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  • Place of origin:

    Birmingham (made)

  • Date:

    1880 (designed)
    ca.1880 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Dresser, Christopher, born 1834 - died 1904 (designer)
    Hukin and Heath (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Electroplate, with an ebony handle

  • Credit Line:

    From the Handley Read Collection

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 125, Edwin and Susan Davies Gallery, case 1

Object Type
This ladle breaks with tradition by replacing the graceful curve generally used for ladles, with a stricter, broken form, which requires only the slightest turn of the hand for serving.

Design & Designing
Dresser realised that the use of thin-gauge metal made the object inherently weak and therefore subject to distortion. His solution was to add reinforcing ridges and an internal lip, which gave the bowl extra rigidity.Therefore the articulations used in this design had a functional as well as aesthetic purpose. Other versions of this design were made with ivory handles.

Unlike his contemporaries whom he saw as indulging in pictorialism and historicism for the sake of their superficial romantic associations, Dresser attempted to investigate the formal properties of the objects he admired. He developed fresh designs following on from his own instinct for natural functional forms, which he believed to be appropriate to contemporary requirements.

Physical description

Electroplate ladle with hemispherical bowl and handle with angular bend.

Place of Origin

Birmingham (made)


1880 (designed)
ca.1880 (made)


Dresser, Christopher, born 1834 - died 1904 (designer)
Hukin and Heath (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Electroplate, with an ebony handle

Marks and inscriptions

Marks: 'Designed by Dr. C. Dresser'; 'H & H', 2123 (registration mark for 28 July 1880)


Length: 35 cm, Diameter: 8.2 cm bowl, Depth: 7 cm

Object history note

Designed by Christopher Dresser (born in Glasgow, 1834, died in Mulhouse, France, 1904); manufactured by Hukin & Heath, Birmingham

Descriptive line

Ladle, electroplate with ebony handle, Birmingham ca.1880, made by Hukin & Heath, designed by Christopher Dresser.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Dresser's designs are often startlingly modern, but they also consider the function of the object. For this ladle, he has replaced a traditional curved handle with an angled one, which needs only the slightest turn for serving. The ridge of the bowl may have been used to add strength to the thin metal. [27/03/2003]


Nickel silver; Silver; Ebony




ELISE; Metalwork; Tableware & cutlery; Eating; British Galleries; Scotland


Metalwork Collection

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