While combing through vintage
offerings of antique shops, it’s not uncommon to come across silver pieces that
are unique. It may be easy to guess the use of some of these pieces, but the
purpose for others is something of a puzzle. A little investigative work will
solve the mystery.
The lemon fork has three or, less
commonly, two splayed tines and is about the same size as a salad fork. It is
used to serve lemon slices but also for serving sliced fruit, melon balls, and
butter pats. Piercing the slice of lemon releases the juices of the fruit into
the cup of tea.
A bonbon server is usually between
8 and 9 inches long and, as the name implies, is used to serve bonbons or other
small candies. It has a broad bowl and a short handle, often with very ornate
and intricate scenes. Some bonbon servers are designed specifically for special
occasions, such as weddings or funerals.
Developed for serving both fresh
and clotted cream, the cream ladle is a small serving utensil, usually just
under 6 inches in length. It has a helmet-shaped bowl with a single pouring
Often crafted in the shape of the
object that lends its name to the piece, a sugar shell is used for the serving
of granulated sugar. It is commonly the same size as a teaspoon but has a
deeper bowl. Some examples from the 1865–1880 period feature twisted handles in
addition to the scalloped or shell-shaped bowl.
For those delicious, bite-size tea
cakes, there is the petit four server. Its flat, broad, and often slotted scoop
is just perfect for serving elaborately decorated squares of frosted sponge or
These beautifully crafted silver
serving pieces certainly have a utilitarian purpose, but perhaps even more
importantly, each is an aesthetic addition to an elegantly set tea table.