Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: A Sheffield Silver Salver, 18th Century

Click on image to enlarge.

Silver Salver
Sheffield, 1740-1780
The Victoria & Albert Museum

In the Eighteenth Century, small silver salvers (wee trays with no handles) were used for a variety of purposes such as presenting a glass or small object to the master of the house. However, by the mid Eighteenth Century, salvers were mostly used to carry letters, cards or newspapers. For a servant to hand something directly to the master of the house was considered very bad form, so, the silver salver served as a handy go-between.

Salvers were usually round or slightly oval. Every so often, they were made in a square or polygonal form, often with rounded corners. They, more often than not, featured little silver feeties upon which the tray could rest when left upon a flat surface such as a center table or sideboard.

This circular example with three feet is made in Sheffield plate—coated with silver on both sides, but with the upper layer being thicker to better withstand the wear that the top of the object would receive. Furthermore, thicker silver on the top surface allowed sufficient material for a coat of arms or monogram to be engraved without exposing the base metal of the copper core. Such salvers were typically engraved. This one, for example, has been adorned with a coat of arms and branches of laurel and palm. This salver is an excellent example of the type of salvers made in Sheffield between 1740 and 1780.

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