AskDefine | Define porringer

Dictionary Definition

porringer n : a shallow metal bowl (usually with a handle) from which children eat

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A small cup or bowl usually with a handle.
  2. A small, pewter dish that colonial Americans ate their porridge from.

Extensive Definition

A porringer is a small, usually pewter, dish from which Europeans and colonial Americans ate their gruel or porridge, or other hot or cold dishes. They were usually about 4" to 6" in diameter; 1½" to 3" deep; had a flat, decorated handle at one end, on which the owner's initials were sometimes ingraved; and occasionally came with a lid. It resembles the quaich, a Scottish drinking vessel. A spoon of the same material – or possibly wood, silver, Sheffield plate, or britannia metal – was used to eat from the porringer, and occasionally other materials were used to construct the porringer itself.
All authentic porringers today are considered to be rare – especially those made in America prior to the American Revolution because, when there became a shortage of lead for making bullets, the Americans and the British are said to have raided the nearby kitchens of all their pewterware, which was thought to be soft enough to use for their purposes. One can discern authentic porringers in much the same way that silver can be authenticated from the touch marks that were stamped either into the bowl of the porringer or on its base.
The most famous porringers are probably those made by Paul Revere.
An average porringer will appear to be formed from one sheet of hammered metal, the handle’s simple ornamentation may come from being drilled, sawed, filed and stamped, but in fact it may only be cast.
It should also be said that in more modern times, some manufacturers of porringers have produced them without handles. These types of porringers appear to be a deep bowl, with the sides being nearly totally flat. Porringers are also used less and less, as a bowl will suffice for most people; Porringers, however, are still circulated, mainly as a gift for the Christening of a child.


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