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    

Good Antique Georgian Solid Silver Shell Bowl Ladle, C1770, 131 GramsSuperb George Iii Heavy 1802 Silver We Wf Fiddle Thread Pattern Soup Ladle 223g Fine Set 4 Heavy 1821 Silver Georgian Hayne Scarce Fiddle Sauce Ladles 281gFantastic John Lambe 1784 Hallmarked Old English Silver Soup Ladle 139 GramsGeorge Iii Irish Silver Toddy Ladle, Dublin 1813Heavy Silver Soup Ladle London 1905 Goldsmiths & Silversmiths (314g)Antique Whiting Sterling Silver Lily Of Valley Serving Spoon Ladle Pickle ForkSterling Silver Large Soup Ladle (tureen) 12" To 13" Long11 Royal Danish International Sterling Silver Serving Set Spoons Forks LadleAntique Solid Silver Gravy Or Sauce Ladle W/ Cherub * Germany * Circa 18902 Hester Bateman 1788 Old English Pattern Georgian Silver Sifter Ladles 82 GramsRare Antique Georgian Irish Cork Silver Sauce Ladle, Carden Terry, C1800Superb Victorian Heavy 1878 Silver Elkington Old English Thread Soup Ladle 242g Very Nice Pair 1850 Ga Fiddle Thread Victorian Silver Sauce Ladles 147gramsGeorgian / 19th Century 36cm Whalebone Twist Handle Silver Metal Toddy LadleGorham Chantilly ? Sterling Silver Punch Bowl Ladle.....192 Grams...not Scrap9 Vtg Sterling Silver Spoons Ladles Sugar Sifter 150 Grams Good Not Scrap Wallace Grand Baroque Sterling Silver Ladle - It's Beautiful Antique Solid Edinburgh Hallmarked Georgian Silver Sauce 6" Ladle 28gSuperb Georgian 1811 Silver Thomas Barker Rare Fiddle Pattern Sauce Ladle 61g Very Nice Pair 1860 Ga Old English Thread Victorian Silver Sauce Ladles 150gramsGeorgian Silver Tody Ladle London 1778Finnish 813 Solid Silver Ladle & Serving Scalloped Spoon Gold Washed FinlandSuperb Victorian Heavy 1878 Silver Elkington Old English Thread Soup Ladle 242g Georgian Silver Toddy Ladle Maker J.s London 1829.Antique Solid Silver Georgian Ladle - Exeter - 1823 - George Turner3 Manchester Sterling Silver Ladle Spoons "gadroonette" Good Not Scrap 70 GramsSuperb William Iv 1836 Silver Britton Rare Fiddle Pattern Sauce Ladle 60g Antique 19c Aesthetic Hand Made Sterling Silver Slotted Serving Ladle Spoon 1870Vtg Mid Century Sterling Silver Lunt American Directoire Sauce Ladle Teaspoon X3Vintage Georg Jensen Inc. Usa Solid Sterling Silver Sauce Ladle Spoon 30.7g 5"Antique Solid Silver Georgian Ladle - 1815 - Alice & George Burrows IiGorham Sterling Buttercup Old Style Sauce LadleVintage Antique Sterling Silver 3 Piece Serving Set Ladle, Gravy, Tomato ServerLanglands George Iii 1800 Silver Rare Newcastle Old English Sauce Ladle 45g William Iv Silver Sauce Ladle London 1836 / Mary Chawner Ref 1150/2Fine Sterling Silver Antique Victorian Flat Base Ladle George Adams Chawner & CoWestmorland Sterling, "milburn Rose" Pattern Gravy Ladle, No Mono4 Antique Hallmarked Sterling Silver Serving Spoon Taster Ladle 9.35 Troy OzGorham Sterling Sauce Ladle & Pierced Sugar Sifter - Lily *88* PatternSuperb Georgian Heavy 1823 Silver Pearce Crested Kings Pattern Soup Ladle 309g Antique Solid 925 Silver Toddy Ladle 28gramsSterling Silver Lion By Frank Smith Gravy LadleAntique Large Sterling Punch Ladle, Wood Hughes, Louvre, Circa 1885Gorham Sterling Silver Pierced Serving Ladle King George * 99.3 Grams *Antique Sterling Gravy Ladle, Oneida, Michaelangelo, Circa 19701834 Irish Georgian Sterling LadleGeorge Iii Silver Toddy Ladle Edinburgh 1810Superb Georgian Heavy 1807 Silver Thomas Barker Old English Soup Ladle 203g Antique Solid Silver Georgian Ladle - 1813 - Mary & Elizabeth SumnerGeorge Iii Silver Berry Sugar Sifter Ladle London 1804Victorian Silver Sauce Ladle London 1846 / Chawner & Co Ref 1150/3Antique International Sterling Silver Gravy Ladle 70 Grams "richelieu" No ScrapPrincess House Barrington Silver Ladle Item # 2280Vintage Holmes And Edwards Silver Punch LadleTiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Cream Ladle, Flemish, 1911, Really Nice !Kirk Sterling Repousse Sauce Or Mayonnaise Ladle 5 3/8" No Reserve - $1 StartAntique 1934 Towle "candlelight" Sterling Silver Gravy Ladle Spoon 52.3 GramsWonderful Original Usn Silver Plate Ladle Serving Spoon Military Navy FlatwareIrish, George Iv Silver Sauce Ladle, 1820, 51gm