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.

Tom Samuel gets creative

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

A breadboard dating from the 1990s especially designed and carved by master cabinet-maker Tom Samuel featuring a modern take on linen-fold, the deeply carved swathe of radiating fabric bunching in an off-centre whorl.

Sycamore, 1990s, 13″

http://www.tomsamuel.co.uk/

Winchester upcycles Norman timber

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

A lacquered board with “Manners makyth man”, the motto of New College Oxford (1379), Winchester College (1382) and William of Wykeham (1324-1404), Bishop of Winchester (1366-1404), who founded them. The border is topped by the personal coat of arms of William of Wykeham amid lush acanthus leaves, which both establishments share.

Winchester College describes it thus: ‘argent two chevrons sable between three roses gules seeded or, barbed vert.’ The central silver inlay depicts a hircocervus, a mythical beast with Greek origins, which John Hoskins adapted to depict the many virtues of a perfect servant in 1579. It was located outside the kitchens of Winchester College. A verse accompanied the wall-painting translated from the Latin:

A trusty servant’s picture would you see,
This figure well survey, who’ever you be.
The porker’s snout not nice in diet shows;
The padlock shut, no secret he’ll disclose;
Patient, to angry lords the ass gives ear;
Swiftness on errand, the stag’s feet declare;
Laden his left hand, apt to labour saith;
The coat his neatness; the open hand his faith;
Girt with his sword, his shield upon his arm,
Himself and master he’ll protect from harm.
(Howard Staunton, The Great Schools of England (Shrahan, 1869)

Oak, 12″, Sheffield, 1907

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.