Saturday, 7 December 2013

Tail of a spoon

Having made a series of fruit cakes, I thought it was time for a change. Since we have a squad of squash and a plethora of pumpkins, I looked up a favourite recipe for pumpkin tea bread - a fine squidgy accompaniment for morning coffee or afternoon tea. My version uses a half pint of pumpkin purée, so I attacked a large butternut squash with - a gadget! It's the ideal tool for removing the seeds from a squash or a melon, and it's the only one in the world.

A keen edge

Every day, my parents made one or other of the great (nay, the only) British sauces - gravy and custard. Both require lots of stirring to incorporate a powder into a liquid - flour into stock in the case of gravy, custard powder into milk for the sort of custard my parents made. They always used the same saucepan and spoon. Over the course of fifty years, abrasion wore away the tip of the bowl, leaving a half-moon shaped curved edge as sharp as a razor. It's a perfect fit to the seed pocket of a squash. Thinks: the eroding metal must have been swallowed...

A speedy exit for the squash seeds

On the back of the spoon handle there are two stamps. one says "P.A&S" with a shield bearing a mailed arm holding a pennant; the other says "ASHBERRY".

Mark of Philip Ashberry and Sons, Sheffield.

The spoon is made of EPNS - electro plated nickel silver

These marks indicate that the spoon was made by Philip Ashberry and Sons of Sheffield, now part of the Spear and Jackson group. The P.A&S stamp was used by Ashberry between 1880 and 1935. My Dad would have been 15 years old in 1935. He and Mum were married in 1948 and started married life with a new set of Viners EPNS cutlery. Knowing my Dad, he never wasted anything. Of course he'd use an old spoon to make the gravy! And I used one of the Viners forks to mash the steamed squash. So it goes...

Many thanks to Giorgio B. for this information from his web page BRITISH ELECTROPLATE SILVER AND SILVER PLATE MARKS, which is just one of 1000 pages of A Small Collection of Antique Silver and Objects of vertu, an extremely modest title for an enormous work of detailed research.

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