History of Victorian Silver Plate Bride's Cake Baskets: Silver cake, fruit or brides (bride's) baskets came into fashion late in the 18th century and experienced their greatest popularity during the first half of the 19th century. These hollowware forms were used to hold carefully arranged fruits or cakes.
Great ceremony often accompanied the display and use of these silver and silver plated cake or fruit baskets, and the delicacies they contained. Most American silver cake baskets and compotes had solid bodies, but a few were made of open, interlaced wirework.
As the close of the 19th century drew near, large numbers of these dishes were made with beautiful multi-colored, ruffled glass bowls. As the century progressed, these amenities grew more elaborate, often having an abundance of naturalistic or stylized ornament added to a complex shape. Many incorporated multi-colored ruffled glass baskets for even greater elegance.
The Victorian dining room, the main room used for many social occasions, was often used for the conspicuous display of wealth through luxurious table objects. Principal among these displays of wealth was the silver cake or fruit basket, always replete with food.
Decorative piercing on early silver was relatively uncommon because each hole had to be laboriously cut out by hand using a tiny jeweler’s saw. Thus, piercing was usually employed only when necessary. The most desirable pieces are elaborately pierced, marked by a well-known and respected silver company and of substantial weight.
Cake baskets are very elegant additions to dining-room silver and remain so today. The best silverplate baskets are of substantial weight, often with profuse foliate or animal ornamentation and with a superior finish.
Bonbon dishes were a form which developed in the 1890's in American silverplate. Even in less opulent households, where the sweetmeat course might be served in the dining room, the silver sweetmeat basket was much in demand, for the company moved to the drawing-room after dinner and was served with wine and baskets of nuts and raisins and other confectionary delights.
History of the Silver Gravy Boat and Sauce Boat: During the elaborate Victorian dinner, many courses called for gravy or sauce. The silversmith made a variety of shapes and forms designed to serve all types of gravies and sauces. The typical silver and silverplate gravy boat can be described as an elongated pitcher with a handle.
Most silver plated gravy boats have a separate tray, but many are simply one-piece, a tray and pitcher either molded or soldered together. Each style has its advantages. Sauce boats are smaller than gravy boats.
Many boats originally had a matching gravy or sauce ladle, depending upon the vessel and the contents that it was to serve. Some boats have feet in the form of shells or scrolls, while other stand on a simple applied foot or pedestal base.
A silver or silverplate meat platter typically refers to a presentation of cold or hot meats on a platter from which diners can serve themselves. In some cases, the meats served on a platter may be thinly sliced cold cuts intended for sandwiches, while in other cases the meats may be prepared and presented hot from the oven, ready for carving or slicing.
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