During the 17th and 18th centuries, porringers of all sizes were used within homes throughout England and Europe. They were used as an all-purpose bowl for an individual family member. For those families who could not afford silver porringers other materials were used. Pewter, wood and ceramic versions all served as cheaper alternatives to silver. Their handles would have been crafted in either a ‘C’ or ‘S’ form. Examples of both forms can be found from the 17th century. Some types even incorporated handles in the shape of a large ‘C’ and the top and a smaller ‘c’ below.
During the Stuart period porringers became to be made with rich ornamentation. It is likely that silversmiths took great influence from glass blowers at this time. Glass blowing in Murano (an island near Venice, Italy) for example was highly eminent during this period. This resulted in porringers with bead like ornamentation.
The porringer eventually started to be obscured by other silver items when the Queen Anne style was dominant (1702-1714). The tureen, the punch bowl, and tea related items came into their prime at this point.
Today, antique silver porringers can be used in various ways. Whether they are cherished as ornamental pieces, utilised and filled with food as they were originally intended or gifted as a christening / wedding present, they still retain their place within any collection of silver hollowware.