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 Sterling & Solid Silver Napkin Rings Soup Punch Ladle Repousse Cake Breaker+London 1730 Hallmarked Solid Silver LadelGreat Estate Lot French Norwegian Austrian Sterling Solid Silver Spoons Ladles +Antique Georgian Scottish Adam Elder Edingburgh 1828 Silver Pair Ladles SterlingGravy Ladle Gorham Strasbourg Solid Sterling Silver Old Marks: L / A / GVintage Sterling Silver Duck Goose Head Miniature Ladle Spoon Salt Dip Cellar X6Georg Jensen Sterling Acorn Gravy LadleChinese Export Silver Ladle Spoon DragonsFine Louisville Ky Kentucky W & A Cooper Southern Coin Silver Ladle LoughboroughTiffany & Co. Shell & Thread Mustard Spoon Condiment Ladle ( Sterling Silver )Southern Coin Silver Ladle By Adam Lynn, Alexandria, Va (1793-1835)Gorham Sterling Ladle Cheese Scoop Isis Egyptian TasteAlvin Sterling Silver Tomato Server & Gravy Soup Ladle 1940's Chateau RoseGood Pair Antique Georgian Sterling Silver Fiddle Pattern Sauce Ladles, 1831Georgian 1808 Sterling Silver Sugar Sifter Pierced Ladle John Lias London 6"l.Cream Ladle Gorham Strasbourg Solid Sterling Silver Old Marks: L / A / G1817 / 1818 Edinburgh Englad Jn Sterling Silver Large Ladle 13 1/2 Inch 215.3 GrScottish Solid Silver Ladle. Edinburgh 1857. Quality Georgian Silver Sauce Ladle - London 1819 - Richard Pearce - 2ozGreat Tiffany & Co. Wave Edge Sterling Gold Wash Slotted Serving Ladle 68 GramsSterling Silver Large Soup Ladle,george Iv 1825,william Chawner Ii FiddlegriffinRare Big Old 1940s .999 Silver Guns Ladles Sandal Bucket Hat Rope Charm BraceletVictorian Gorham Sterling Silver Gold Strasbourg Pattern Cream Sauce Ladle SpoonPair Of Victorian Solid Silver Gravy Sauce Ladles 1899 Hallmarked Sterling NrPair Of Victorian Solid Silver Sauce Ladles 1849 By Elizabeth Eaton 152 Grams Antique Sterling Silver Pea Strainer Ladle By Wood & Hughes Leaf Shell PatternLunt Eloquence Gravy Ladle Sterling Silver No MonogramsLovely George Iii Scottish Silver Toddy Ladle Edinburgh 1806Vintage Gorham Chantilly Sterling Silver Gravy Ladle No MomoSilver Plate Sugar Sifter Ladle - Pat No 17124 - Nautilus Shell - No ReserveSterling Silver Ladle 37.13gUnion Pacific Railroad Dinning Car Silver Ware Zephyr Jam Mustard Ladel SpoonAntique 1906 Rockford Silver Plate Gravy Ladle Spoon Grenoble Gloria Pattern VtgGorham English Gadroon Sterling Silver Gravy Ladle 6 1/4 InchRare Reed & Barton El Greco Pattern Solid Sterling Gravy LadleGorham Chantilly Sterling Silver Sauce LadleAntique Ornate Sterling Gravy LadleVintage Silver Silverplate Flatware Mix Lot Forks Spoons Ladle Craft Use ResaleDurgin "new Art" Sterling Gravy Ladle W/ Daffodils On Handle & BowlWestmorland 1940 George & Martha Washington Sterling Silver Gravy Ladle 90gFinland Kultaseppa 813 H Silver Unique, Small Ladle, Rose On Handle, Gold WashPair Of Manchester Gadroonette Condiment/sauce Ladles In Sterling Silver No MonoRussian Silver Ladle St.petersburg 1866 Hallmark 84 SilverSterling Condiment Ladle London 1805-6Large Vintage Silver Plated Punch Bowl Ladel Come Take A Look It Is Neat2 Peru Sterling Silver Spoons / LadlesVintage Aram Sterling Silver Ladle SpoonReed & Barton Sterling Silver Burgundy Gravy Ladle, NipFairfax Durgin Sterling Silver Cream Sauce Ladle No MonoFabulous Finland 1921 Silver Gild Server Cream/sauce Ladle W/spout Spoon Antique Manchester Sterling Elegant Cream / Gravy Ladle 5" 1857 Asco American Silver Co. Mother Of Pearl Sterling Silver Band Serving LadleBeautiful Towle Sterling Silver Fontana Serving Ladle 6 1/4 Inches!!! 1.96 Oz.International Cw Silver Sterling Mayonnaise Sauce Cream Ladle 1907 Hepplewhite Vtg Stieff Sterling Gravy Ladle Rose Repousse +original Stieff Anti-tarnish BagVintage Sterling Silver Baker Manchester Small Gravy Ladle Vintage Silverplate Ladle W/ M Monogram Wm. A. Rogers Silver Triple Plate International Silver Company Silver Platted Gravy Ladle No. 99110699