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Posted: Fri Jul 13, 2007 7:58 pm
by wev
I for one am quite suspicious about the claimed purpose. It is contrary to Victorian dining habits, especially at the level of society that could afford such trifles., to say nothing of the hash it would make gnawing its way through the soft flesh of a cuc.
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Posted: Sat Jul 14, 2007 5:41 am
by Granmaa
Wev, you must remember that there are so few of these that they support your theory of contradiction to contemporary dining habits. No-one could claim that every Victorian table had one; their rarity suggests that they were bought as a jokey item, perhaps to amuse ones guests at dinner/lunch.

As for its efficacy in cutting cucumbers, there's only one conclusive way to find out. Anyone have one?

Miles
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Posted: Sat Jul 14, 2007 9:48 am
by Doos
Hi,

Although silver is soft, if you hammer it down it can get pretty hard. Surely hard enough to cut through a cucumber.
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Posted: Sat Jul 14, 2007 10:11 am
by wev
I have no doubt that it would cut; that is not the point. In 1885, cucumbers were not carved at table like a turkey. They were pickled, soured, sauced, or stewed, not served in the whole except perhaps as decoration. At tea they were served in sandwiches, of course, sliced as thinly as possible (which requires a very sharp broad bladed knife), but would not be prepared at table. It makes more sense, given the masculinity inherent in the object, that it was something clever for the gentleman's port and cheese table. Perhaps someone will find an advertisement or such that will dissuade me, but until then I reject the claim. As for the auction house, I generally assume they don't know what they are talking about and am seldom disappointed.
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Posted: Sat Jul 14, 2007 11:37 am
by Doos
Hi,

It could very well be that everyone is quoting from the same unreliable source, but the gimic idea is also plausible.
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Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 9:51 am
by Bahner
Hello, there are probably only very few experts on Victorian eating habits out there. There is one, though, I would like to draw Your attention to: Oscar Wilde. A re-reading of "The importance of being Earnest" (it's on the internet) might disclose surprising evidence re the importance of cucumber sandwiches in those times. So maybe it IS a cucumber saw ? Best wishes, Bahner
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Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 11:31 am
by agcollect

Posted: Sat Sep 15, 2007 8:20 pm
by Granmaa
I have come across an item described as a "Georgian cucumber slice". I don't have a photo, but googling "mandolin cucumber slice" will give you one example. It has a silver blade and the body is made of ivory. Surely this must be for table use rather than kitchen: particularly considering the crest on the googled example.

If these items were indeed for cucumbers, then it means they were prepared at the table which in turn makes the "cucumber saw" much more likely.

Miles

Here is Samuel Johnson's advice on the preperation of cucumbers:
A cucumber should be well sliced, and dressed with pepper and vinegar, and then thrown out, as good for nothing.

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What-is-it question LX

Posted: Sun Sep 16, 2007 3:38 pm
by kerangoumar
I guess there's a certain irony in using a silver saw on your sandwich fixins given that silver nitrate, sprayed onto gynoecious (all-female) cucumber plants, results in a profusion of perfect flowers and therefore many, many cucumbers
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What-is-it question LX

Posted: Fri Sep 21, 2007 4:50 pm
by kerangoumar
I have thought it over quite carefully. Whatever the saw is for, it is not for mangling cucumbers at table. At the time of this item's manufacture, cucumbers were grown in glass houses and conservatories using a glass trumpet to ensure the straightness of the vegetable; when the cucumbers were sliced they were sliced with a mandoline or a special slicer; the cucumber was put into a 'holding cell' as it were, a tube that held the cucumber horizontally while the cook pushed it forward and a rotating slicer peeled off ultra thin , therefore culturally correct, cucumber slices.

Think of the mess this saw would have made at table! In a society that used one's ability to navigate a cucumber sandwich as proof of one's gentility such a barbaric instrument never would have been used.
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Posted: Fri Sep 21, 2007 5:41 pm
by Granmaa
I can't quite imagine if the saw would make a mess or not; I'd dearly love to try. If they were not used at the table, perhaps at a picnic where formality could be relaxed.

Remember, these are not common items so we can't really identify it with our knowledge of Victorian dining etiquette: if anything their scarcity would suggest that they are contrary to the normal habits.

Another option, added to Wev's cheese saw, is a grape vine cutter as an alternative to grape shears.

Miles
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What-is-it question LX

Posted: Sat Sep 22, 2007 1:15 am
by kerangoumar
maybe it was part of a jaded child's toy construction set.
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Posted: Thu Oct 09, 2008 7:24 pm
by CrystalGecko76
I was going to guess at a Liqourice Saw (cause they are quite woody)
Crystal
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Posted: Fri Oct 10, 2008 6:48 am
by CrystalGecko76
Or another thought...didn't the Victorians/Edwardians enjoy Bone Marrow? Perhaps it is a saw to chop the bone down a bit so they can use a scoop to get at the Marrow.
Crystal
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Posted: Tue Oct 14, 2008 5:05 pm
by kerangoumar
i can't see silver cutting through bone can you?
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Posted: Sat May 16, 2009 4:36 pm
by admin
Believe Trev got it right, way back at the beginning of this thread.
From, the 1899 Trade Catalogue of the Goldsmiths and Silversmiths Company, London.
http://www.925-1000.com/b_g&sCo_CAT1899.html
Image
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Posted: Sun May 17, 2009 12:40 pm
by Granmaa
Well found Tom.

Miles
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Cucumer Saw...

Posted: Sat May 23, 2009 4:49 pm
by mizzllat
The cucumber saw was, indeed, a novelty item, used pretty much only by the British (those oh-so jovial folk just love their cuke sandwiches at tea, eh?). One can find a short list of them posted on the Christie's website, with use of such recorded between the Victorian and Edwardian eras. After that, I suppose, with the war and widespread poverty, such overtly indulgent items passed to the wayside. (admin edit - see Posting Requirements)
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