The word ‘salver’ is derived from the Latin ‘salvare’ meaning ‘to preserve or save’.
Originally the use of a salver in medieval times (400 – 1400 AD) signified that the food or drink served from it had been tested for poison, and the intended recipient, often royalty would therefore be ‘saved’.
Salvers are flat, handle-less trays or platters which may be circular or rectangular, or less commonly, octagonal in form. Salvers may be supported by a central foot, three or four individual feet or have a flat base. (Trays of a similar design, but with a diameter of less than 25cm/6” are usually know as waiters). Salvers were used to present food and drink in a more ceremonial fashion at social gatherings.
In the mid 1600’s, silver salvers were fashioned with a broad rim, often decorated to match an accompanying cup. Over time, such items became separated, and salvers became individual pieces in their own right.
By the mid 1700’s salvers became part of tea equipage as tea drinking became fashionable. It was around this time that hexafoil or octafoil salvers with applied gadrooned borders appeared.