Monday, September 9, 2013

The Home Beautiful: A Silver Cheese Stand, 1760

Silver Cheese Stand
England, 1760
The Victoria & Albert Museum

In the Eighteenth Century, cheese wasn’t just a sandwich’s best friend, it was a course all of it’s own. Actually, it still is—sometimes. But, cheese seems to have lost it’s important role in the culture of food. This dairy product enjoyed a period where it was treated with great respect.

Here’s an example of the care with which cheese was handled. Here, we see, a silver cheese stand or plate which would have been used to serve a large, whole cheese. The cheese would have been placed on the dining table towards the end of the meal, before or in place of the dessert. The cradle shape of this silver vessel held the circular cheese upright as it rested on its side. Cheese plates in silver are very rare as they were usually constructed in wood. In fact, this is one of only four similar plates that have ever been discovered.

This lovely plate of pierced and engraved silver was ordered by Brownlow Cecil, 9th Earl of Exeter (1725-1793), from the London goldsmiths Parker and Wakelin. The cheese plate cost the Earl £37 7s 6d; the engraving of his coat of arms, crests and coronets was an extra 15 shillings. That’s a lot of cheese.

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