In some of my earlier blogs I have talked about discoveries in charity shops. Well the other day I found something else.
Hanging in the widow of a small shop was a rather battered ladle, even in the poor light of the window I could see that the bowl was of copper and it was obviously of some age. I didn’t even bother examining it closely but happily paid the two pounds requested.
Back home, and after a vigorous polishing, I realised it would make an excellent addition to my collection of objects that illustrate Regency and Victorian life. The bowl is of a heavy gauge copper, whilst the handle is of iron. The detailing of the hook at the end is slightly asymmetrical which would suggest it was hand forged. All this makes me think the ladle is of some age, nineteenth or even eighteenth century.
Cleaning revealed that the bowl showed signs of tinning, covering copper in tin was essential when cooking as copper salts could leach into the food and poison it. Modern copper vessels are now coated in steel as tin was a soft metal and could easily be worn away in use (that was one reason why wooden spoons were so popular). Copper vessels had to be re-tinned at regular intervals, and letters and diaries often mention having to send pots and pans to be tinned, and complaining of the expense.
So if the food was cooked using poisonous implements, and contained poisonous ingredients such as Laurel, and was served on lead-rich pewter plates it is a wonder that our ancestors survived the eighteenth century.