Saucers or Sauce Boats?

Terzameron Day 13
April 2, 2020

Tessa Murdoch


We’ve got a guest for our series today—but don’t worry, she kept her social distance.


Tessa Murdoch is the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Research Curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. A prolific author and world renowned authority on silver, she was entertained by our earlier stories and kindly offered to contribute! Enjoy!


2018, the centenary of women’s suffrage, was an appropriate year to acquire silver with a woman’s maker’s mark. I was researching Huguenot Refugee Art and Culture for a forthcoming V&A book, and looking out for silver by Anne Tanqueray or Eliza Godfrey, both daughters of distinguished first-generation Huguenot goldsmiths established in London. Anne’s father was David Willaume from Metz and Eliza was the daughter of Simon Pantin, whose family came from Rouen.


Shrubsole’s Spring Catalogue included a pair of double-lipped sauce boats with Anne Tanqueray’s lozenge mark and date letter for London, 1726-7.



Anne, the dutiful daughter, married her father’s apprentice David Tanqueray. After her husband’s death in 1724, Anne continued the business as his widow. Anne is the earliest recorded Huguenot woman goldsmith to register her mark at London’s Goldsmiths’ Hall.


As a Trustee of the Huguenot Museum in Rochester Kent, I suggested that the pair might be acquired jointly by the V&A in partnership with the Huguenot Museum. The Huguenot Museum, established in 2015, had no acquisition fund as yet, so the director, Dr. Dinah Winch, raised an appeal with friends and supporters to acquire the sauce boat in memory of Randolph Vigne, the leading Huguenot scholar who died the previous year. Tim Martin assisted by obtaining a donation from a Shrubsole customer who was proud of their Huguenot descent.



For this “blog in the time of crisis,” here are two sauce recipes from the thirty included in the Huguenot Vincent La Chapelle’s The Modern Cook, published in London, 1733.


“A Sauce with Fennel and Gooseberries…commonly used with Mackarels”
“Take young Fennel, cut it very small, put it in a stew-pan with a little Butter and a dust of Flour season it with Pepper, Salt and Nutmeg, moisten it with a little gravy or Water, your sauce being thicken’d, throw in it your gooseberries blanch’d let it be of a good taste and use it with what you think fit.”


For the Onion Sauce:
“Put into a Stew-pan some Veal Gravy, with a couple of Onions cut in slices, season it with Pepper and Salt, let it stew softly, then strain it off; put it in a saucer, and serve it up hot.”


A saucer?  How much sauce would a saucer hold? Then the idea dawned on me that perhaps the handsome sauce boats that Shrubsole had supplied were known as saucers when they were made.


The Oxford English Dictionary confirms that instructions in The English and French Cook published in London in 1664 were to “send with the serving it up some Saucers of green sauce.” Fifty years later N. Bailey’s Universal Dictionary (1728) defines saucer as “a little Dish to hold sauce.”


Just twenty years on in The Art of Cookery, Hannah Glasse introduces the term sauce-boat for the first time: “You may do half the Quantity and put it into your Sauce boat or bason.”


The challenge now is to find a pre-1740s bill or invoice from a goldsmith for saucers!



Searching for the V&A’s Anne Tanqueray sauce boat online I was fascinated to discover photographs by Paul Tanqueray (1905-1991) a leading society photographer of the 1920s and 1930s. Here is his photograph of the actress Gertrude Lawrence. Was he a descendant of Anne Tanqueray?


Certainly, Tanqueray Gin, founded in the 1830s by a direct descendant of the goldsmith couple David and Anne Tanqueray, remains one of the most popular brands on both sides of the pond!

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