FINE VICTORIAN SILVER & CARVED IVORY STILTON CHEESE SCOOP
Mappin & Webb, Sheffield, 1878
The heavy shovel form scoop wave-engraved to the shaft with beaded and finely gadrooned ferrule,
the ivory handle with anthemion carved terminal
Condition: Excellent; minor age shrinkage crack to ivory handle; excellent quality and weight; crisp marks
Stilton cheese, introduced c1720, is named for the village of Stilton, about 80 miles north of London -
although it was never made there. In the 18th century, the town of Stilton was a staging post for coaches,
where horses were changed and weary travelers sought refreshment en route to Scotland and other Northern cities.
In fact, the inn owners vied with one another to see who could provide the swiftest service and best food. Cooper Thornhill,
the landlord of the famous Bell Inn, introduced these travelers to the creamy, blue-veined cheese, which he purchased from
cheese maker, Frances Pawlett of nearby Melton Mowbray. In 1789, Mr. Thornhill, being something of an entrepreneur,
staged an illegal bare-knuckle boxing match, erecting a tent for over 3000 spectators, many of whom were impeccably
dressed gentlemen in frock coats and high collars. As wine, bread and Stilton cheese were plentiful, perhaps some gentleman
bent his silver spoon and determined to have his silversmith to invent the new implement. This is conjecture, but Stilton
cheese scoops appears shortly thereafter in 1790. They were popular until c1914, when wedges of cheese
replaced the whole of half Stilton wheel.
Stilton, the King of Cheeses, is best served at room temperature, needing a curved implement for serving without crumbling.
It is still made in much the same way as it was in the early 1700's, when a local Wymondham saying became popular:
"Drink a pot of ale, eat of scoop of Stilton, every day, you will make 'old bones'."
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