The mystery of the shallow bowls

silver plate objects
New acquisitions

Sunday afternoon was rainy, so our usual outdoor flea market was out of the question. We drove instead, a few miles farther to an indoor one, new on our radar.

On the whole, it was a bust. Few, if any, actual antiques, or even vintage items— unless you count things like toys and VHS tapes from the 1990s as such (which I do not; at best they are kitsch). Even the stall with loads of books comprised primarily the sort of titles not up my alley.

One of the outbuildings, though, had a single shelf of silver-plate; mostly tea items. The menagerie included the rather lovely late Art Nouveau butter dish and small bowl (above), for which I negotiated the price of a single tenner, inclusive of both. They were desperately tarnished, nearly solid black.

I recently learned that a similar vessel (of pewter, which I’ve used for some years as an ashtray) is an 18th century bleeding bowl, used in misguided attempts at relieving fever via bloodletting. A friend suggested, alternately, that it may be a porringer, or porridge bowl, When I googled, the same sort of images came up for both.

bleeding bowl, pewter
The pewter bowl

After a bit of research I’ve divined that a porringer is a sort of small, elaborate pot with handles on either side, very different to what we have here, although the word porringer is used interchangeably with ‘bleeding bowl’. The same interchange is not used, however, in reverse. Ergo, I’ve just acquired a second bleeding bowl— a silver-plate Queen Anne to be precise. Hurrah!

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