Lavish Shoestring lets you shop unusual homewares from the past 300+ years , all in one place. And this is a not-so-serious list of what-is-what in the lavish world. Not sure about a certain item function? Read on!
Baking moulds or molds— a form used in baking to make cookies, braun bread, cakes and jellies. Oven moulds were typically made of tinned copper or hard ovenproof ceramics called stoneware. The moulds interior is usually very decorative, with fruits or animal patterns.
Bookends — brackets used to support a row of books on a shelf or on a reading desk to prevent them from sliding. Bookends typically come in pairs and are pretty decorative; can be ceramic, wooden or metal, rarely glass. No books? No problem! Decorative bookends make a perfect house ornament.
Butter dishes — there are two types of butter dishes, one for the kitchen table and one for serving at the dinner table. Kitchen butter dish is a platter with a domed lid, often prettily decorated, usually in ceramic or glass. Butter dish for the dinner table is used for serving small portions of butter to each guest individually. They are usually very decorative and typically made of ceramic, glass, silver or silver plated metal. Be more refined, avoid serving butter out of it’s wrapper.
Candelabra — a candlestick with two or more candle branches. Looks impressive and is used when more light is needed. Made of various materials, but typically with a shiny surface to help reflect light. Old candelabras are often multi functional — remove the branches and the base will become a candlestick.
Candle snuffer — a clever implement which eliminates the need to puff frantically at the candles. A cup or cone shaped small tool, sometimes with a long handle, for extinguishing candle flames. Cover the candle and the flame is gone. Cool and sophisticated beyond compare.
Carafes — decanter for water or wine. Typically used for serving either one at the dinner table. Often without a stopper and of a larger capacity than a normal decanter, about 1 litre or more. Glass is the main material, but can have silver or silver plated mounts. Respectable hosts serve water and wine out of a carafe — water, because it is elegant, and wine, because it can breathe.
Carving set — a cutlery set used for carving a main dish of meat or game. The set typically contains a long blade knife, a long fork with two prongs and a spring lever (used as a hand guard), and a knife sharpener. Look for elaborate handles, they come in a variety of materials — deer antler, ivory, bone, silver and silver plate. Carving a dish is part of a dinner ritual, so do practice ahead of time to avoid messing up while all the eyes are on you.
Champagne flute — tall and thin glass for serving Champagne or any sparkling wine, typically on a stem. Purpose made Champagne flutes with a rounded or tulip shaped cup, as they are known today, appear in the 1930s. Earlier flute glasses were tall, conical or flaring and handmade with a higher degree of charm.
Champagne saucer — this one is also known as coupe glass. Stem glass with a broad, saucer looking cup. It was the popular sparkling wine glass up to the 1930s. Ladies used a champagne twizzler (a small whisk shaped stick) to swirl the bubbles out of the wine, to avoid nose tickle. A flapper girl with a champagne saucer is an iconic image of the 1920s-30s Deco period.
Cheese dish — a platter with a lid for storing and serving cheese. Typically with a large domed lid over one or few cheese varieties. Traditionally almost always made of ceramic and glass.
Chestnut roaster — a metal container on a long handle for roasting chestnuts on an open fire. Typically made of brass, the container has holes and a hinged lid. The old versions are very decorative. True, you can roast chestnuts on a gas stove, but if you have access to a fireplace — only a fireplace will do.
Coaster — bottle and decanter coasters are used as stands at the dinner table. Typically these are pretty elaborate, well made and richly decorated. Often made in silver plate or silver with a wooden base, less commonly made in glass and ceramic. Wine bottle coasters can also be tall with side carry handles. Coaster also may refer to a cardboard beer coaster or a mat from a bar — if you collect these, you are called a tegestologist.
Cocktail shaker — an ingenious vessel for mixing drinks, typically alcoholic beverages. Commands an instant respect from your party guests. Vintage and antique cocktail shakers are super cool, especially from the 1920s-30s, the heyday of cocktail drinking. Main types of shakers are — the cobbler (it’s the most common one, three piece shaker with a strainer), Boston shaker (metal and glass cups conjoined), and a French shaker (two metal cups conjoined). Bartender’s tip — cocktails are popular, but only few actually know how to mix them properly. Learn to prepare some classical drinks so you don’t have to look for the recipe book (3 to 5 will suffice). This is, in fact, a cool social skill, as you will become an instant party star.
Coffee pot — a teapot, but usually of taller and slender proportions. Here’s an unusual fact — English romance with tea drinking started with coffee.
Cruet set — a set of utensils served at the dinner table and contains vessels with various condiments, typically salt, pepper, oil, mustard and other sauces. Old cruet sets are usually elaborate silver or silver plated stands with a handle, holding cut glass vessels.
Fire screen — a screen set in front of a fireplace to prevent sparkles flying into the room and logs rolling. Old fire screens often feature elaborate decorations. As a central part of a lounge, a drawing room or a reception, it is often an indispensable decorative accessory, whether you have a real or a feature fireplace.
Grape shears — scissors for cutting off grapevines. An integral part of a dessert where grapes are served. Each guest uses shears to take their portion of grapes. Shears are mainly made in silver and silver plated metal and very elaborately decorated. Good grape shears are a pleasure to use. If grape shears were served at the table, use them; you can’t pluck grapes with your fingers.
Hip or pocket flask — a small flat flask to hold your favourite alcoholic beverage on the go. Traditionally used for whisky on a cold day out and when horse riding in the countryside. Old flasks are often made of glass with cut decoration, and encased in silver, silver plate or leather, with a screw on and hinged cap to keep the beverage sealed.
Ice bucket — a vessel for holding cubed ice to be added to a drink. Best ice buckets are metal, silver or silver plate, glass or ceramic. Avoid plastic ice buckets at any cost, as they add an unpleasant aftertaste to the ice. Nowadays vintage cookie jars are perfect to be used as ice buckets. Not many people decant cookies but many still use ice, and ice is bartender’s best friend.
Ice pick — not something in much use nowadays, but often featured in high society murder mystery thrillers from the 1920s to the 60s. It’s a pointed steel pick for chopping off at a large ice slab, because in the older times ice was not served in pre-formed cubes. Ice pick has seen a revival as a novelty bar accessory in the trendy bars.
Inkwell — a mythological predecessor of a smartphone. A vessel or two that held a chemical compound used to create short and long distance messages. Nowadays a symbol of status and sophistication, also used in calligraphy.
Letter opener — typically a cool looking, highly decorated dull knife used for opening sealed envelopes. Heavily featured in murder mystery novels.
Napkin rings — a ring holding a rolled linen napkin when a dinner table is properly set. Napkin rings typically come in matching sets of six or more, in silver, silver plate, glass or ceramic, rarely wood, and can bear family initials.
Obelisk — a decorative architectural ornament in the shape of a tall thin pyramid, set on a mantle or on a desk. Obelisks often come in pairs and are made in marble or other stone with decorative veins. An effective decorative home accent, projecting sophistication. In the old times obelisk was typically a tourist memento from Italy, Greece or Egypt.
Page turner — an essential tool of any magician, sorcerer or just an avid book reader. Not useful for Kindle and e-books. Typically a very beautiful and richly decorated unusual looking tool used to turn pages of large folio books. Status builder? Definitely.
Punch bowl — a large bowl for serving mildly alcoholic beverages such as punch and eggnog, primarily at large parties and over Christmas gatherings. Usually made in glass, silver or silver plate, less commonly in ceramic. The drink is served with a ladle. It is a winter counterpart to the Pimms jug.
Tea sifter — a perforated spoon for sieving tea leaves while pouring tea from a teapot. Not useful when tea bags are used, but is necessary when serving a properly brewed tea. Tea bags on strings are often used as punch bags for beginner boxers.
Wine carrier — a type of a stand for serving wine bottles at the dinner table. Often designed to hold two or three bottles and has a carry handle. Wine carriers are mostly made in metal, silver or silver plated, brass or copper. It is very useful when serving different dessert wines. Usually lavishly decorated — an unquestionable status symbol.