Sunday, December 4, 2011

To Serve and Project: A Silver Toast Rack, 1892

The Victoria & Albert Museum
I love toast racks and am often saddened when I see them in antique stores labeled as letter holders or napkin holders. Now, I confess that I use a silver toast rack to hold letters because I don’t have a lot of formal toast needs, but at least I know what it is! Here, we see a toast rack, which is obviously intended for holding slices of toasted bread on the breakfast, tea or dinner table. They have been used in Britain since the late Eighteenth Century.

The making of toast was taken very seriously. In 1861 Mrs Beeton, the famed cook and home economist advised: "Never use new bread for making any kind of toast, as it eats heavy, and, besides is very extravagant. Procure a loaf of household bread about two days old; cut off as many slices as may be required, not quite ¼ in thickness; turn off the crusts and ragged edges, put the bread on a toasting fork and hold it before a very clear fire.”

This particular toast rack was manufactured by William R. Deykin & Sons of Birmingham.

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