Kitchen & dining antiques: culinary and food-related articles

Culinary is a useful word. It pulls together everything connected with food (and drink) preparation, storage, serving and eating. So the “kitchen” articles here at cover a range of antique culinary items from elegant to basic. Antique, vintage, simple, stylish, as the tagline says.

Info on dainty silver marrow spoons sits alongside a post about a home-made wooden butter worker in a farm kitchen. The only rule for this category is that topics have a connection with food as well as something to do with home life in the past. Click ‘previous entries’ at the bottom of the page to find links to more culinary-themed articles.

If there’s a topic you’d like me to research and write about, please do say so in a comment on a relevant article or email with a suggestion. (See “about” page for contact details.) Or you could try looking through this list of sites about kitchen antiques and historic food utensils.

Tea caddies

fruit tea caddy

Tea first arrived in Europe in 1610, when Dutch traders brought some back from Asia to the Netherlands. It reached England in the 1640s and soon became a fashionable drink in London, but it was not something you made at home. If you wanted to drink it in private you had to order a cup […]

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Hanging salt boxes

antique wooden hanging salt box

Hanging salt boxes used to be taken for granted in kitchens throughout northern Europe and colonial America. There they were, on the wall next to where you cooked. The pictures on this page are all European, but salt boxes were an essential part of life for settlers in North America too. They pounded salt lumps […]

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Caddy spoons

caddy spoon

If you have a nice tea caddy, you may also want a caddy spoon. In the early years of tea drinking in Europe and America, either the lid of the caddy was used for measuring out tea leaves, or a long-handled strainer spoon, but in the 1760s people started to use special silver spoons instead, […]

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Toby jugs – comic or commonplace, English or not?

Toby jug

Toby jugs portray a character whose story is rather unclear. He reminds some people of Shakespeare’s jovial, disreputable Toby Belch, and he very likely has something to do with an old song about Toby Fillpot. Dear Tom, this brown jug that now foams with mild ale, (In which I will drink to sweet Nan of […]

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Historic kitchens – visiting with eyes wide open

kitchen 1500s England

Whenever I travel I look out for historic houses, especially if they have kitchens worth visiting, and enjoy picking out bits and pieces for a closer look. And yet the room often isn’t the way it would have looked at any time in its life. The picture above is of a 16th century English manor […]

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Cornishware: what did people like about it?

Cornish ware

Why did Cornishware appeal to people in its early days? Now we think of it as a British “design classic”, collected above all for its distinctive broad blue and white stripes, the core pattern of the original TG Green Cornish Kitchen Ware range. Some collectors also like less common variations: black stripes, or a storage […]

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The White Frost Refrigerator: unique 100-year-old icebox

white frost refrigerator

Most iceboxes looked like plain wooden cabinets in the early 1900s. Without electric refrigeration, they were fitted inside with a space for  ice, which had to be topped up regularly to keep food cool and fresh. Keeping the butter hard, the milk and cream sweet, and the meat from spoiling, is a part of the […]

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Marrow scoops, spoons & table manners

silver marrow scoop spoons

A silver marrow scoop is an elegant solution to a problem most of us don’t have today. How can you get the tasty marrow out of meat bones without abandoning your table manners? Upper class diners adopted new rules of etiquette during the 1600s. Forks appeared on posh tables to help people eat with a […]

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Household expenses for a “middling” 18th century family

18th century family budget

What could you afford if you were of “middling station” in England in the 1760s and 1770s? You would have plenty of beer, ale, meat, and soap, but no wine, according to a detailed budget in Madam (Mary) Johnson’s book on household management. She suggests the mistress of her middle class home will spend £16 […]

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Mrs. Beeton’s pastry essentials

pastry mold patty pans

Mrs. Beeton knew it took time to learn how to make good pastry, which she called paste. …the art of paste requires much practice, dexterity and skill… Isabella Beeton, 1861 Her main tips are: Pastry-making utensils must be kept scrupulously clean and not used for anything else. Use a light touch with cool hands and […]

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