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.

French Bubble Dish

Taken from the collection of The Antique Breadboard Museum, Putney:

A French bread dish with ‘Donnez-nous notre pain quotidien’ (Give us this day our daily bread) in chunky bubble lettering around the border. The French mostly use dishes or baskets for bread at table because their custom is to present baguettes as pre-cut wedges to accompany the main course and cheese.

In contrast, the Victorians were in the habit of using decorative flat ‘platter’-type boards as they cut the bread at table in front of guests giving them the choice of ‘Crust or crumb?’

Sycamore, 13″, 1900s.

An exercise in Gothic

Taken from the collection of The Antique Breadboard Museum, Putney:

“Take freely and thankfully”, elegantly incised in Gothic lettering with leafy tendrils playfully interspersed between the words. Like the vast majority of bread boards, no evidence of the workshop, carver, date or location is indicated.

Sizeable crack, sycamore, 12″, 1800s.