17th Century Antique Silver Nutmeg Grater


Stock: 10333

Date: Circa 1690

Country: England

An attractive little collector’s item. A silver nutmeg grater of cylindrical form, the tube containing a steel grater. The pull...

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An attractive little collector’s item. A silver nutmeg grater of cylindrical form, the tube containing a steel grater. The pull off lid is hand engraved with the Tudor rose and the tube has the hatched decoration typical for small silver objects dating back to the final quarter of the 1600’s.

Silver weight 14g, about half a troy oz.
Length 6.1cm. Diameter 2cm.
Maker mark I.I.
English circa 1690.
Sterling silver.

Marks. Unmarked silver. Maker’s mark “I.I” stamped on the base. Possibly the John Innes mentioned in David Mitchell’s “Silversmiths in Elizabethan and Stuart London”. The earliest examples were unmarked or makers mark only.

Literature. Prior to the development of the nutmeg grater box in circa 1670, nutmeg was grated at the table using a steel grater. Early nutmeg graters were either heart shaped or teardrop form, of small size just large enough to contain a nutmeg. The box had two hinged lids, top and bottom, one side with the steel grater, the other containing the grated spice. Other early forms include the tubular variety with pull off lid and silver sleeve, and the rare silver mounted cowrie shell with strapwork mounted grater. During the 18th century designs progressed to include both functional and very charming novelty and decorative varieties. The use and manufacture of nutmeg graters was circa 1650-1865 (ref. Eric Delieb “Investing in Silver”) but the earliest fully marked boxes didn’t arrive before circa 1697. The nutmeg originated from the Indies and is mentioned in early literature as a fumigation against the plague.


The silver box is in very good condition. The engravings are still sharp. Shows minor wear commensurate with age. The grater has a bit of discolouration.

Maker Information

No maker assigned

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