All Is Revealed

Well not all but ……

I know you were just sitting on the edges of your seats waiting to find out what those odd objects were that I pulled out, polished, and put back away, were and what they were used for.

Woody in Ohio came up with the answers to both, closely followed by Old Lurker who was right about one. Over at FaceBook Simonetta showed up in third place.

Back in the days before it became Disneyland Harrod’s was a very classy store and sold many unusual and interesting things (sort of the way Neiman-Marcus use to be). And this was particularly true at Christmas in their Food Halls. One Christmas I was in London shopping – as I did in those days – and came across their Baby Stilton. Just the thing for a Stilton lover who could not afford nor had the need for the full 10lb wheel. So a tradition was begun. The next year just before Christmas the ever thoughtful Uncle Pervy*, presented me with this Stilton Cheese scoop on my Birthday. Sadly the traditions vanished when Harrod’s was sold to some type who turned it into an amusement park and they ceased to be providers of these delicious rounds of blue cheese goodness. That and I stopped going to London to do Christmas shopping because it was too damned expensive.

*It should be mentioned that Uncle Pervy’s doesn’t remember this kind gift at all.

It is suggested that sardines seldom graced the breakfast buffet in the homes of the quality except perhaps in the staff kitchen. They did however appear on the morning tables of good solid upper-middle class homes as a staple to be replaced with finnan haddie only on high days and holidays. And because it was served there had to be a serving utensil for it: the sardine fork. The tines were blunted so as not to pierce the delicate flesh. This would have been part of a set including a knife that was smaller in size than the standard fish knives shown yesterday.

The word for May 22nd is:
Sardine /särˈdēn/: [1. noun 2. verb]
1. A young pilchard or other young or small herring-like fish.
2. To pack in closely together
Late Middle English: from French, or from Latin sardina, from sarda, from Greek, probably from Sardō ‘Sardinia’.

Odds and Sods Around Our House

In a previous post I mentioned all those one of ingredients or kitchen utensils that were bought for a particular recipe or dinner never to be used again. The same thing applies to a few items of silverware that we have safely stored in the sideboard should they ever be required again. I unearthed a few of them earlier today, brought them into the sunlight, polished them and present them as definitive odds and sods!

Before Downtown Abbey or whatever it was called we were all caught up in the Edwardiana of Upstairs Downstairs. Should my faithful reader not be familiar with that programme it was an early big-house-servants-masters series without the glitzy production values but far better written than Baron Fellowes tepid soap opera. It quite captured the fancy of North American TV audiences between 1971 and 1975 and helped fill the coffers at PBS stations across North America come pledge time.

I was an ardent fan and never missed an episode on a Sunday night. A bit of an industry built up around it. I had a cookbook that purported to be written by Mrs Bridges (Angela Baddeley), the cook at Number 165 Eaton Place. There was also a journal by Mr Hudson (Gordon Jackson), the butler that included a useful list of all the silverware needed for a proper nine course dinner should you be required to provide sustenance for Edward VII as he ran between court and chorus girl. I am please to say we have a few of the requisites! With the exception of one special piece just where or why we acquired them I don’t know.

This set is just the thing for serving the Dover sole you are having as your fish course. The blades and tines are silver plate and lest my faithful reader concern themselves the handles are made of celluloid not ivory. The knife is hallmarked and from that it is possible to determine the purity of the silver, the manufacturer of the piece, and sometimes even the date it was made. The hallmark EP on the verso of the fish knife blade indicates that this two items are silver plate. I’ve been able to determine they are Sheffield silver and the markings indicated that they are Sheffield from the Atkin Brothers: HA, EA and FA are Harry, Edward & Frank Atkin. The style of the HA suggests a date between 1901 and 1917.

This slightly more elaborate fish knife was again part of a larger serving set. I am still trying to decipher the hallmark but it would appear to come from the James Deakin & Sons London workshop. But I will try and figure out the other markings as of course now I have started down a rabbit hole.

The next piece bears no hallmark but is deeply treasured because it was a birthday gift from Nick and Nora’s Uncle Pervy almost forty years ago. And it is the one odd and sod of this lot that has actually been used.

Can my faithful reader guess what it is and what it is used for?

Of course when you were serving your fresh fruit course a pair of grape shears are a definite requirement. Again we are looking at silver plate and the hallmark indicates them as a production of the Rogers Brothers workshop part of the International Silver cartel. Created in 1898 it initially comprised of 14 silver studios of which Rogers was the largest. I will have to investigate the other markings a little more closely to see if it will reveal dates as the style is quite modern. And as International Silver still exists quite possibly they are of a recent vintage.

And here’s another “what the hell is that for?” item.

Again there are no markings but I am assuming this little five inch fork is silver plate. Because of its size I am guessing it was used at a breakfast buffet rather than a grand dinner party. I leave it up to you, faithful reader, to tell me what purpose, or food, it served.

Now that they are newly shining I hate to put them back in the sideboard drawer but chances of a dinner that will require them are very slim.

The word for May 20th is:
Celluloid \ˈsel-yə-ˌlȯid\ [noun]
1. A tough flammable thermoplastic composed essentially of cellulose nitrate and camphor.
2. A motion-picture film
Mid 19th century (1855) English: from French, from cellule ‘small cell’ + -oid (to form noun denoting form or resemblance).

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