Fids... for sailory, piratey types and people wot use ropes.

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Fids... for sailory, piratey types and people wot use ropes.

Postby Grymm » Wed Sep 21, 2011 9:52 pm

On the subject of fids...

I work at Hampton Court Palace doing their Tudor Cookery demos and I'm always interested in 'old' style kitchen implements so when I saw a bone 'apple corer' on a stall at one of the big 'nacters markets here in the UK I thought I'd give it a go so I bought it


From these lovely people at Bikkel en Been http://www.bikkelenbeen.com/nl/home/


Image


Tons of them turn up in digs from 9th-10thC onwards


Image


and I've always seen them called apple corers but here's the thing, after buying one I and trying it out on apples and pears (Yes it does work pretty well) a thought hit me, in 20 odd years of doing historical cooking from muddyevil right up to WWII ration book stuff I can count the number of recipes that only call for coring an apple, rather than coring and chopping which can be done easily with a knife, on the fingers of both hands!


I think they may be fids, they just get called corers coz they look like 20thC corers....some may actually be corers but I think the majority would be for rope or straw rope work, compare them to modern Swedish fids


Image


Or Skep (Old school beehives) making tools like in the pic at the bottom of this pagehttp://www.martinatnewton.com/page2.htm
(I did post an image up but this stupid board doesn't auto size the pics like every other board I use does and it was HUGE)

When the tip wears away or they get too blunt to work with they get binned, that or the material is so plentiful that y'ent worried if you loose it, and a new one is made out of the left-overs of todays dinner, roast leg o'mutton.


Just a theory, pro'ly the ramblings of a diseased mind as usual, but I thought I'd bung it out there see what you lot thought and see if any of the sailory/piratey rope workers out there fancies knocking one up and giving it a whirl?
I would but I'm crap at it.


Time to up the meds again methinks...........


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Re: Fids... for sailory, piratey types and people wot use ro

Postby Saint Egregious » Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:34 pm

I was at first Skep-tical, but now I see that you are on to something. Good thinking. I might just have a go at making one, I have a ton of bamboo. But first I must learn how to use one, a friends into bees, a woven type hive might make a great Christmas present. Or a mudman mask.Thanks for the information.

Try the purple ones with the yellow banding.


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Re: Fids... for sailory, piratey types and people wot use ro

Postby Saint Egregious » Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:42 pm

Found an article on how to make different types of fids.

http://www.ropeworks.biz/reader/fid.pdf


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Re: Fids... for sailory, piratey types and people wot use ro

Postby Saint Egregious » Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:50 pm

Video of a chap making a skep useing the ho;;ow shaped fid like the ones in Mr.Grymm's pictures.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6qECcCRdUc


I just have to try this!


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Re: Fids... for sailory, piratey types and people wot use ro

Postby Saint Egregious » Thu Sep 22, 2011 12:23 am



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Re: Fids... for sailory, piratey types and people wot use ro

Postby sally » Thu Sep 22, 2011 8:55 am

as I understand it, a lot of these are not so much for coring apples in the kitchen, but at table for scooping out easily managed morsels that can easily be eaten even with poor teeth. They are often called apple scoops as well as apple corers in some collection records. I've got a couple myself, one in bone with a pointy end (that we do indeed use for any purpose where it fits the requirement, including as a strong pokey thing for fibre work) and a more conventional blunt ended one in boxwood that tends to just get used on fruit. My own feeling is that the blunt ended ones wouldnt be that much use as a fid



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Re: Fids... for sailory, piratey types and people wot use ro

Postby Alan E » Thu Sep 22, 2011 9:59 am

Dorothy Hartley 'Food in England' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Hartley) says "The shank bone of a sheep, cut slanting and filed smooth, makes the best apple scoop. It doesn't rust, bend or discolour the fruit". I expect she was writing that from experience so they definitely are apple scoops in some cases rather then just "looking like modern scoops". Doesn't mean they were not other things as well of course and they look particularly handy for fids.


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Re: Fids... for sailory, piratey types and people wot use ro

Postby Grymm » Thu Sep 22, 2011 5:29 pm

This is thinking out loud, not doing anyone down or dismissing their ideas, just think of it as a discussion over a virtual beer (cup of tea and a slice of cake etc) there is no right or wrong just thrashing out possibilities.

Like I said, just a theory. I've been through loads of possibilities and I still keep coming back to why!

Yes they could be a scoop, but why use one if you have a knife which will process the apple so much easier plus you'd need a fairly stout knife take the meat off, process/eat the mutton in the first place and to make the thing. Plus if your teeth are that bad you'd have to peel the apple, and it won't do that, or cook'em and mash 'em in a mortar.

Over the years I've learned to take Ms Hartley's writings* with a(large) pinch of salt, when she is talking from experience it tends to be 1930s-50s Yorkshire or the bit of Wales she lived in, she makes huge leaps of faith with stuff and often she fails to give sources or proof,but that's just me.

Again, like I said I've used it as (Derek) a corer and it does a fair job, it does have a tendancy to split the apple if you don't 'wind' it in slowly and even on small 'funsized' pippins it takes two bites of the proverbial cher...erm apple once from each end to remove a core easily next time we roast mutton,which may be quite soon.....Mmmmmmmmmmroast mutton, I'll have the bone and have a go at making a longer one see if that helps, plus to be really effective I'd need to thin the bone down to an edge all the way up to the horizontal cut

Some other possible uses could be;
A marrow scoop for taking bone marrow out of big bones.
A guide for filling gut when stuffing sausages.
The website of a well known Anglo-Saxon group has it as a possible cheese tester.
Any and all of the above, a useful multipurpose thing.
Possible horse harness or religeous/ritual purposes :wink:

Gwan, some of you lot make one, see what you can use it for :D

Mebbe I should've bunged it in General History gubbins, waddaya think MODs?



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Re: Fids... for sailory, piratey types and people wot use ro

Postby Alan E » Fri Sep 23, 2011 11:03 am

Grymm wrote:...
Over the years I've learned to take Ms Hartley's writings* with a(large) pinch of salt, when she is talking from experience it tends to be 1930s-50s Yorkshire or the bit of Wales she lived in, she makes huge leaps of faith with stuff and often she fails to give sources or proof,but that's just me.
...
*Take a gander at her Medieval Costume and Life and see how much still holds up today.

No argument with that at all! She was a lady who ranged around quite a bit, with an interest in how people she met cooked; she is as guilty however as anyone of the time in terms of assumptions regarding medieval life - and the inherited Victorian attitudes to that.

OTOH when she says "I have tried this ..." I do tend to believe her, so her specific liking for and listing the advantages of* a bone scoop/corer to core apples I thought was worth mentioning. Certainly is not evidence that it was used as such in medieval period (I don't think she was that old)!

We have some (rather large) lamb shank bones from last night :D I'll try cutting and sharpening them sometime :P .

*DH does hark back to ways of cooking that were at the time of publication, becoming 'old fashioned', which may explain this preference. It is worth remembering though that before the advent of inexpensive stainless steel, the advantages she lists would be more important than they necessarily seem now.


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Re: Fids... for sailory, piratey types and people wot use ro

Postby Langley » Fri Sep 23, 2011 4:27 pm

What do we know of the context of the finds? Lots in kitchens = corer or scoops, lots in smelly mud on riverbanks = fids surely?



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Re: Fids... for sailory, piratey types and people wot use ro

Postby Saint Egregious » Sat Sep 24, 2011 9:28 pm

Some examples of early apple cores. Or very, very expensive fids. No, no these really are apple corers!

http://www.ascasonline.org/articoloMARZ78.html


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Re: Fids... for sailory, piratey types and people wot use ro

Postby Saint Egregious » Sat Sep 24, 2011 9:33 pm

I found the descriptions for the artefacts in Mr.Grymm's second photograph.

Antique bone apple corers.


The first is a plain unadorned scoop with no decoration.

Second is a scoop showing a saw-cut cross, a very common form of decoration.

The third scoop shows slightly more complex cross-hatching, again done with a saw

The fourth is more complex and accomplished

The fifth is where the owner has really gone to town with a saw and a drill!

The sixth is more organic in design and more difficult to achieve

The seventh is a typical example showing the owner’s initials, in this case ‘W.B’

Number eight; now we get really complicated! This scoop has carved on it ‘JG July
30th 1853 ME, and on the shaft ‘Remember’. What lovers’ tryst resulted in this being
skilfully carved: one can only imagine….

Number nine is clearly a love token: dated 1771, with a prominent heart carved on it
and three further hearts on the reverse, plus the initials AC. A very professional piece
of work

Ten is another mystery: The initials M and H are separated by two hearts with the date
1856 below. What you cannot see from this photo is that on the shaft is carved ‘Here
we suffer grief and pain: here we meet to part again : Goodnight’. I suspect this one
does not signify a happy occasion.

The cut-out carving on number eleven is again of hearts and nares (nostrils), elements
which figure frequently on Welsh love spoons. Around the top are carved a hen and
two chicks!

The scoop with the wooden top ( bottom of the photo) obviously has some
ecclesiastical connections: why the cross? What is the significance of the carved
crown? I don’t know.

Finally, here’s one to think about: The whitish scoop with the fancy initials on it
is carved from ivory, but it mimics the sheep- bone examples. Why carve such a
thing in ivory? Perhaps it comes down to fitness for purpose, and maybe a member
of the gentry saw a servant using a bone scoop to good effect and had it copied in a
more ‘upmarket’ material!


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Re: Fids... for sailory, piratey types and people wot use ro

Postby Saint Egregious » Sat Sep 24, 2011 9:37 pm



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Re: Fids... for sailory, piratey types and people wot use ro

Postby Saint Egregious » Sat Sep 24, 2011 9:38 pm



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Re: Fids... for sailory, piratey types and people wot use ro

Postby peasant002 » Sat Oct 01, 2011 12:01 am

I have just been introduced to this forum, it's late so some quick notes. I have actively collected old apple corers for a number of years, I now have a collection of 27 mainly all sheep metapodials, two are possibly goat and one is a deer metapodial. All those used are staind red/brown colour from the apple juice. (Sally) they are all TOO small for scoops/spoons. Mrs Hartley was correct (Allan), bone was used for a number of reasons. 1) It's cheap and was plentyful. 2)Does not stain the apple like carbon stell implements. 3) Can be carved/worked and shaped easily. Those with more elaborate decoration and initials were mostly Love Tokens, these were mainly made by poor farmhands and were extensively used into the Victorian Period and beyond. I also have an elaborate travelling type that screws together and 2 very fine turned corers similar to the silver ones posted by Saint Egregious. Most modern cooking apples, (Bramleys), are TOO big for the older corers in my collection. The Peasants use some of the more robust ones in their demonstrations.



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Re: Fids... for sailory, piratey types and people wot use ro

Postby Foxe » Fri Nov 18, 2011 10:29 pm

How did I miss this?!

I'm unconvinced by the fid idea based on the photos in the OP. They're all far too blunt to be fids. I have gone through many Swedish fids over the years because they have a nasty tendency of bending at the point. Bone would eliminate this problem, but it shows just how much the very point is used. It is possible that the examples shown were originally sharper and have worn down, but they'd have been useless as fids long before they wore to their present levels of bluntness. Furthermore, the one with the wooden top appears to begin to flare out just before the tip, indicating that it definitely wasn't pointed originally.

Having said all that, I really think a bone Swedish fid would be a great idea, so if anybody fancies making me one I'll give it a go and see how it works out. I might eventually get around to making one myself, but it's at the bottom of a long list...


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Re: Fids... for sailory, piratey types and people wot use ro

Postby Grymm » Sun Nov 20, 2011 5:44 pm

We should be roasting quite a bit of mutton at The Big House over the Christmas/New Year event, I'll try to remember to save a bone or two.....Think some of it may even be gigotted which means t'bone won't be heated so I'll grab at least one of each see if it makes a difference.


Easiest way to clean a mutton bone I know is put it, still with meat on it, in front of Jorge =o)
Last edited by Grymm on Sun Nov 20, 2011 11:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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Re: Fids... for sailory, piratey types and people wot use ro

Postby Saint Egregious » Sun Nov 20, 2011 9:47 pm

Made this from bamboo I did. Loverly strong and sharp this fid.


IMGP2961.jpg



IMGP2958.jpg


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Re: Fids... for sailory, piratey types and people wot use ro

Postby corer » Mon Apr 30, 2012 11:20 am

I'm interested to read this discussion (and to see the text and photo of the scoops/ corers pinched from my article!). I think there's no doubt that these items, usually made from the metatarsal bones of sheep but also known in boxwood, ivory and silver, were used as scoops and corers. Modern dental health makes us forget the level of gum and tooth disease which went untreated in the past, resulting in difficulty in biting into a hard apple or hard cheese. There is a record of a lady using such a scoop to remove the flesh from an apple 'leaving the skin intact, until it would crumple in the hand like paper' (Cripps, 1973). Many examples have been found in the Thames mud and there is some evidence of a cottage industry in London, perhaps located closely to a slaughter house or butchery, as many of the Thames examples bear similar patterning. Scoops bearing hearts and personal messages were love tokens akin to Welsh love spoons and often bear the initials of the couple. Dated examples are known mainly from the 18th and 19th centuries but such scoops reportedly occur in Roman middens and have doubtless been made since such times. Given the historic importance of the wool trade in Britain there would have been no shortage of raw material!
Some references for further reading on this topic:
Cripps,A (Ed), 1973. Rescuing the Past. Newton Abbot, David & Charles, pp.138-139
Pinto, E.H., 1969. Treen and Other Wooden Bygones: an Encyclopaedia and Social History. London, G. Bell & Sons
Smaldon, G., 2002. Bone Apple Scoops. Antique Collecting, 37(4), pp.40-43




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