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).

Lunedi Lunacy

I’ve heard it said that Upstairs Downstairs was the reason that PBS was so successful back in the ’70s and ’80s. I’m not sure how true that was but I do know that, in my corner of the world, the sophisticated thing to do on a Sunday night was set the channel to WNPE/WNPI, sit back with a sherry and join Alistair Cook for Masterpiece Theater.

This brillant send up by Stanley Baxter, the great Scottish comedian, may only hit home with USDS fans and people who recall the acting gentry of the period – Dame Edith Evans, Sir John Gielgud and Sir Ralph Richardson. But even if you don’t get some of the references Baxter’s playing all the characters is sheer artistic genius. And just think of all the money the BBC saved on actors’ salaries for this one.

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