Approaching the 18th century, punch became a very popular beverage. Punch became a ceremonial event in itself with recipes being closely guarded and making/ serving of it was almost ritualistic. The importance given to punch meant that only finely crafted materials would suffice; enter the silversmiths.
The definition of a punch ladle saw several different iterations and styles, making them relatively easy to acquire to today’s collector. Many early examples have handles crafted with ivory or fruitwood, and later silver-mounted whalebone became more popular. In the 17th and 18th centuries, punch ladles had bowls crafted using heavy hammered silver sheet. Most punch ladles took the form of deeply-moulded circles, however oval examples can still be found. Goose egg ladles – so named for the shape of their ladles – are harder to come by, generally taking a higher price than other examples.
Later, ladle bowls were made with thinner silver, frequently they required fluting to add strength to the joint between the bowl and handle. In the 1740s, the latest punch ladle trend was nautilus-shaped bowls, sometimes accented with chasing typical of the Rococo period.
Towards the end of the 18th century, punch went out of fashion, replaced by toddy. A much stronger beverage made with sweetened and diluted spirits, toddy was the go-to elegant drink to serve at social gatherings. Smaller ladles were required to compensate for the strength of toddy.
Today, both punch and toddy ladles are excellent gifts and collectables. While toddy has fallen to the wayside, punch still survives as a popular party drink.