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Toast rack

  • Place of origin:

    Sheffield (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1790 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Sheffield plate (copper plated with silver)

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Mrs A. L. Bram Stoker

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 118; The Wolfson Gallery, case 8

Object Type
Toast racks, designed to hold a selection of toast on the breakfast table, appeared in the 1780s as part of the general refinement of dining customs among the middle classes.

Design & Designing
A variety of designs was initially explored (for example, articulated racks) before the simple arrangement of parallel arches became standard. The design for the present rack, consisting largely of narrow strips of metal, was probably developed from the form of a lyre, a popular symbol of harmony and clarity among Neo-classical designers.

Materials & Making
Manufacturers of toast racks took advantage of improvements in the making of fused plate wire, and many of their pieces are made almost entirely of sections of wire soldered together. From the 1760s fused plate wire was made in the rolling mills, a thin strip of sterling silver being bent round a circular copper ingot about five centimetres in diameter. After fusion had taken place under the influence of heating in the furnace, the bar was drawn through a series of holes or 'whortles', these decreasing in size until wire of the requisite diameter was created. Wire-work objects and dishes first became popular in the 1780s, and continued to be manufactured well into the 19th century.

Place of Origin

Sheffield (made)


ca. 1790 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Sheffield plate (copper plated with silver)


Height: 21.59 cm, Width: 17.14 cm

Object history note

Made in Sheffield

Descriptive line

Sheffield plate

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Toast racks, also known as 'toast machines', first appeared in the 1780s as part of the general refinement in dining customs. They were frequently adventurous in design. This example is rather impractically shaped like a lyre, a classical instrument like a harp. [27/03/2003]


Metalwork; Food vessels & Tableware


Metalwork Collection

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