Monday, January 9, 2012
Unusual Artifacts: A Nutmeg Grater, 1690
Here's something quite rare and unusual--as beautiful and useful as the day it was made in 1690. Here we see, from the V&A, a nutmeg grater of an oval cowrie shell mounted in silver, with a hinged grater and plain scroll handle.
The gleaming shell is held in place by a cruciform cage of silver straps. These have raised borders and an escutcheon which is engraved with the initials RB.
When this piece was made in Britain, Nutmeg was an extremely expensive spice, usthe primarily, to season the fashionable drink of punch. Here, the shell was used to catch the nutmeg shavings to ensure nothing of the costle delicacy was lost.