Fine dining is as much about culture as it is about food, and we have practical items to assist us at our dining tables. Among these items are napkin rings, knife rests, salt dips, and marrow scoops. These dining “tools” are unique and beautiful objects. Many of these dining-related objects have lasted generations. They are sometimes used at meals on special occasions, and many people still use them everyday. Thanksgiving Day is just one of these occasions. Tradition and table etiquette is an art and Holiday table-setting is an exciting time for vintage and antique lovers and collectors.
The napkin ring (sometimes called a serviette ring) is a simple ring. Napkin rings may take any shape or motif. They sometimes have engraved on them the name or initials of their owner. They are sometimes given as christening presents or as gifts at weddings and anniversaries. In the 19th century, the French middle class popularized napkin rings in Europe. Many rings were made of silver or silver plate, but others were made of bone, wood, pearl embroidery, porcelain, glass, and various materials. In the 20th century, they were made of newly invented materials such as Bakelite. Figural napkin rings are loads of fun and usually the most ornate that you will find.
Knife rests were used by early 18th century. They were invented to save the tablecloth from being stained by cooking juices and fluids. They were developed in sets. In the Victorian era, they were made of a wide variety of materials, varying in design and motif. Some were made of costly materials, including gold, silver, mother of pearl, and ivory. The French popularized knife rests, known as porte-couteaux. Knife rests were used at the table during the first half of the twentieth century, especially by the upper classes. Knife rests now are purchased as collector’s items.
The salt dip (also called a salt or a salt cellar) is an item of tableware used to hold salt. It can be either lidded or open, and come in sizes, ranging from large shared bowls to small individual dishes. Salt dips may be simple to ornate, and they are made of various materials, including glass and ceramic, metals, wood, ivory, and plastic.
Bone marrow of animals has been consumed by humans as food or as a delicacy. European diners in the 18th century often used a marrow scoop (or marrow spoon) as a table implement for removing marrow from a bone. Marrow scoops were often made of silver and they now are chiefly purchased as collector’s items but they are also available now in ‘hipster’ restaurants. Try one – you will be refined and hip at the same time!
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