Victorian Silver Naturalistic Nutmeg Graters

Nutmeg played a role within eighteenth and nineteenth century society owing to its extreme rarity. As a result, having access to nutmeg was a direct display of wealth and acquiring a specific silver box to grate and house your nutmeg was pivotal. This post aims to focus on a specific type of silver nutmeg grater. Amongst the most valuable and sought-after nutmeg graters are the Victorian silver naturalistic examples.

What does this mean exactly?

During the mid-nineteenth century in England, there was great demand for novelty silver, often referred to as 'toys'. Silver 'toys' included, snuff boxes. vinaigrettes and also nutmeg graters.

Today, the most collected type of silver nutmeg grater are the naturalistic forms - a grater that takes its form from nature. These shapes include melons, walnuts, pears, strawberries, clam shells and even nutmegs themselves! The city of Birmingham was the centre of the silver 'toy' trade and specific makers are known exponents of the naturalistic form nutmeg grater. Firms include, Hilliard and Thomason (H&T), Taylor and Perry (T&P) and Yapp and Woodward (Y&W).

Depending on rarity and condition, the price of these types of nutmeg grater does vary dramatically, starting from a few thousand dollars, through to tens of thousands.

Below is a summary of some of the naturalistic nutmegs available, along with a 'rarity scale' and likely price guide (assuming excellent condition):

Strawberry nutmeg grater

Rarity scale: 10/10

Price guide: $$$$$

Pear nutmeg grater

Rarity scale: 8.5/10

Price guide: $$$$

Walnut nutmeg grater

Rarity scale: 7/10

Price guide: $$$

Clam shell nutmeg grater

Rarity scale: 5/10

Price guide: $$$

Nutmeg/mace nutmeg grater

Rarity scale: 5/10

Price guide: $$$

Melon nutmeg grater

Rarity scale: 3.5/10

Price guide: $$

Nutmeg graters are an excellent collecting field to focus on, for many reasons. A great collection can fit within a relatively small space, there are a wide array of graters to search for (in addition to the naturalistic types) and each is a unique work of art in itself.

I would suggest you buy the best that you can afford and condition is a key consideration as most graters were used and abused - stay clear of these!

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