5 years ago, on one of our Paris holidays, we were at the ‘Little Flea’ the Le marché aux Puces de Vanves, where we happened upon the most spectacular Silver Ice-Cream Serving Set. At first we had no idea what it was so we inquired. The merchant elegantly described how ice-cream was considered a delicacy and quite rare during the mid-eighteenth to early-nineteenth century. Given that, it was only enjoyed by the wealthy and elite which, of course, required special serving sets to be made to serve it. The box itself was magnificently crafted of leather with tiny gold leafs embossed around the edges. The interior was of green velvet with each spoon cradled in a recess shaped exactly to the spoons size and shape. Along with the spoons were two other pieces. One was a large flat spoon which was used to scrape along the top of the ice-cream to create beautiful curls. The other was crescent in shape on a long handle an was used to slice perfect servings of the rare delicacy. The official silver marks placed the manufacturing date around 1836. We pondered it for quite a while but ultimately decided against buying it. We just didn’t see any practical use for it and bringing it home to the States would be cumbersome. It was something we regretted ever since. Every subsequent visit, we would go back to the little flea in the hopes of finding it again but to no avail.
This month, with Mitch’s birthday coming up, I decided to visit St Ouen, Paris’ largest antique district, to see if I could find something interesting to surprise him with. I really had nothing in particular in mind and was simply wandering around waiting for the perfect thing to show up. And it did. I entered a small shop filled with delicate glass wear from goblets to vases in a myriad of colors and shapes hoping to find something that might be of interest. As I made my way to the back of the store I looked down and there it was – the ice-cream service we had seen so many years ago. I couldn’t believe my eyes!! I was terrified of showing too much interest as I knew the price would go up significantly. I was also worried that someone else might show up and buy it. I had to be subtle yet expeditious. After a little small talk with the owner, I casually inquired about the set and he described its history in detail for me. Without my saying anything, he offered a reduced price which I simply nodded my head to. We chatted a little while longer and then he offered a second price – even lower if I paid cash. It was a deal. I accepted and we were both happy with the exchange.
Not being able to wait – either of us – Mitch was thrilled at his gift and the look on his face when he opened the box was well worth the long 5 year wait. He was as shocked as I was that I was able to find such a beautiful piece again after so many years. While its use will be limited, now that we live here, it will certainly find its way to our table. I hope you enjoy the photos.