Time was when we all would have known what these were for. Do you? Of course they are – marrow spoons and scoops. The first recorded use of such an implement is in the 17th century but these little beauties are Georgian silver, notice the spoons have a slimmer scoop on the end for picking out every tiny morsel of the delicacy.
Upper class diners adopted new rules of etiquette during the 1600s with forks arriving on the tables of the upper classes to help people eat with a less hands-on approach to cooked food. But forks didn’t help take the savoury jelly out of the marrowbones. You can get an idea of how this was done once upon a time by reading a mid-17th century etiquette book. The author thought it best for people to stop handling and “mouthing” bones altogether, but he would allow you to use one hand for meat bones as long as there was no gnawing, sucking, slurping etc. And definitely no banging, cracking, or biting. Get the marrow out neatly and decently – with a knife.
Suck no bones…Take them not with two hands…Gnaw them not…Knock no bones upon thy bread, or trencher, to get out the marrow of them, but get out the marrow with a knife…To speake better…it is not fit to handle bones, and much lesse to mouth them.
Make not use of a knife to breake bones…also breake them not with thy teeth, or other thing, but let them alone. (Youths [sic] behaviour, trans. from French by Francis Hawkins, 1646)
As you will also know bone broth and marrow bones in general are having a moment in the foodie/health freak limelight again – so you get your spoons before everyone else does!
My thanks to www.homethingspast.com for the vivid description.