(click on photos to enlarge image)
EATING APPLES, THE ELEGANT WAY
Most apple corers were made from turned wood, bone or
ivory. The silver apple corer is a rarity. Only the affluent
could afford to have kitchenware made of silver. Oblivious of
the concept of bacteria, the germ-fighting properties of silver
were known since ancient times (note
The oldest extant apple corer dates to 1682. It is pictured
in Michael Clayton's Dictionary
(note 2) and was just recently sold as part of the
James Walker collection (note
Turned wood apple corer
It features stiff leaf engraving where the blade meets the
handle. The handle is equipped with a detachable caster at the
end. Another late 17th century apple corer, probably Irish,
features the same leaf decoration on the cylindrical shaft. It
still comes with its contemporary shagreen case
A few eighteenth century examples have surfaced. There is an
apple corer made by Maurice Fitzgerald, dating to ca. 1760-1800
in the Limerick City Museum
(note 5). Notable is an apple corer engraved with royal
arms, having belonged to one of the daughters of George III
Irish apple corer with contemporary case ca.1690
Both examples are devoid of decoration and feature applied
moldings on the cylindrical shaft. But there are not enough
examples known to make meaningful remarks about a style change
from seventeenth to the eighteenth century.
George I apple corer, ca.1726 (courtesy
Christies New York)
The majority of silver apple corers date to the nineteenth and
beginning of twentieth century. Utilitarian in form, their
handles are silver cylinders, but also often wood or ivory - the
latter frequently stained green.
Their sizes vary from 4 ½ to 6 inches.
(top) Apple corer made by John Taylor,
(below) Apple corer made by R. & S.Henell,
Some of the apple corers are so small and of rather thin gauge
that they were likely used for removing foul parts of the apple
than coring it.
An often seen variation is the "traveling" apple corer; the
blade unscrews and fits neatly into the handle.
Apple corer made by S.Pemberton, Birmingham
1807, sheath marked only
This design seems much more practical for slipping into a
pocket when going to the orchard or taking it along on a picnic.
An even more useful design is the apple corer with integral
knife. Another example of similar design but with an ivory
handle, fitted with the knife and the blade on opposite ends was
sold in the James Walker sale
Two traveling apple corers - open
Two traveling apple corers - closed
Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian apple corers are marked on
the blade - mostly on the inside - with a full set of marks.
Examples hallmarked with only maker's mark, tax mark and lion
passant are acceptable. The silver handles are mostly stamped
with a lion passant only.
Apple corer with integral knife, made by
Joseph Willmore, Birmingham 1820
By far the most extant apple corers were made by Joseph Willmore,
Birmingham, but examples from all the other "toy" makers such as
S. Pemberton, J. Taylor, etc. are found.
In London the firm of Phipps and Robinson seemed to specialize
in small kitchenware items, as many kitchen nutmeg graters etc.
are found with this mark.
American apple corers are even rarer. One known example, ca.
1820, was made by Thomas Charles Fletcher, Philadelphia - it is
somewhat sturdier in design than English examples with a broader
sheath and equipped with an ivory handle.
Christie's New York offered an apple corer in their January 16,
2003 sale. It was made by Thomas Hammersley of New York and
dated to ca. 1760, but stayed unsold.
Another example together with a wine siphon
struck with a TH mark and originally attributed
to Thomas Hammersley is found in the Heritage
Foundation Collection of silver, Historic
Martha Gandy Fales remarks that the apple corer
is a typical nineteenth century form for
American silver and declares the attribution to
Thomas Hammersley to be doubtful.
A twentieth century variation of the apple corer
was made by Asprey & Co, both in silver plate
and sterling silver. Whenever I show my examples
"proudly" to friends, my pleasure is mostly
marred because it invariably elicits the remark:
"I have one just like that in stainless steel,
it cost me 50 cents."
on the right: A twentieth century variation of the apple corer
made by Asprey & Co