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Miniature canteen

Miniature canteen

  • Place of origin:

    London (probably, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1740 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Shagreen over wood and silver

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Mrs D. S. F. Campbell

  • Museum number:

    M.264 to L-1976

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Silver toys were not only playthings for wealthy children. The term toy included any knick-knack or fashionable trinket for adults, as well as a child’s plaything. Silver toys copied the exact details and proportions of normal sized pieces. They occur in an exuberant variety of subject and size ranging from domestic utensils to elaborate furniture. Several explanations of these objects have been tendered; that they were part of the furnishings of dolls’ houses, that they were trade samples made in miniature for convenience and security, that they were practice pieces for apprentices, that they were a fashionable novelty for adults to collect or that they were simply the playthings of rich children. In 1571, the daughter of Henry II of France ordered a set of small silver ‘pots, bowls, plates and other articles,’ to give to a royal child. The high point of production in London was the first half of the 18th century. Some pieces such as the fireplace or the plate stand were made to furnish dolls’ houses, others such as the tea table and chocolate pot helped little girls to behave like ladies. Because they were light and small, silver toys are not fully hallmarked. The form of the maker’s or retailer’s mark helps to date them.

Physical description

Fish skin over wood (shagreen), containing six miniature silver knives and six miniature silver forks with octagonal handles.

Place of Origin

London (probably, made)


ca. 1740 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Shagreen over wood and silver

Marks and inscriptions

No marks


Height: 3.8 cm

Historical context note

D.S.F. Campbell Bequest
This is a collection of silver toys, mainly English dating from the 17th and 18th centuries with some Dutch pieces, said to have belonged originally to Queen Victoria. According to Mrs Campbell's papers, they were given by the Duchess of Kent to Mrs Salina Bracebridge, née Mills, in recognition of her work with Florence Nightingale in the Crimea, c.1855.

Descriptive line

Miniature canteen with knives and forks, shagreen and wood, silver cutlery, no marks, London?, ca.1740


Shagreen; Wood; Silver


Accessories; Children & Childhood; Metalwork; Eating


Metalwork Collection

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