William & Mary Silver Nutmeg Grater


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Object Description

A charming little late 17th century silver nutmeg grater of teardrop form, one side fitted with a serrated rasp. Each side has a hinged lid with stand-away hinge. Both covers are hand engraved with simple foliate decoration.

Weight 29 grams, 0.9 troy ounce.
Height 2.5 cm. Top 3.7 x 2.9 cm.
Total spread across the covers 8.3cm.
Unmarked silver.
Circa 1690.

Marks. Unmarked silver. This design dates to the late 17th century circa 1690. The earliest examples were unmarked or makers mark only.

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Object History

Sold Tessiers 12th June 1985 – see receipt

Object Literature

Prior to the development of the nutmeg grater box in circa 1670, nutmeg was grated at the table using a steel grater. Early nutmeg graters were either heart shaped or teardrop form, of small size just large enough to contain a nutmeg. The box had two hinged lids, top and bottom, one side with the steel grater, the other containing the grated spice. Other early forms include the tubular variety with pull off lid and silver sleeve, and the rare silver mounted cowrie shell with strapwork mounted grater.

During the 18th century designs progressed to include both functional and very charming novelty and decorative varieties.

The use and manufacture of nutmeg graters was circa 1650-1865 (ref. Eric Delieb “Investing in Silver”) but the earliest fully marked boxes didn’t arrive before circa 1697. The nutmeg originated from the Indies and is mentioned in early literature as a fumigation against the plague.

Object Condition

The silver box is in very good condition. Both hinges work well.

Object Details

Dealer Opening Times

By appointment only.

Dealer Contact

+44 (0)207 288 1939
+44 (0)7904 297419

Dealer Location

Vault 31-32
The London Silver Vaults
53-64 Chancery Lane
London WC2A 1QS

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