Silver in the New Spain dining rooms

The Mexican gastronomic culture is the heir to these complex and centuries-old cultural processes. Banquets during the viceroyalty era were the ideal spaces for families to use and expose amazing pieces of silverware.

Jarra de pico (1700) by Fianagalli F.Museo Franz Mayer

Silver extraction was the main economic activity of the viceroyalty.

It produced ingots, minted coins and medals, and made extraordinary pieces of gold work.

Bandeja para sangrías (1800)Museo Franz Mayer

Fuente (1700) by Eugenio BatánMuseo Franz Mayer

In addition, silversmith guilds were among the most powerful corporations in New Spain.

As an expensive material, the silver works exhibited during the banquets showed the social prestige and wealth of the hosts.

Jofaina (1800) by José María MartínezMuseo Franz Mayer

Bandeja (1700)Museo Franz Mayer

Service items such as jars, coffee pots, tureens, ladles, silver plates and cutlery were arranged on the tables.

Vinajera (1600) by Autor desconocidoMuseo Franz Mayer

Table accessories were also laid out, which were complementary objects intended for specific needs, such as saltcellars, oil cruets, vinegar cruets, salsa dishes, candlesticks and napkin rings.

Vinajera (1700) by Autor desconocidoMuseo Franz Mayer

Especiero by Autor desconocidoMuseo Franz Mayer

However, noble families would reserve the pieces worked more delicately to display on the gold works display cabinets.

Cucharas (1800) by José María MartínezMuseo Franz Mayer

These consisted of ephemeral scenery consisting of planks seated on benches and superimposed, thus resulting in a semi-pyramidal staggered structure.

Jofaina (1800) by Autor desconocidoMuseo Franz Mayer

Fuente (1700) by Eugenio BatánMuseo Franz Mayer

On top of them were platters, trays (oval dishes or of mixed profiles, adorned with low reliefs), fruit bowls (wide vessels in the shape of a bowl, inspired by the Greek kraters), food warmers and pieces of filigree.

Plato (1800) by Autor desconocidoMuseo Franz Mayer

Vaso by Autor desconocidoMuseo Franz Mayer

The display counters used to be located behind the head of the table, so that diners could admire the family treasures.

Salsera con cucharón (1800) by Francisco GalvánMuseo Franz Mayer

Sopera (1800) by José María MartínezMuseo Franz Mayer

Through this collection of silver pieces, we can see pieces of stories that take us to the homes of New Spain and their customs at meal times. Regardless of the passing of the years, the dining room has been a place of identity and communion for Mexicans.

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