Q. Thanks in advance for any information you can give me on this "Silvers No. 3" eggbeater. It measures 12 inches high by 4 inches square. On one side it is graduated for liquid weights -- 4 ounces to 1 pound. On another it has such notations as "One Quart Full" and "One Pint 3 Gills." Another side has embossed text, including "Even Full 8 'T' 4 Coffee Cups." The bottom is embossed "Silvers, Brooklyn NY" and has a representation of the Brooklyn Bridge.
A. Many of us can remember our mother taking a fork and scrambling eggs before placing them in a skillet.
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This wonderfully elaborate device, however, was not designed for that very simple task. Instead, it was meant to make things like mayonnaise or for beating eggs with other ingredients as called for in recipes.
When the rotary mechanical eggbeater was invented is open to some debate. Most sources trace this device's invention to one designed by Ralph Collier and the manufacturer, Alfred H. Reip, both of Baltimore. They patented their device in 1856 and it looked a bit like a tin can on legs with the rotary wheel underneath.
In the United Kingdom, the first rotary eggbeater was invented by E.P. Griffiths of London, who received a patent for his gadget in 1857. It looked somewhat like a tin can, too, but the rotary parts were on top of the tin container, and it was claimed that "Every revolution of the handle gives 288 strokes."
Such eggbeaters were designed to be used in hotels, restaurants and larger households where meals had to be prepared quickly and on something of a production-line basis. The small hand-held rotary eggbeater we are most familiar with originated in the 1880s, and was useful because it could be placed in any bowl the cook chose to accomplish his/her task.
In the United States, the hand-held beater was often called the "Dover eggbeater" after the Dover Stamping Company, which popularized them and made a large number.
Unfortunately, we can find nothing on the Silvers (the name embossed on the bottom) Company of Brooklyn. It seems to have vanished into the mists of time, but the No. 3 eggbeater it left behind is a real testament to engineering and design.
We have found several Silvers No. 3 eggbeaters offered for sale.
Our piece today could very well date from the first quarter of the 20th century, probably post-World War I. These are hard to find -- especially in such great condition -- and we have discovered prices on the Silvers No. 3 that are in the $265-$400 range.
• Contact Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson at Treasures in Your Attic, P.O. Box 18350, Knoxville, TN 37928.