Category Archives: Antiques

Edwardian Kitchen Wizardry

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you’ll usually catch me tweeting about food or snapping pictures of my latest culinary masterpiece. When I am not adding books to my research library, I am stuffing my kitchen with as many appliances and utensils as possible. In series’ three and four of Downton Abbey (the latter recently concluded in the UK and to hit the US in January!), the progression of time downstairs has been shown through newfangled kitchen appliances. Though cooking in the early 20th century remained as time consuming as in the 19th century, there were a number of inventions–like electric toasters–that sped up the process and made getting food on the table much easier to manage (this was important after the war, when servants were expensive and difficult to come by). According to Mrs. Beeton’s specifications, the very best houses could be expected to spend upwards £100 (more than a cook or chef’s annual salary) to outfit a kitchen to its fullest degree!

chafing dish, chafing dish stand and lamp, double boiler of chafing dish, jelly mould, meat clice, whisk, chafing dish complete, colander, dutch oven, spice box

tart pans, patty pans, raised pie mould, paste jagger, fancy vegetable cutters and case, vegetable scoops, paste board and pin, plain charlotte pudding mould, gridion, mangle or wringer, tin-lined wicker knife basket, coffee canister, bread grater

bread cutter, coffee roaster, carpet sweeper, wringer and mangle, knife cleaner, spice box

Absinthiana – Compliments from the Green Fairy

Absinthe Spoons

Absinthe Spoons

Absinthe spoons (or absinthiana) are one of those “lost” habits that take us back to more glamorous eras. No matter if you are a fan of the drink or not, you can see how these spoons are small pieces of art just by themselves.

These spoons were placed on top of the glasses, and they held a cube of sugar. This way people could pour the drink over it and the sugar would slowly melt into the absinthe, taking away most of its bitterness. The drink would lose most of its green transparency and become much more opaque.

Although some of the designs were used to promote a certain shop or place (as the Eiffel Tower, for example), many of them had floral or natural motifs. This happened because the drink was also known as “Green Fairy” (or “Green Muse” to some with more bohemian traits). Some spoons resembled more mere leaves than cutlery itself.

When the Prohibition came about these artifacts were forbidden, for obvious reasons. These antiques can now be worth hundreds of dollars, and are fine examples of more exquisite times. I leave you with a gallery with several examples for your inspiration.

 

An Edwardian Drinks Cabinet

Mappin & Webb drinks cabinet

It isn’t easy to find an Edwardian drinks cabinet, so this one, labeled with the name of a well-known English company, Mappin & Webb, brought $7,380 at Neal Auction Co. in New Orleans. Inside the top section were an ice bucket, cocktail shaker, decanters, glasses and other utensils. Bottles were behind the lower cabinet doors.

Drinks before or after dinner have been part of the ritual of dining in America since the 1800s. By then, the wealthy lived in houses that had a dining room, living room and perhaps a parlor or library.

Men and women enjoyed “4 o’clock tea” during Victorian times, but it was usually a ladies’ get-together. After a dinner party, however, it was customary for the men to go to the library for brandy and cigars.

In the 1700s, alcoholic drinks were served to everyone. It was the safest thing to drink; clean water was not always available.

In the years since, there have been times when drinking was an important part of social events and times when it was illegal.

Through all of these years, furniture, decanters, glasses and other things were made to use when serving drinks.

Some dining-room sideboards in the early 1800s had a closed section deep enough to hold a bottle of wine or brandy to serve at dinner. In Victorian times, bottles and glasses often were kept on a tabletop or inside a closed cabinet.

Closed cabinets with hidden sections for bottles and glasses were popular after 1900. They often were made in a formal style from an earlier period. The end of Prohibition in 1933 brought whiskey out of hiding and back onto the table.

By the 1950s, drinks often were served from a built-in bar in the recreation room. [Source]

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