AC Silver is delighted to offer for sale a fine range of silver ladles, including sterling silver soup, sauce, toddy and punch ladles.
This refined collection of silver ladles features pieces from all over the world, with pieces crafted during the Georgian, the Victorian and Edwardian eras, as well as some twentieth century vintage items.
Ladles are an ancient utensil that have been used as far back as Ancient Greece. Intended to serve liquid foods like soup, stews, and broths, ladles feature a bowl at the end of an elongated handle. Even the earliest ladles sometimes featured curved lips at the brim of the bowl, allowing for easier pouring and serving. Many of the earliest ladles were carved from hollowed-out gourds. They were quickly crafted from clay and wood.
Ladles can even hold cultural significance. In Japan, for example, a bamboo ladle called a hishaku is traditionally used in temples. At the temple entrance, water wells with hishakus allow people to wash their hands and symbolically cleanse their spirits before entering the temple. They are also used in tea ceremonies, known as sadō, as part of the serving process. In the West, the most valued and important ladles were crafted from metal.
Sterling silver was a popular material for the most luxurious ladles in most of Western Europe. Unlike in Japan, these ladles were highly decorative. The bowls were popularly decorated with shell patterns, and the handles were incredibly ornate. Scrolling leaf accents and cartouche decoration were used in many of the most luxurious ladles.
Today, antique silver ladles are a popular item among many collectors. Items created by favoured makers like Paul Storr or Chawner & Co are particularly sought out. Equally, the appeal of the level of decoration in antique silver ladles makes them incredibly popular. Ladles can be used for serving sauces, broths, soups and stews, as they have done for hundreds of years. Some ladles have also been crafted for the purpose of serving drinks.
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.
Toddy is the name given to a drink also called a 'het pint'. Served at Hogmanay, the traditional New Year's celebration in Scotland, toddy is a heady combination of ingredients designed to pack a punch. Its origins extend to the Scandinavian winter solstice. Combining ale, whisky, eggs, sugar, and spice, the drink is heated to create the toddy. It is comparable to mulled cider except significantly stronger.
The toddy ladle was created for use during Hogmanay celebrations. It is smaller in size than the typical punch ladle. Toddy ladles have been crafted from wood, horn, silver, and even whalebone. The bowl section of the ladle is usually very ornate, utilising silver and silver gilt regularly. A lot of toddy ladles have curved lips to either side of the bowl for less spillage during the serving.
Another way of dispensing the toddy it is the toddy lifter, which looks like a small, slender glass decanter with a hole in the bottom. The lifter would be plunged into the toddy until full, with a finger placed over the neck, lifted out and released over the glass.
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.
Silver soup ladles arrived at the same time as the soup tureen in the 1740s. In terms of the style of the soup ladle, this was similar to that of other flatware of that period, however there were some highly elaborate examples made. Those soup ladles with circular bowls are more desirable. Soup ladles were often sold as single items; however, pairs of the same style were also made. They were often also added to more complex canteens of cutlery sets.
The marrow spoon or scoop is a utensil that was used to remove marrow from the bone. During the reign of Queen Anne, marrow was considered quite the delicacy. Therefore, it is in this time that the marrow scoop was at its most popular. At this time, meat was a luxury that only the affluent in society could afford, especially on a regular basis.
During the 1600s, etiquette at dinner parties was becoming more prominent. Forks began to appear on the dining table to aid people when eating – allowing for a less hands-on approach when eating. However, the fork could only do so much. Most importantly, it wasn’t able to take the savoury jelly out of the marrowbones. It was in the 1680s when this problem was remedied with the marrow spoon.