FUNCTIONAL SERVE-WARE IN OUR LIVES ©       

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Did your family have special serving dishes saved for holiday and company dinners? Do you still use them? I still use some of my mother’s favorite serve-ware;  but only what doesn’t require a lot of maintenance.

I haven’t used her silver well and tree platter in years!   Traditional serving wares were classic, utilitarian shapes sold in silver departments of retail stores.

Even before the price of silver escalated, 20th Century consumers
wanted metal serve-ware requiring less maintenance. 
This brought
new vitality to the design and production of both traditional and
contemporary wares made in a variety of alloys including: sterling
silver, silver plate, brass, copper, pewter, stainless steel, tin and
polished aluminum. All shapes and styles can be made in every metal.

These photographs are to illustrate their function—not their style.

Coffee and tea ware:
pewter coffee pot

Ceremonial aspects are heightened
when pouring from a burnished metal pot.

This coffee and tea pot are made of pewter which —like all metal—gets very hot. The wood handles perform as a heat breaker.

Coffee and tea pots can be similar in shape to each other— or very different.  To prevent heat from damaging table tops, some pots are footed and some have rounded pedestal bases.

Western tea pot shapes were derived from classic Oriental tea pots which had round bowls —the better to allow brewed tea leaves to settle in the bottom—and highly placed spouts—the better to keep tea leaves from being poured into the teacup.

When explorers brought coffee to Europe from South America, spouts were added to ale tankards to use as coffee pots—and many of today’s coffee pots remain similarly shaped.  Cream pitchers and sugar bowls usually repeat the shape of either the coffee or tea pot.

Optional coffee and tea service pieces:
Hot water kettles with spigots are meant to add hot water to coffee or tea.
Waste bowls hold the dregs from one’s tea cup before refilling.

Trays/Waiters:

pewter tray
Trays serve hors d’ouvres, cookies, sandwiches, beverages and tea ware.
This hand-hammered pewter tray features hand-crafted handles.

 Bowls:

pewter centepiece bowl with grapefruit
All shapes of bowls—serve bon-bons, flowers, breads or fruit.

This bowl is hand hammered pewter.

Vegetable dishes:

stainless seel veg dish

Because metal retains heat, metal serving dishes are excellent for serving hot vegetables. Covers of  vegetable dishes can usually be inverted to perform as a second dish. This stainless steel vegetable dish has a highly polished rim.

Meat platters:

stainless steel meat platter
Flat platters, also called trenchers, are for serving hot or cold meats.

This platter is stainless steel.

silver well and tree

Well & tree platters are for hot meats.
The ‘tree’ allows meat juices to flow into the well from which they’re ladled.
This hand-hammered platter is silver plated nickel-silver.

Buffet Service:

buffet dishes

There is an endless variety of serve-ware buffet dishes.
These silver holders have oven-to-table porcelain cookware liners.

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Supper platters have separate compartments for meat and vegetables.
Rechaud dishes have cookware liners sitting above a water-base kept hot by alcohol burners.

Sauce dishes:

sauce dish

   This easy to maintain sauce boat is stainless steel.

Silver sauce dishes must be washed immediately to avoid pitting from salty sauces, gravies and mayonnaise.

Candle holders:

candlesticks

Metal candle holders must be stable.

As shown, many are weighted  for stability.

blog candlestick
This candlestick was handled vigorously and the metal twisted.

Candlesticks range in height from very low to very tall.  Some manufacturers thread the inside of metal candle cups so candle-holding-arms can be added to create candelabra.

blog candelabra

Threaded components add versatility of height and candle capacity.

Ice/ Champagne Buckets:

Metal also retains cold —-
making it excellent as a container for ice, wine and champagne.

Pitchers:

large pitcher
This silver-plated pitcher is hand-hammered.
Pitchers  serve endlessly for beverages and flowers.

Goblets and glasses:

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Silver drink ware has been used for centuries.
These silver-plated glasses feature hand-crafted repoussé designs.
If anyone claims they “taste silver”, they’re actually tasting tarnish.
Untarnished silver has no taste. 

Pat Breen: EYEWITNESS TO QUALITY

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