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Saturday, December 4, 2010

What am I? A hotel silver riddle

I love picking up hotel silver when I see it in secondhand stores. It always has such a great heft to it and, what's more, feels like a part of history.

I got this silver piece that came from the Willard a while back but have never figured out what it is. The Willard is a historic hotel in downtown Washington, so I was drawn to it right away. It's about 6" tall. The top piece that sits on the rim of the bowl is removable. At first I thought it would be handy to use for a flower arrangement,  but I know that wasn't its primary purpose. It is stamped 'Victor S. Co. EP-NS Silver Soldered R0110 54" (and "The Willard") on the bottom.

So, does anyone know what this silver piece is for?


The Wool Acorn said...

hmmmmm.... this is right up my alley but I'm a little stumped. Maybe shrimp? Ice goes in the insert and the shrimp on top? Or put ice in the cup and a smaller cup of caviar in a glass bowl sits inside?

Room Temperature said...

Hi MoS

It's a blast from the past! My past, anyway. What you have is a Supreme dish. The large bowl was filled with finely crushed ice, the ring was attached & the small bowl pushed down into the pile of ice to compress it. Now you've got a way to make sure that cold foods are served really cold. Maybe it's a fruit cup, maybe it's vichysoisse, maybe it's shrimp cocktail. I know, because I spent my college years as a waiter in the main dining room of the Peoria equivalent of the Willard Hotel--the Pere Marquette, designed by the brilliant Horace Trumbauer--and I served all those dishes.

For Shrimp Supreme, it was actually the cocktail sauce that was in the ice-bedded bowl, and the Gigantor cold shrimp were arrayed in a circle, tails hanging over the edge. Parsley was poked through the ring's pierced openings to make a green hedge, the whole thing was served on a doily-topped glass nappy plate with lemon wedges. Red sauce, pink shrimp, green parsley, yellow lemons, it was an attractive dish. And at the end of the evening, we got to eat all the shrimp that had been prepared but didn't sell. I was a penniless student, but I managed to survive for four years on a diet of two-day-old shrimp & dinner rolls smeared with Bearnaise sauce. Beats ramen noodles any day.

Anonymous said...

Not a caviar server. Caviar is always served in glass or some type of bone or shell dish.

Kathysue said...

I think it is either for butter or shrimp. Like the previous commenter said. I can see pretty little butter balls in that. You found a real treasure, How fun!! Kathysue

Marybeth said...

yup, its for a shrimp's a link to show similar bowls:

Now I'm craving some shrimp! :)

kayce hughes said...

My thought was shrimp cocktail and it seams I am not alone.

Lindsey said...

It is a caviar server for when you are serving it out of the caviar's original container, or a tiny glass bowl. Like a poster said before, you put crushed ice in the middle and nestle the caviar container into the middle. You serve it with tiny mother of pearl caviar spoons. Though some people think you can only use a mother of pearl plate to serve caviar, this is one of the accepted ways, and it's the intended use of this piece. However, I don't see why you couldn't use it for shrimp cocktails... why not right!?

See here:

and here

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