Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 52a

This object consists of 2 parts, some of which may be located elsewhere.

Nutmeg Grater

1809-1810 (hallmarked)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
This portable container was used to carry and grate nutmeg. An expensive and fragrant spice, nutmeg is the commercial name of the seed kernel of an evergreen tree, Myristica fragrans. It was imported into England from the East Indies, especially from islands that now form part of Indonesia. Initially nutmeg was believed to offer protection against the plague, but by the mid 17th century it was more commonly used to flavour food and drink. It was an important ingredient of punch and hot mulled wine.

Design & Use
Nutmeg graters first appeared in the mid 17th century, with greater refinement in dining and a wider ownership of silver for the table. They were either carried in the pocket or included in a travelling canteen that might also contain cutlery, a beaker and a corkscrew. The graters reached the height of their popularity in the next century. Cheaper, thinner gauge silver, new manufacturing techniques and greater prosperity led to an enormous growth in items of small personal silver. Nutmeg graters were then made in a variety of forms, from cylindrical, circular or oval boxes to more unusual designs such as hearts or shells, to express the owner's taste and individuality. The vase shape of this grater reflects the fashionable Neo-classical style of the later 18th century.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Nutmeg Grater
  • Case
Materials and Techniques
Silver, with iron grater inside
Brief Description
Nutmeg grater, silver, made by E. Robinson and T. Phipps, London, 1809-10
Physical Description
Silver, urn shaped, bottom cast, hinged lid and side, engraved decoration
Dimensions
  • Height: 7cm
  • Width: 3.5cm
  • Depth: 2.5cm
Marks and Inscriptions
  • Engraved with 'SW'
  • ("inside lid: sterling, maker TPER for Thomas Phipps and Edward Robinson inside side: sterling, maker inside body: maker, duty, sterling, date letter O (1809-10), leopard~Monogram on front in shield: SW or IW")
Gallery Label
British Galleries: This portable nutmeg grater dates from a time when nutmeg was commonly used as a spice for all sorts of food and drink. The actual grater is inside the vase-shaped container. This valuable little trinket has been marked with the initials fo the original owner, 'SW'.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Bequeathed by Guy and Rupert Oswald Smith
Object history
Made in London by T. Phipps and E. Robinson (in partnership 1783-1816)
Summary
Object Type
This portable container was used to carry and grate nutmeg. An expensive and fragrant spice, nutmeg is the commercial name of the seed kernel of an evergreen tree, Myristica fragrans. It was imported into England from the East Indies, especially from islands that now form part of Indonesia. Initially nutmeg was believed to offer protection against the plague, but by the mid 17th century it was more commonly used to flavour food and drink. It was an important ingredient of punch and hot mulled wine.

Design & Use
Nutmeg graters first appeared in the mid 17th century, with greater refinement in dining and a wider ownership of silver for the table. They were either carried in the pocket or included in a travelling canteen that might also contain cutlery, a beaker and a corkscrew. The graters reached the height of their popularity in the next century. Cheaper, thinner gauge silver, new manufacturing techniques and greater prosperity led to an enormous growth in items of small personal silver. Nutmeg graters were then made in a variety of forms, from cylindrical, circular or oval boxes to more unusual designs such as hearts or shells, to express the owner's taste and individuality. The vase shape of this grater reflects the fashionable Neo-classical style of the later 18th century.
Collection
Accession Number
M.930-1927

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record createdMarch 27, 2003
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