I've been reading a specialty forum on silver to learn a little bit more about some sterling items that I have. There's a whole new language involved. They are currently discussing a "biggin", which is a type of coffee pot. The biggin is the muslin bag that held the ground coffee and was suspended in the pot. The entire pot is also called a biggin.
While the ones under discussion are sterling or plate, my grandmother used to take a blue, kind of spotted enamel, coffee pot to picnics. She'd put the ground coffee in a bag and suspend it in the pot like a tea bag and then bring the water to boil over the fire.

I'm still trying to figure out what a "charger" is. I know it's a flat dish, but I can't figure out how it differs from any other flat sterling or plate dish.
The silver group is very refined. (And I make that pun deliberately) Their version of an OY! is for someone to call the silver mark on American silver a "hallmark", but they are gentle about it.

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I'm still trying to figure out what a "charger" is. I know it's a flat dish, but I can't figure out how it differs from any other flat sterling or plate dish.

A charger is a large plate upon which the plates bearing food (service plates) and various bowls, etc. are placed in a formal service. At no time is food placed directly on the charger. If you encounter a complete set of formal dinnerware, the chargers are simply the largest plates. The charger is the center of the place setting and is in place when the guests are seated. Generally it remains throughout the meal and the various courses are placed on the charger and removed in turn. In the limited number of services I have seen, I get the impression that most chargers curve upwards at the rim and most service plates are relatively flattish. I suppose this helps to prevent the service plate from skidding off the charger.

I guess the original idea of the charger was that it would be something of a buffer between the dishes bearing food and the table cloth. Napkin rings, originally, were intended to enable people to identify their own napkins, as clean napkins were not provided at every meal. So perhaps the table cloth was not changed very often either.

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I've been reading a specialty forum on silver to learn a little bit more about some sterling items that I ... bag that held the ground coffee and was suspended in the pot. The entire pot is also called a biggin.

I had never heard of this term before - to me, biggin only suggests "Biggin Hill", where there used to be an airshow.
For the connection to the muslin bag, maybe it derives from this kind of cap:
Biggin-A large muslin cap, like a mob cap, with a frilled edge worn by mature women for informal daywear.
http://www.regencygarderobe.com/glossary.htm
The name seems to come from "Beguine"
Does a "biggin" as a coffee pot have a particular shape, does it get the name because it is expected to have the muslin bag in it? I don't know - the only definitions of "biggin" as a pot that I could find, referred to a kettle on a stand, but I don't know whether the stand is obligatory.

http://www.rauantiques.com/product.asp?invCategoryID=1&Page=2&Criteria= http://tinyurl.com/2ogms
Is there some kind of standard Glossary of Terms for antique silverware?
While the ones under discussion are sterling or plate, my grandmother used to take a blue, kind of spotted enamel, ... it's a flat dish, but I can't figure out how it differs from any other flat sterling or plate dish.

It's a large flat serving dish, but I don't know if there is a technical definition that is more specific.
I have a friend who is an authority on nineteenth century earthenware (as an archaeologist, not as an antique dealer, or collector); he once compiled a list of terms for small earthenware plates, as used in 19th century bills from china manufacturers. I forget how many different terms there were, but it filled several pages. For me, they could all have been covered by "small plate"
The silver group is very refined. (And I make that pun deliberately) Their version of an OY! is for someone to call the silver mark on American silver a "hallmark", but they are gentle about it.

That "oy!" business just strikes me as rude, so I would hope that it is avoided elsewhere.

Frances Kemmish
Production Manager
East Coast Youth Ballet
www.byramartscenter.com
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I've been reading a specialty forum on silver to learn ... the pot. The entire pot is also called a biggin.

I had never heard of this term before - to me, biggin only suggests "Biggin Hill", where there used to ... could find, referred to a kettle on a stand, but I don't know whether the stand is obligatory. http://www.rauantiques.com/product.asp?invCategoryID=1&Page=2&Criteria=

Here are three quotes from the forum:
"A lovely and interesting piece. The form is known as a Biggin after the man who is said to have invented it in Sheffield. I saw one in a plate collection in England years ago and actually used a modern (1960ish) version while in Boy Scouts. I have never seen one in silver"
"The first impulse is to call the piece a biggen, because that is a better known form, but I think that the term has been somewhat loosely used. The term seems to have had various applications until the 18th Century, when, according to my information, the term was applied to cylindrical one piece units having a short spout at the top opposite the handle, with a suspension device inside to hold the actual biggin, which was a muslin bag containing the coffee - sort of like a modern teabag. They were made in England in silver and Sheffield plate until c.1820."
"Fales (Early American Silver) states that coffee biggins as such are unknown in American silver, and that while one New York maker (Thomas Warren,listed in Darling as an importer, c.1805-7) did advertise "silver coffee pots and biggins", there are no known surviving examples. There is no indication of what they may have looked like. "
Is there some kind of standard Glossary of Terms for antique silverware?

Most books on silver have a Glossary included. The basic terms are covered, but new ones pop up in my reading. That's part of the fun.
While the ones under discussion are sterling or plate, my ... it differs from any other flat sterling or plate dish.

It's a large flat serving dish, but I don't know if there is a technical definition that is more specific.

Lars says otherwise. He seems to know.
The silver group is very refined. (And I make that ... American silver a "hallmark", but they are gentle about it.

That "oy!" business just strikes me as rude, so I would hope that it is avoided elsewhere.

It doesn't bother me, but I think the OY! should always be accompanied by an explanation. Don't leave the OY!ee hang out to dry.
The Web Bloodhound: http://home.earthlink.net/~tony cooper213/icanbeglitzy.html
I'm still trying to figure out what a "charger" is. ... it differs from any other flat sterling or plate dish.

A charger is a large plate upon which the plates bearing food (service plates) and various bowls, etc. are placed ... as clean napkins were not provided at every meal. So perhaps the table cloth was not changed very often either.

A very good, and complete, explanation. How, then, is a charger different from/than a tray? I would not expect the serving tray to be left on the table.

The Web Bloodhound: http://home.earthlink.net/~tony cooper213/icanbeglitzy.html
That "oy!" business just strikes me as rude,

Oh dear! I seldom read threads in this newsgroup about one subject that don't provoke questions about another, often unrelated one!

Now about this 'oy!' business:
I was aware that it's a common exclamation among 'lower class' Brits. A Cockney phrase I assumed. And I was also aware of the yiddish or at least Jewish 'oy-vey!'. But somehow I hadn't got around to wondering of there was any connection between the two until now. Is it possible that the same exclamation with the same meaning developed independently in two languages?
I know of one instance where this has happened.
Perhaps 'oy!' is another?
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I've been reading a specialty forum on silver to learn a little bit more about some sterling items that I ... bag that held the ground coffee and was suspended in the pot. The entire pot is also called a biggin.

Oh My. What a delight of linguistic relations you have led me to. I previously knew Biggin as part of Biggin Hill, the RAF station that became famous during WW2. OED has 'biggin' for the entire pot of the type which includes a strainer. And credits a Mr Biggin with inventing it and giving it his name:
>
So I must imagine a tea party where subversive elements are trying to introduce coffee where a traditionalist says 'Shall I be Mother?' and a newbie says 'No, it's Biggin's turn'.
But OED also has 'biggin' for 'a child's cap' from French béguin which, yes, derives from the Beguines, the réligieuses who wore such a cap. So you could give coffee to a Nun and be said to be Biggining the Beguine. O joy.
I'm still trying to figure out what a "charger" is. I know it's a flat dish, but I can't figure out how it differs from any other flat sterling or plate dish.

I've known 'charger' for a while. It differs from a tray in that a tray is expected to have slightly raised sides, to prevent slideage, whereas I see chargers as flat. And it differs from other flat platters in size. I don't suppose there is a '29 inches good. thirty inches bad' school of plattery, but there is some cut-off point at which a simple platter becomes a charger. It's the kind of thing you need two hands to carry and it appears in all the Robin Hood movies where a servant brings in the roast goose / boar's head / new-fangled blancmange into the Sheriff's banquet.
John Dean
Oxford
It's a large flat serving dish, but I don't know if there is a technical definition that is more specific.

Lars says otherwise. He seems to know.

That reads a bit more blunt than I intended. I didn't mean to say you were wrong, but to say that the definition Lars provided was more extensive and did say that food was not served from the charger. The serving dish would sit on the charger when it was brought in.

No rudeness intended.

The Web Bloodhound: http://home.earthlink.net/~tony cooper213/icanbeglitzy.html
I had never heard of this term before - to me, biggin only suggests "Biggin Hill", where there used to be an airshow.

(Major snip)
Frances Kemmish Production Manager East Coast Youth Ballet www.byramartscenter.com

RAF Biggin Hill: Played a central part in the Battle of Britain; so I suppose you could say "there used to be an airshow".

Cheers, Sage
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