Kitchen gadgets are a must for anyone who is serious about cooking – and that hasn’t changed in more than 100 years.
A collection of quirky kitchen instruments from Victorian Britain as well as the UD have gone on sale, giving an insight into the tricks many used by amateur cooks to make their lives easier in the kitchen at a time when few homes had electricity.
Despite relying on hand power, the gadgets – some of which have never been seen in public before – are far from rudimentary and include complicated food processors to chop food, a cake maker for the Mary Berry of the Victorian era, and even an ice cream maker.
It may look like a butter churn but this is in fact a Victorian ice cream maker, made by the OK brand. It’s roughly 100 years old
This is a rare mid-19th century device for chopping up food – a precursor to the modern-day electric food processors
Just like how top-of-the-range gadgets are sought after by keen cooks today, these devices were coveted by Victorians.
But unlike their modern counterparts, many of the gadgets were too expensive for most people to buy and were not highly reliable – so they rarely come up for sale.
But now 25 items of ‘kitchenalia’ which date from the late 19th and early 20th century have come up for auction, after being collected by Barry Harris, of Lincolnshire, over the last 40 years.
Before he retired, the top-end doll’s house miniatures maker used the gadgets to make exact 1:12 scale models with moving parts.
This strange looking device was used to slice up bread and bacon in the late 19th century
Another one of the quirky pieces of kitchenalia is this device which chops up tinned meat. It was made by the brand Enterprise
Both of these gadgets were used to mince meat the old-fashioned way – by putting the meat into the funnel at the top and turning the handle until it comes out the other side in mince form
The Mary Berry of the Victorian era would have had one of these. It’s a cake maker, made by Landers, Frary & Clark of New Britton Connecticut
He was a globally-renowned miniature maker with clients including wealthy stately home owners who commissioned exact replicas of their country piles.
Mr Harris has decided to sell some of the bizarre looking items he has amassed.
The incredible collection includes several chopping devices, including a rare mid-19th century model has a wooden base with a circular container on top that the user turned a handle to chop.
There is also a coffee grinder and several old fashioned coffee percolators, a cake maker, a pastry jigger, vegetable slicers, a flour sifter, a butter churn, a fruit press, an ice cream maker and a raisin stoner.
This device from the mid 19th century was used to grind coffee beans and was made by Kendrick & Sons of London
These Victorian coffee percolators were used to brew coffee in the 19th century. The percolator on the right is French-made and silver-plated, while the one on the left is tin
This is an Electric Light gadget for sifting flour made by Hunters – an American firm
This strange looking trinket is a steel pastry or pie jigger used by Victorians to crimp the edges of a pie
This gadget was used to remove the stones from raising in the late 19th or early 20th century
It make look like a weapon of torture but in fact this gadget dates as far back as the 18th century and are steel sugar ‘nips’ – designed to cut raw sugar
Fewer than 10 per cent of British households had electricity at the beginning of the 1920s, which meant cooks had to rely on plug-free devices to help them in the kitchen.
Alastair McPhie-Meiklejon, of auctioneers Golding, Young and Mawer based in Grantham, Lincs, said: ‘A lot of these items were really rare. They were the forerunners to the Kenwood Chef and food mixers that really didn’t exist before electric.
‘These companies were trying to create these kitchen aids and some of them are just charming.
A rare 19th century fruit press (left) – used to make juice – and a French-made 1 kilogram butter churn (right)
It looks like a sort of pipe but in fact this is a Victorian coffee pot and is roughly 100 years old
A Spong Patent universal slicer used to chop food (left), and a W R Americ medium sized mincer (right)
A rare 19th century potato and vegetable slicer is also part of the kitchenalia collection about to go on sale.
This grater (left) dates back to the late 19th century or early 20th century, while this impressive set of Librasco ebonised cast iron scales (right) also belongs to the same era
‘The way in which they are formed, they are the most ridiculously created things. They were mainly for high class establishments, especially in the US, they were at the forefront of this thing.
‘But the problem was you still had to do most of the work before you put it in these devices anyway.’
She added: ‘The vast majority were probably sold to estates who had two or three chefs and had to cook on a grand sale. They would have been catastrophically expensive when they were released.’
It is not known how much the gadgets will sell for as the auction house has struggled to put an estimated value on the devices.
But the auction house hopes the whole collection will sell for thousands of pounds, perhaps even reaching five figures.
The kitchenalia will be sold on Wednesday.