseph Taylor, Birmingham, 1800). My pictures show my original corer and the new acquisition together to compare the sizes, as well as the new piece with its corer part stowed away.


Sorry if my photography is of its usual abysmal standard. Of course, this does not prove that the larger, fixed corers were not also intended to be portable but I now think they are more likely to have been kept at home.

Incidentally, I might add a bit about a possible maker for my original corer, marked IP. Grimwade shows an IP mark for James Perry, a hilt maker. It is not an exact match but it occurs to me that a hilt maker might well have made this sort of item as a sideline. Just a thought.

[This message has been edited by agphile (edited 04-08-2017).]

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asheland

Posts: 856
Registered: Nov 2003

iconnumber posted 04-10-2017 10:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for asheland     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interesting piece. I need an example now. smile

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