1) A printmaker wants to recreate a set of trenchers. Like Ivan Day, she's chosen the Griffith set (see previous post) to reproduce, even though the originals were not made with prints. A follow-up post: https://
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A new book on fruit trenchers has been published recently. It’s a tiny little book about one woman’s quest to create a set of her own trenchers as a master project for her Diploma in Calligraphy. I’m tempted to buy a second copy and cut it up to use as paste-on trenchers. Would that be wrong? The only part that gives me pause is that she used a set of ten as her model, so I'd always feel like I was missing two.You can buy your own copy of Ann Frances Hall's Elizabethan Roundels on Amazon UK, with shipping to the USA it costs about 15 pounds/23 dollars. There’s a few pictures on her website, http://www.elizabethanroundels.co.uk/
Since July of 2011, I’ve been arguing that the letter-shaped sweets in Dutch still-lifes of Elizabethan and Jacobean era banqueting stuff had no English equivalent. Sir Hugh Platt however, feels differently
18 To make a Marchpane. Take two pounds of Almondes beeing blaunched and dryed in a ſieue ouer the fire, beate them in a ſtone mortar, and when they be ſmall mixe with thē two pounde of ſugar being finely beaten, adding two or three ſpoonefuls of Roſewater, and that will keep your almonds from oiling: when your paſte is beaten fine, driue it thin with a rowling pin, and ſo lay it on a botome of wafers, then raiſe vp a little edge on the ſide, & ſo bake it, then yce it with Roſewater and ſugar, then put it into the ouen againe, and when you ſee your yce is riſen vp and drie, then take it out of the Ouen and garniſh it with pretie conceipts, as birds & beaſts being caſt out of ſtanding moldes. Sticke long cōfits vpright in it, caſt bisket and carowaies in it, and ſo ſerue it; gild it before you ſerue it: you may alſo print off this Marchpane paſte in your molds for banqueting diſhes. And of this paſte our comfit makers at this day make their letters, knots, Armes, eſcocheons, beaſts, birds, & other fancies.
Taken from the 1609 version of Delights for Ladies as printed by G.E. and K.R. Fussell. Any errors in transcription are my own.
I’d still like to find an English painting depicting banqueting stuff with letters. While I'm wishing, I'd like a set of letter-moulds in a passably Tudor font. (O, to have a set based on this 16th century pattern book: http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/
In Country Life, 16May2012, there was a very short article and picture of a set of double-belted banqueting trenchers. Of course, zino won't sell me a back issue because I don't live in the UK and Country Life hasn't answered my emails. If you know anyone who might have access to this issue, can you ask them to scan the page and send it to me? I'd like to be able to identify the set, if I can.
ETA: While I'd still like to read the article, it looks like the picture is the Bridgeman photo of the Museum of London set. Previous blog about the MOL set.
It’s been a big week here in trencher land, partly because the pictures I’d ordered from the Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum arrived and they were (in a sad, “whoa, I’m way-too-involved-in-my-project" kind of way) completely mind blowing. The Salisbury museum owns a set of the Labours of the Months trenchers, the very set I now believe was described by Felix Laurent in Notes and Queries 3rd S. XI. April 27, 1867. pp 346-47. What I was not prepared for is that they look so much like the set in the British Museum (1921,0216.34b-m) for a moment I wondered if one was a deliberate forgery of the other. Previously, I had thought that the prints had been used by individual families to create trenchers for home use, but these sets are more probably created by the same workshop for commercial sale. I hate the noise my pet theories make when they crash and burn so dramatically.
The good part is that I’ve got some interesting data points, and the second set of trenchers owned by the Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum are even more weirdly special than the Labours of the Months set. I also (finally) got motivated and wrote to the Pilgrim Hall in Plymouth MA and asked them about their November trencher and got an unbelievably speedy response from them.
The Metropolitan Posies are named for a lovely set in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (64.101.1566-1577). Their excellent website has readable color pictures. This grouping of posies is also used on sets of trenchers in the Museum of London (A7382), British Museum (1888,1110.45.b-l and BM 1921,0216.35.b-m), and the Victoria and Albert (6896-1860). Another unlocated set is described and pictured in Domestic Utensils of Wood by Owen Evan-Thomas.
8 of the posies are male-voiced, 2 are female-voiced and the remaining 2 are neutral. 6 posies are anti-woman accusing her of the various sins of dominance, inconstancy, lust, outspokenness, shrewishness, and martial violence. 1 posy is anti-man; his sin is over-spending. 8 posies advise against marriage, and 0 are for marriage
A few weeks ago I posted about the group of posies on the Princeton (Taylor MS 19) set of trenchers. That grouping turns out to be a difficult group to place within a "family" as it has considerable overlap with several other groups.
The posies on the Birmingham set of trenchers, however, have hardly any overlap with other groups. I've named this grouping of posies after the set of trenchers visible online at the website of the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, England; and also described in Pinto, Edward H. 1961. The Pinto collection of wooden bygones: a short guide, with illustrations. Oxhey Woods House, Middx: [E.H. Pinto]. 40 p.,  p. of plates : ill.)
The same grouping of posies are also on trenchers in the British Museum 1888,1110.43.b-l, the National Museums of Liverpool accession numbers 53.114.449 and M5999, and the Museum of London A7383 a-g. Two other sets of this grouping are described in the literature.
4 of the posies are male-voiced, 2 are female-voiced and the remaining 6 are neutral. 4 are anti-woman accusing her of dominance, greed, shrewishness, and lust. 4 advise against marriage, and 0 are for marriage.
GM and I went to visit his mom for Christmas, and I had an opportunity to go to Princeton's Firestone library and see their set of Elizabethan Roundels (Taylor MS 19, scroll to bottom for brief description). It's a charming set, very similar in design to the Fitzwilliam's Box containing twelve trenchers and St Albans's Set of Tudor Roundels. The verses are secular (with one exception), and the spaces normally occupied by bible verses are used for the first couplet of the posies. This arrangement of text has only one other exemplar I know of, a lone survivor of a lost set in the Norfolk museum. Several of the Taylor trenchers are badly damaged, but nearly all the texts were readable, yay!
Victoria Jackson has written a short article on the Fruit Trenchers owned by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. Click the link for Shakespeare’s World in 100 Objects: Number 27, a set of 12 posy trenchers. This set is also described on the Trust's website, and includes all the posies: SBT 1992-4 A set of twelve Elizabethan sycamore table mats.
The SBT set is also very closely related to a set in the Victoria and Albert museum (not that the V&A ever puts them on display), 6895-1860 Roundel box, Set of roundels. "
edited to add: The SBT has a new webpage with a 1/2 picture of the Acorns/"Who, in the life of his soul, does delight [in] his carnal pleasures? He [who] must mortify [his flesh] quite [completely]" trencher. http://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-
I've figured out my class for the Culinary symposium.
Give us this day our daily bread: Bread and Trenchers on the medieval table.
This class will cover the use of bread on the 15th and 16th century dining table, including hands-on carving of eating bread and bread trenchers. There will be a PowerPoint presentation of historical trenchers and bread knives. If time, there will be a discussion of wafers and Elizabethan dessert trenchers. Most information presented will be drawn from English sources.
This class will not be about the history of bread, commercial uses or manufacture of bread, nor about the religious role of bread in medieval society.
For the West/AnTir cooks' symposium next spring, I'm going to co-teach a class on bread with gormflaith. She's covering the practical bread-making parts, and I'm doing an overview of the use of bread trenchers and portpains in the medieval feast hall. I might include the instructions for cutting bread at the table c. 1480's England.
If you were going to take such a class, what questions would you like to have answered?