Sitting on the table alongside the warm muffin dish might also have been a “muffineer,” a gleaming silver container standing 6 to 8 inches tall, shaped rather like a pepper pot, and used for shaking sugar or a mixture of cinnamon and sugar onto hot buttered toast or muffins. Such shakers date back to the 16th century and were designed for salt, sugar, spices, and other powders. The piercings in the dome were often arranged as beautifully proportioned fleur-de-lis, bands of laurel, or swirling scrolls in elaborate floral and foliage designs. They became known as muffineers in the 1800s, when the irresistibly aromatic mix of cinnamon and sugar was dusted over hot buttered toast or muffins at the tea table.
Cakes, scones, and small pastries are usually presented on three-tiered cake stands today, but Victorian and Edwardian tea tables often included pierced silver baskets among the handsome tea wares. These baskets, originally made by hand during the late 16th century, became popular during the 1800s for serving bread, fruit, or sweetmeats.
As afternoon tea became a regular part of the social whirl in grand houses, these beautiful containers sat on sideboards and tea tables displaying smaller items such as scones, biscuits, small cakes, and pastries. Baskets made in the 18th century were round or oval with handles for lifting positioned at each end. By the 1750s, a hinged handle of twisted, interlaced, filigreed, or engraved silver looped up and over the basket.