Punch cartoon

The_Antique_Breadboard_Museum_Carving_Victorian_Wooden_Bread_Punch

A Punch cartoon from 1880 depicting a middle-class mother and son discussing the carved Gothic lettering on a breadboard.
“Well Austin, can you read that?”
“No, Mama.”
“Well it is rather difficult! Those are Old English letters.”
“Are they? Then no wonder the Ancient Britons couldn’t read or write!”

Mr Andre Gailani of Punch kindly referred to the magazine’s archives and explains how the cartoon was probably referring to political efforts to solve mass illiteracy: 

‘The year the cartoon was published was 1880, and in that year a new version of the Education Act (first introduced in 1870) came into force, which henceforth made it compulsory for children to attend school from the age of 5 to 10. The cartoonist du Maurier often added social/ political commentary to his cartoons, specifically in the way it affected the middle classes.’

Jewish Challah Breadboard

TAKEN FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE ANTIQUE BREADBOARD MUSEUM, PUTNEY:

A Jewish Challah board consisting of a silver-plated tray and cherry or olive wood insert, the lower Hebrew translating as ‘Jerusalem’ and the inscription along the top as: ‘Who brings forth bread from the earth’ (ha-motzi lechem min ha-aretz) words which are part of the standard prayer said over bread: ‘Blessed are You, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth’ (baruch ata adonai, eloheinu melech ha-olam, ha-motzi lechem min ha-aretz).

1900s, 12”. It is accompanied by a knife.

Translation courtesy of Ernest Rubinstein.

Happy Hollydays!

TAKEN FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE ANTIQUE BREADBOARD MUSEUM, PUTNEY:

A rare holly breadboard with delicately carved berries, wheat and barley ears, perfect for gracing the Christmas dinner table. Noticeable is the luxurious deep patina and numerous knife marks on the under-side, either to spare the carving or while doubling as a kitchen chopping board.

1800s, Sycamore, 13″

The trencher, ancestor of the breadboard

TAKEN FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE ANTIQUE BREADBOARD MUSEUM, PUTNEY:

A well-worn trencher or wooden plate, used on a daily basis by rich and poor alike from the 15th century until the arrival of chinaware. Trenchers began as flat pieces of wood, improved designs appearing later with indents, the larger to retain the juices and the smaller for salt. The latter would suggest it may have been used in a wealthy household as salt was a precious commodity. The town of Abingdon has a rare collection of over 100 trenchers, and the inventories to prove their date of purchase, 1556, for official dinners to entertain local dignitaries. The Mary Rose has dredged up 6 examples, one carved with a rough zig-zag pattern, possibly by one of the crew.

https://ehive.com/account/4128/object/117805
http://www.maryrose.org/fotofriday/

Interestingly they have made a come-back in gastro-pubs and restaurants serving traditional English food, the wood being sourced from South East Asia as England no longer has sycamores old enough to make a standard 12″ plate.

Great Scott!

A photograph from Scott’s ‘British Antarctic Expedition’ of 1910-13 showing Dr Wilson, Lt Bowers and Apsley Cherry-Garrard having a meal on their return from a winter trip to Cape Crozier, August 1st 1911.
Extraordinary though it may seem, a breadboard is visible among their tableware. Further inquiries have established that the board is no longer among the Scott Polar Research Institute collection, nor is it in the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust, Christchurch, New Zealand where many of the remaining items from the hut have been stored.

Diana Pope kindly tracked down Lizzie Meek of the AHT who has painstakingly catalogued every object and suggested that ‘it is highly likely it got burnt on the stove for fuel by the Ross Sea Party, as it is a very conveniently stove-sized piece of wood, and they ran out of coal and had to switch to using other materials including seal blubber.’ Photograph courtesy of the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge.

http://www.spri.cam.ac.uk/
http://www.nzaht.org/

Photographer: Ponting, Herbert (1870-1935) 
Expedition: British Antarctic Expedition 1910-13 
Date: 1911