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    

Huge Old Punch Bowl Tray Ladle Sterling Coin Silver Italy Germany Heavy RareAntique Solid Silver Toddy Ladle Twisted Handle Queen Anne 1703 Coin NrLarge Antique Georgian Solid Silver Toddy Ladle Hm1788 Twisted Handle NrSuperb William Iv Heavy 1831 Silver Chawner Crest Kings Pattern Soup Ladle 291g Fine Antique Georgian Solid Silver Toddy Ladle Twisted Handle C1760 NrScottish Macalister Fortiter Georgian Sterling Silver Punch Toddy Ladle SpoonSuperb Antique Georgian Sterling Silver Scottish Punch Ladle, 1836Superb Antique Georgian Sterling Silver Shell Bowl Soup Ladle, 169 Grams, 1770Good Irish Georgian Silver Spouted Cream Ladle. Hallmarked Dublin 1820.Superb William Iv Heavy 1836 Silver Mary Chawner Kings Pattern Sauce Ladle 79g Wallace Grande Baroque Sterling Silver Modern Dinner Forks, Gravy Ladle 9 InchesDavid Andersen Set Of Two Silver Ringebu Cream Ladles, Servers, 40 G, Norway Gorham Chantilly Sterling Silver 4-piece Place Setting + Gravy LadleLarge Buccellati Empire Sterling Silver Punch Ladle 13" Long 3.5" Bowl B20Superb Victorian Heavy 1846 Silver Ga Kings Pattern Sauce Ladle 82g Superb Georgian Heavy 1822 Silver William Eaton Fiddle Thread Sauce Ladle 84g Large Antique Reed & Barton Stering Silver, La Marquise, Pattern Soup Ladle, NrVintage Georg Jensen Sterling Silver Gravy Ladle, Acorn PatternBirks Sterling Silver Chantilly Sauce Ladle Cold Meat Fork Pickle Fork 102.3g Antique Norwegian 830s Solid Silver Serving Or Sauce Ladle By Magnus Aase C 1910A Fine Victorian Antique Silver Ladle, Exeter, 1846Large Antique Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Serving Ladle Tomato Vine Pattern Lg Joseph Savory Sterling Silver Soup / Punch Ladle Queens Pattern 1837 LondonThree George V Sterling Silver Soup Ladles Kings Pattern Charles Boyton 1910Tiffany & Co. Beekman Sterling Silver Large Soup Ladle Bowl Holds 4 Ounces Disc.2pc Gorham Grecian Coin Or Sterling Silver Ladle & Serving Spoon Set C1861 NrBirks Sterling Silver Flatware Chantilly Gravy Spoon Cream Ladle 60.grPennsylvania Railroad Silver Broadway LadleGorham Chantilly Sterling Cream LadleWilliam Iv Scottish Silver Soup Ladle - Edinburgh 1837 - 7ozAntique Scottish Sterling Silver Toddy Ladle Edinburgh HallmarksLg Gorham Sterling Silver Soup / Punch Ladle Marie Antoinette Pattern 13" 345gVintage Lot Sterling Silver Sauce Boat Gravy Bowl & Ladle Serving Set Not ScrapSuperb Georgian Heavy 1824 Silver William Eaton Queens Pattern Sauce Ladle 85g A Beautiful Antique Solid Sterling Silver Victorian Sugar Sifter Spoon Ladle.18 Ep Japan Nickel Silver Silverplate Punch Bowl Cups And Silverplate Ladle George V Sterling Silver Spirit Ladle Cooper Brothers & Sons Ltd Sheffield 1925Georgian Sterling Silver Sauce Ladle: Mary Sumner, London 1807Gorham Sterling Silver Cream Sauce Ladle ButtercupGreat Quality Scottish Silver Hot Toddy Ladle, Edinburgh 1841 Fine Condition "c"Georgian Sterling Silver Soup Ladle London 1810Sterling Silver Basting Spoon With Matching Sauce Ladle - William Eaton1844 &45Sterling Silver LadelVintage Buccellati Empire Sterling Silver Gravy Ladle W/ Spout 7" B57William Chawner Ii London Sterling Silver Shell Pattern Gravy Ladle, 1832Vintage Buccellati Empire Sterling Silver Small Gravy / Sauce Ladle 5" B4019thc Victorian Era Sterling Silver Mustard Pot Ladle Art Nouveau StyleReed & Barton Les Cinq Fleurs Sterling Silver Flatware Large Solid Soup LadleHuge 12.5 In. Sterling Silver Gorham Ladle 9 Troy Oz. Cluny PatternTiffany Chrysanthemum Sterling Silver Serving Set (fork, Sauce Ladle & 2 Spoons)Excellent Gorham King Edward Sterling Silver Gravy Sauce Bouillon Ladle 7"l Gorham Chantilly All Sterling Gravy Ladle W/old Mark19th C. Gorham Sterling Small Ladle, Chantilly Pattern, 1895 .wallace Sterling Silver Rose Point 6 In. LadleWestmorland Sterling, Lady Hilton, Gravy Ladle 6.5in, 2.27oz No Reserve RareWhiting Sterling Gravy Butter Ladle 1893 Imperial Queen Pat Ex Cond Jrw MonogramGorham Imperial Chrysanthemum Sterling Silver Ladle Gilt Bowl 7" Gorgeous!Rare Scottish Provincial Glasgow Mcdonald 1825 Sterling Silver Toddy Ladle Grande Baroque Sterling Gravy LadleWallace Rose Point (1934) Sterling Silver Gravy Ladle & Pierced Serving Spoon