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    

Lot 24 Pieces Vintage Spoons Ladle Tongs Forks Sterling Silver Plate Stieff Mfa Very Fine Heavy Guild Of Handicrafts Silver Toddy Ladle 1817 William Chawner Solid Silver Kings Pattern Pair Of Sauce Ladles 190g/6.10ozFine 1885 Antique Whiting Twist Ii Heavy 11" Sterling Silver Punch Ladle 146gEarly Old Colonial Towle Solid Sterling Silver Ladle 10 5/8-14" Nm Dupont EstateSuperb Rare Set 4 1897 Victorian Edinburgh Rattail Silver Sauce Ladles 301gFine Edwardian 1909 Hallmark Silver Goldsmiths Kings Soup Ladle 305 Grams P Irish Silver Ladle. George 111.Antique Norwegian Sterling Silver Saucier Gravy Ladle Serving Spoon Not Scrap55gAntique Gorham Buttercup Pattern Sterling Silver Gravy Ladle 6 & 3/8" 53gmRare Scottish Silver Onslow Ladle, Edinburgh 1834 Georgian Cream, Sauce Or ToddyJob Lot Collection 7 Antique Vintage Silver Plated Sugar Sifter Spoons LadlesDominick & Haff~sterling Ladle~renaissance~1894~6"~gold Wash~faces~extra Fine!! Lot Vintage Antique Sterling Silver Flatware Spoons Ladle Speader Chattanooga NrGorham Chantilly 5 1/4" Sterling Silver Ladle 1875-1899A Superb Solid Sterling Silver Removable Centre Straining Sauce Ladle Spoon 1936Rare Antique Sterling Silver Toddy Ladle / Caddy Spoon, Made In EnglandScottish Provincial Silver Ladle Dundee Circa 1810Fine Regency 1818 Pair Silver Pearce Crested Kings Large Sauce Ladles 228 Grams Vtg Gorham Fairfax Sterling Silver 6 1/4" Ladle , No MonoSigned Tiffany Co Sterling Silver 925 Edinborough Pattern Cream Sauce Ladle NrFine Pair, George Iii Silver Sauce Ladles, 1803, 99gmVictorian Silver Sauce Ladle, 1846, 72gmAntique Sterling Silver Souvenir Tea Spoons & Ladle Lot Scrap Bullion 64.8 GramsScottish Solid Sterling Silver Cream Or Sauce Ladle By Isle Of Mull Silver Co.Antique Solid Silver Mustard Ladle 1840 Mcga & 2 Georgian Silver Salt SpoonsA Beautiful Antique Silver Plated Punch Bowl,6 Cups And Ladle Chased,rare.Wallace Grande Baroque 6" Sterling Silver Sauce Ladle Serving Spoon #62Pretty George Iii Silver Sifter Ladle, 1787Sterling Silver .925 Wm. B. Durgin Co. Antique 9" Ladle Serving Spoon 45gQuality Antique Solid Sterling Silver Sauce Ladle 1838 We/ 18 CmFine Edwardian 1909 Pair Silver Goldsmiths Kings Small Sauce Ladles 172 Grams P Heirloom Sterling By Oneida Damask Rose Solid Gravy Ladle 6 1/2"Art Silver Shop Arts & Crafts Hand Wrought Silver Gravy Sauce LadleLarge 9.7g Solid 925 Silver George 3rd Mustard / Condiment Ladle Or Spoon 1774Georg Jensen Gravy Ladles (2) Sterling Acorn - Perfect Vintage! Nr!Vintage Georg Jensen Inc. Usa Hammered Sterling Silver Spoon Ladles 125 GramsTowle Old Colonial Sterling LadlePair Of Sterling Silver .925 Manchester Antique Ladle & Pierced Serving Spoons 3Antique Georgian Solid Silver Pierced Ladle - Leaf Pattern Bowl - DecorativeVtg Gorham Durgin Fairfax Sterling Silver Ladle , No Mono4 Solid Sterling Silver Serving Pieces 259.5gm Prelude Spoon Ladle Fine Dining Antique Louis Xv Whiting Sterling Silver Ladle 12" 18916 X Gorham Medici Sterling Silver Ladle Serving Spoon Bon Bon Butter 452.4 GramsAntique Whiting Lafrance Roses & Scrolls Sterling Silver Gravy Ladle 5 & 7/8 27gAntique Gorham Albemarle Pattern Sterling Silver Gravy Ladle 5 & 7/8" 32gmSuperb 8" ~ French Solid Silver ~ Sauce / Toddy Ladle ~ C18751 Gorham Strasbourg Sterling Silver Gravy Ladle 6 1/2 Inch No Reserve2x Antique Georgian Silver Toddy Punch Ladle Bowls Hm 1813 & 1802 Shaw Willmore Cordon Mid Century Sterling Silver Gravy Ladle Mexico CityWallace Grande Baroque Solid Gravy Ladle 6 5/8" Sterling Silver 925 No MonogramsVintage Holmes And Edwards Repousse Sterling Silver 925 Gravy Ladle (26g)Antique Durgin Fairfax Pattern Sterling Silver Gravy Ladle 6 & 3/8" 50gmLarge Antique Vintage German Wmf Silver Plate Punch Ladle Wine Drinks Bowl Table Huge 35 Cm / 310 Gram William Iv 1837 Solid Silver Soup Ladle Nice C1800 Josiah Snatt Georgian Sterling Silver Ladle W/twisted Baleen Handle1915 Acorn By Georg Jensen 88g Sterling Handle Stainless Bowl Ladle 7 1/2”Antique International Wedgwood Pattern Sterling Silver Gravy Ladle 6 & 1/4" 51gmRare Vtg Silver Ladle Knight Arm Armor Dagger Hallmarked 4 Hallmarks 14" Server 1798 Georgian Sterling Silver Ladle Old English & Shell Pattern