Even though ladles date to the Roman era and sterling silver flatware was first produced in Sheffield, England in the 1200s, sterling silver ladles did not see widespread use until the mid-18th century, when a companion to the newly embraced- soup tureen was needed. A long, gooseneck-handled spoon with a working end big enough to efficiently fill a soup bowl was an obvious complement.

Like a lot of flatware of the day, sterling silver ladles conformed to the prevailing style. Handles tended to feature the same sorts of shapes and designs as knives, forks, and spoons—from plain Old English to scalloped King’s to handles with beaded borders, which were especially popular during the Victorian Era. Makers included Gorham, Dominick and Haff, Wallace, and Reed and Barton, while patterns ranged from Lancaster to Strasbourg to Hepplewhite.

One type of 18th-century soup ladle that’s especially prized is a ladle from Limerick, Ireland. A Limerick ladle usually has a round, shell-shaped bowl with custom engraving on the handle. For some reason, Limerick ladles whose shell bowls actually resembles shells are less desirable that round ones.

Soup tureens may have provided the initial impetus to create an accompanying ladle, but silversmiths certainly didn't limit themselves to that. It wasn’t long before they were creating smaller ladles for a plethora of other purposes. Toddy ladles were designed to scoop warm servings of hot toddy into cups. Sauce ladles with shorter handles were also produced, as were ladles for serving cream, gravy, and bullion.

Punch ladles were in a class by themselves. Frequently formed from hammered silver coins for the bowls and handles made of carved wood, horn, or whalebone, 18th-century punch ladles were more fragile than other types of flatware, which makes finding one today in good condition a rare event.

At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, artisans influenced by Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts produced similarly styled ladles, as well as other servicing utensils. For Art Nouveau silversmiths, floral and fruit motifs were favorite devices, while Arts and Crafts smiths often hammered their surfaces to create densely indented surfaces, in an effort not to disguise the methods of production. Other designers and manufacturers—from the aforementioned Gorham to Georg Jensen, Tiffany & Co., Unger Bros., Oneida, and Shreve & Co.—combined their original designs with ones appropriated from history.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Chicago Silver

Chicago Silver

Paul Somerson's incredible reference on handwrought metalwork from the American Arts and Crafts movement of the ear… [read review or visit site]

Silver Marks Encyclopedia

Silver Marks Encyclopedia

An extensive reference guide to silver marks, hallmarks, trademarks and maker's marks found on antique and vintage … [read review or visit site]

Silver at the Victoria and Albert

Silver at the Victoria and Albert

This is a great reference site on silver, courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum. You can view silver items acc… [read review or visit site]

The Gilbert Collection

The Gilbert Collection

The late Sir Arthur Gilbert's collection of European silver, gold, enamel, and other items is now housed at the Vic… [read review or visit site]

Delight in Design: Indian Silver for the Raj

Delight in Design: Indian Silver for the Raj

“Delight in Design: Indian Silver for the Raj” was the title of a 2008 exhibition at Columbia University’s Mi… [read review or visit site]

TheStieffCompany.com

TheStieffCompany.com

Scott Perkins is an enthusiastic evangelist for The Stieff Company, a significant Baltimore silversmith and maker o… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Antique Russian Solid Silver 84 Silver Ladel By Khlebnikov With Imperial WarrantBeautiful Large Silver Plate & American Brilliant Period Cut Glass Punch LadleStowell & Co. Sterling Silver Tulip & Vine Huge Punch Ladle 13 1/2" 240 Grams NrMexican Rare Big Sterling Silver Hammered Punch Ladle 14" No Reserve Art Deco NrLarge, George Iii Silver Soup Ladle, 1811, 233gmWhiting Lilly Style Sterling Silver Big Punch Ladle Art Nouveau 11 1/2" No ResrvVintage Georg Jensen Denmark Acorn Sterling Handle Cream Sauce LadleSolid Sterling Silver Wallace Shenandoah Gravy Ladle 6Vintage Gorham Silver Mustard Condiment Ladle - Waldorf Astoria HotelWhiting Madame Jumel Sterling Silver Soup/ Sauce Ladle Gold Gilt No Reserve NrPair Of Antique Towle Sterling Silver Candlelight Ladles Vintage 1934 Monogram RGorham Chantilly Sterling Silver Gravy Ladle Silver 2.6 Regular Ounces SterlingPair Antique Scottish Solid Silver Sauce Ladles Glasgow 1827 77 Grams Not Scrap Vintage "wallace" Grande Baroque Sterling Silver Serving Ladle 9 1/2 Inches NrVintage Silver Punch Bowl, Ladle, 12 Cups No Monogram! Wallace Sterling Silver Lucerne Big Ladle No Reserve Designed By H.wallaceWallace Rose Point Sterling Silver 3 Gravy / Sauce Ladle 1934Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Mini Ladle With Bird, Reeds & Flowers. NrGorgeous Old Colonial 5 1/8" Gw Bowl Mayonnaise Ladle .620 Ozt By Towle SterlingBox Lot Sterling & Coin Silver Bon Bon Salt Spoons Small LadlesWallace Sterling Silver Rose Point Cream/sauce Ladle 6.5"Vintage "wallace" Grande Baroque Sterling Silver Gravy Ladle No ReserveVintage Cast Iron Lead Melting Smelting Pot & Ladle Bullets Gold Silver NrVintage 1800's Large Sterling Ladle SpoonVery Rare 1875 Gorham Sterling Silver Soup Ladle 13" 8.2 Ounces3 Misc. Sterling Silver Ladles, 2 Cream And One Oyster Ladle, Different MakersVintage Huge Towle Silver Punch Bowl Set Underplate Ladle 20 Cups Nr WeddingWallace Grande Baroque All Sterling Sauce Ladle Victorian Antique Silver Sauce Ladle London Hallmark 1861Sterling Silver Rlb Rogers Lunt Bowlen 1910 Virginia Gravy & Cream Ladle Set Pretty Art Nouveau Antique Norwegian Solid Silver Sugar/ Sauce Ladle1847 Rogers Silver Vintage Grape Buffet Sauce Condiment LadleWm Rogers Silver Plate Punch Serving Ladle1847 Rogers Silver Vintage Grape Mustard Condiment LadleBrodrene Lohne 830s Silver Norway / Norwegian Laila Large Soup LadleAmston Sterling Silver Duncan Phyfe 1935 Pattern (3) Gravy Ladles *172.0 Grams*Scottish Georgian 1812 Shell Pattern Sterling / Solid Silver Sugar Sifter LadleReed & Barton Georgian Rose Sterling Silver Gravy LadleWhiting/gorham Sterling Silver Sauce Ladle 6" Imperial Queen W/monogramVintage Silver Plated Silverware Serving Gravy Ladle Use Or Craft Lot Of 16New York Central Railroad Gravy Ladle Internationational Silver CoRare English Toddy Ladle Georgian Silver Baleen Handle Hallmarks Gift Idea LookLot Of Two (2) Early Vintage Sterling Silver Ladles #5! Nr!Vintage Solid Silver Ladle - Celtic Knot Decoration - Silver JubileeInternational Royal Danish Sterling Silver Ladle 6 1/4" **no Reserve**Towle Old Colonial Sterling Silver Gravy Ladle No Reserve Estate Collection NrAntique Celline Craft Hand Wrought Sterling Silver Ladle S 53 SignedLovely Georgian Solid Sterling Silver Sauce Ladle, London 1805Made In Norway Magnus Aase 830 Silver Small Ladle AntiqueGrand Baroque Soup Ladle Wallace SterlingSolid Silver 925 Large Drinks LadleAntique Towle Old English 1897 Year Gilded Sterling Silver Gravy Sauce Ladle Sterling Silver Baker Manchester Bms17 Floral Small Cream Ladle 5Antique Gorham Sterling Siver Ladle St. CloudAmerican World Brand Silver Nenuphar Mustard Condiment LadleWm A Rogers Silver La Concorde Grape Mustard Condiment LadleBeautiful Large Silver Punch Bowl W Ice Insert, Ladle & Grape Cluster Design WowGorham Sterling Gravy Ladle, Strasbourg 1897, Lion/anc/gSolid Sterling Silver Alvin Chateau Rose Gravy Ladle 6" (#493)A Good Example Of A Vintage Mappin & Webb A1 Silver Plated Rat Tail Ladle