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nefs-msg - 3/20/08

 

Richly decorated medieval salt cellars.

 

NOTE: See also the files: salt-msg, salt-comm-art, p-tableware-msg, aquamaniles-msg, utensils-msg, feastgear-msg, Handwashing-art, French-Tbl-Srv-art.

 

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NOTICE -

 

This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.

 

This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org

 

I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.

 

The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.

 

Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).

 

Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org

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Date: Wed, 17 Sep 1997 21:27:00 -0500

From: allilyn at juno.com (LYN M PARKINSON)

Subject: SC - Re: Nefs

 

On Wed, 17 Sep 1997 14:11:35 +0000 Erin Kenny <Erin.Kenny at sofkin.ca> writes:

>> At some times and places in period, salt cellars became wild and elaborate

>> items, fancy and decorated statues.  These were called nefs.  They

>> frequently had wheels on them so they could be rolled from one end of a

>> table to another, and they were richly decorated.

>

>Could you tell me a little more about them?  What were they made out

>of?  How big would they be?  This sounds like a project to

>"encourage" on my husband in exchange for some food or clothing!

>

>Claricia Nyetgale

 

Nefs were generally made of metal, often silver or gold. Talk about

conspicuous consumption!! Benvenuto Cellini made an exquisite one, if you

have access to photos of his work.

 

Allison

allilyn at juno.com

 

 

Date: Wed, 17 Sep 1997 23:58:48 +0000

From: "Robin Carroll-Mann" <harper at idt.net>

Subject: Re: SC - Re: Nefs

 

And it came to pass on 17 Sep 97, that LYN M PARKINSON wrote:

> Nefs were generally made of metal, often silver or gold.  Talk about

> conspicuous consumption!! Benvenuto Cellini made an exquisite one,

> if you have access to photos of his work.

[snip]

 

At the risk of being cast out of the cathedral as a vile heretic, let

me mention that "Fabulous Feasts" includes several period

illustrations of feast tables with nefs upon them.

 

> Allison

 

Brighid ni Chiarain of Tethba

Barony of Settmour Swamp, East Kingdom

 

 

Date: Wed, 17 Sep 1997 23:20:44 -0600 (MDT)

From: "Jamey R. Lathrop" <jlathrop at unm.edu>

Subject: Re: SC - Re: Nefs

 

On Wed, 17 Sep 1997, Erin Kenny wrote:

> Could you tell me a little more about them?  What were they made out

> of?  How big would they be?  This sounds like a project to

> "encourage" on my husband in exchange for some food or clothing!

>

> Claricia Nyetgale

 

On page 110 of my copy of P.W. Hammond's _Food and Feast in Medieval

England_, there's a photograph of the beautiful "Burghley Nef, made from a

nautilus shell mounted in silver parcel gilt, French, 1482...."

 

It's gonna take an awful lot of food and clothing to get one of these out

of your husband!  ;-)

 

Allegra Beati

Barony of al-Barran

Kingdom of the Outlands

 

 

Date: Thu, 18 Sep 1997 13:43:46 -0400

From: marilyn traber <margali at 99main.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Re: Nefs

 

Erin Kenny wrote:

 

> Could you tell me a little more about them?  What were they made out

> of?  How big would they be?  This sounds like a project to

> "encourage" on my husband in exchange for some food or clothing!

>

> Claricia Nyetgale

> Caldrithig, Skraeling Althing, Ealdormere

> (Erin.Kenny at sofkin.ca)

 

nef is the older french term for a ship, and at one time, the particular

bin for the royal feast gear was called a nef, probably because the one

I have seen in the loure dating to the 1100s was in the form of a

norman comquest type boat of silver and jewels. The neatest one I have

seen is in the wadsworth athaneum and is a whole mother of pearl

shell[looks like a giant snail shell] in a kind of neptune in a seahorse

drawn boat. By the time the renn came about[this one was from some

italian palace in the 1450s or so] they changed from a container to a

gaudy way to display your wealth.  I have one of those shells, I was

going to use it for a nef but the cat knocked it off the shelf and it

has a few cracks in it. *sigh*

 

margali

 

 

Date: Fri, 16 Feb 2001 04:02:23 -0700

From: James Prescott <prescotj at telusplanet.net>

Subject: Re: SC - Haversacks and nefts (??)

 

As requested, here's a reference for 'nef' as ship, from

 

Lewis, A.R. and Runyan, T.J.  European Naval and Maritime History,

300-1500.  Indiana University Press.  Bloomington.  1985.

 

p.66  "... the so-called _naves_ or _nefs_, which were large

round-ships, lateen-rigged, with two masts ..."

 

p.73  has a line-drawing of a Genoese nef based on the best

available evidence.

 

p.74  "They may have been cheaper to build or to operate than a

_nef_."  The word _nef_ is used two more times on this page.

 

p.82  "Already by 1400, as we have noted, the older Mediterranean

round-ships such as _nefs_ and _taurides_ had been replaced by

more efficient northern European _cogs_."

 

p.83  "Often built as large as 700 or 1,000 tons, _carracks_,

which were sometimes also called _nefs_ in the fifteenth century,

carried most of the heavy bulk cargoes, such as salt, wheat, cotton,

and timber, throughout the Mediterranean."

 

I like that one -- it has carracks (sometimes called nefs) carrying

salt!

 

I know I've seen the word used in other books on the period.

 

 

A bit of further dictionary work yields the following:

 

In the OED under 'navy' definition 2.c gives the meaning of "A single

ship", with both citations spelling it 'nave'.

 

In my small dictionary of Old French we have four meanings given

for nef (not counting its meaning as 'turnip'):

 

- -A Ship

- -A nave of a church

- -A piece of (gold or silver) plate that one placed on the table

representing initially a ship

- -A large driking vessel, a goblet

 

So one might have someone in period, if they were French or in

contact with France, referring to their goblet as their 'nef'.

- --

Thorvald Grimsson / James Prescott

 

 

Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2001 02:36:33 -0700

From: James Prescott <prescotj at telusplanet.net>

Subject: SC - More on 'Nef' (including a citation)

 

Thorvald here:

 

I've tracked down a published extract of the article I referred

to last week concerning the nef. The original article was from

the early 80's, and the extract / summary was published in May

1986 in a local SCA newsletter (_The Montengarde Mouthpiece_).

It was written by Sir Conrad von Graz.

 

First, an excerpt from the extract:

 

  "In period it was customary for every guest to bring his or

   her own knife, spoon, salt, spices, napkin, & on occasion

   goblet. ... Most of these things which a guest would bring

   became part of the table setting during the feast & would

   be carried in some sort of pouch which would lay on the

   table before the guest (marking his or her place). This

   pouch according to C. Anne Wilson in _Food & Drink in

   Britain_ (London:Constable, 1976) was also called a NEF.

   The following sketch is from p.58 of Wilson's work showing

   the typical table setting for two guests:"

 

There follows a photocopy of the sketch showing from left to

right close to the diners: rolls (?in cloth?); trencher; spoon;

knife; platter; knife; spoon; trencher; rolls.  Closer to the

center of the table, again from left to right: a small plate for

sauces; what appears to be a long leather case with closure

lying crosswise and labelled (by Wilson) 'Gentleman's nef'; a

goblet; what appears to be a cross-section view of a large

(?wooden? ?pottery? ?metal?) container adorned with the statue

of a peacock and with at least two deep holes one containing two

pieces of cutlery (?knife and spoon?) standing on end and the

other containing something white that might be intended to

represent a napkin or a container of salt or spices and labelled

(by Wilson) 'Lady's nef'; and finally a second plate for sauces.

 

The caption (by Wilson) for the sketch reads:

 

  "This sketch shows the double table laying in greater detail.

   Note the leather nef of the gentleman is far less elaborate

   than that of the King. The page placed the food onto the

   platter where the guest cut it onto pieces and placed them

   on his trencher which served as a plate."

 

The extract does not say where or when the original of the

sketch came from, nor where Wilson got her information about

this meaning of nef.

 

So we have some evidence (depending on the reliability of C.

Anne Wilson, whose book I do not have and therefore cannot

judge) for nef referring to a container for some or all of

the things that a guest would bring to a feast.

 

I presume that a number of those on this list will have

this book, and can check directly and perhaps report on her

sources.

 

Sir Conrad also writes in the summary (I've strung relevant

bits together):

 

  "... I am the source of the use of the term NEF for an SCA

   table setting. ... to refer primarily to the basket or box

   _plus_ contents which the typical SCA Feast Guest is

   expected to bring to the SCA Feast or Revel.  ... The final

   shift from the container to contents took place at the 2nd

   War Games [1984] where there was a contest ... they only

   had table settings ... from that point onward NEF has meant

   Table Setting, etc, in Avacal [then a region in An Tir, now

   a Principality]."

 

I know I have a copy of the original article (which was more

complete than the extract I've been quoting from) somewhere, but

so far my ransacking of the files has not turned it up.

 

Stefan, it's interesting to note the mis-rememberings about the

contents of the article (at up to 20 year's distance) by both

myself and by Sir Conrad.

 

Thorvald

 

 

Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2001 12:30:34 -0800

From: "Laura C. Minnick" <lcm at efn.org>

Subject: Re: SC - More on 'Nef' (including a citation)

 

Thorvald,

 

Your post got me wondering-where on earth did Wilson get this 'info'? I

wonder because:

A) I've never seen it elsewhere,

 

B) if guests brought their own stuff in a 'nef', why do no descriptions

of doing it show up in manners books, why do you not see anyone carrying

them in feast scenes, why do we not see a LOT of them on the tables,

behind the tables, under the tables, etc, and

 

C) where did the dishes go? A great many feast pictures show very few

dishes of the personal sort- did everyone forget their nef?

 

It just doesn't make sense to me...

 

'Lainie

 

 

Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2001 17:13:38 -0500 (EST)

From: Jenne Heise <jenne at mail.browser.net>

Subject: Re: SC - More on 'Nef' (including a citation)

 

>    goblet. ... Most of these things which a guest would bring

>    became part of the table setting during the feast & would

>    be carried in some sort of pouch which would lay on the

>    table before the guest (marking his or her place). This

>    pouch according to C. Anne Wilson in _Food & Drink in

>    Britain_ (London:Constable, 1976) was also called a NEF.

>    The following sketch is from p.58 of Wilson's work showing

>    the typical table setting for two guests:"

 

There is no such sketch in the 1974 edition, or the 1991 edition.

The note on the 1991 edition from Academy Chicago Publishers says

"Originally published: Food & drink in Britain from the Stone Age to

recent times. London : Constable, 1973. With new introd. and

bibliography." Which leads me to believe that the 1991 edition was not

extensively revised.

 

There is, on p. 128 of the 1974 edition, an illustration from the

Lutterell Psalter showing people sitting eating at a table, and on p. 193

there is a woodcut of Early 17th century diners.

 

The term 'nef' does not appear in the index of the 1976 edition, and a

cursory scan of the text of the 1974 edition turns up only a few

references to knives and table settings.

> There follows a photocopy of the sketch showing from left to

> right close to the diners: rolls (?in cloth?); trencher; spoon;

> knife; platter; knife; spoon; trencher; rolls. Closer to the

> center of the table, again from left to right: a small plate for

> sauces; what appears to be a long leather case with closure

> lying crosswise and labelled (by Wilson) 'Gentleman's nef'; a

> goblet; what appears to be a cross-section view of a large

> (?wooden? ?pottery? ?metal?) container adorned with the statue

> of a peacock and with at least two deep holes one containing two

> pieces of cutlery (?knife and spoon?) standing on end and the

> other containing something white that might be intended to

> represent a napkin or a container of salt or spices and labelled

> (by Wilson) 'Lady's nef'; and finally a second plate for sauces.

 

This sketch doesn't appear anywhere in the editions I have.

 

> The extract does not say where or when the original of the

> sketch came from, nor where Wilson got her information about

> this meaning of nef.

 

I strongly suspect that this information did NOT come from C. Anne Wilson,

or at least from no edition of _Food and Drink in Britain_, but from

another source. (As a librarian we see this a lot: I call it 'citation

transfer'-- where one citation attaches itself to your notes from another

source. It's not uncommon: librarians estimate that 30% of scholarly

citations are inaccurate in some way and even outright wrong.)

 

Fabulous Feasts appears to have come out in 1976 originally-- does someone

have access to that edition? Please check p. 58 and see if the sketch is

there.

--

Jadwiga Zajaczkowa

 

 

Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2001 16:36:09 -0600

From: "Michael Gunter" <countgunthar at hotmail.com>

Subject: Re: SC - More on 'Nef' (including a citation)

 

The Oxford English Dictionary entry on "nef" has 2 quotes which, I think,

describe the item in question.

(1) "...the Nef being...a piece of gilt plate in the shape of the hull of a

ship in which the napkins for the king's table are kept."

(2) "Of these ornaments, one was the nef or ship--a vessel generally of

silver which contained the salt-cellar, towel, &c., of the prince or great

lord."

 

(Both these quotes come from the 19th century.)

 

BUT:

The 1998 Encyclopedia Britannica, v. 8, p. 581, has a nice color picture of

a silver-gilt nef in the British Museum, probably French, about 1530. The

article describes a nef as a European vessel in the the form of a ship,

possible originally used as a drinking vessel and then as a table ornament,

often of precious metal or rock crystal. It often had spaces for salt,

spices, or table utensils. Apparently the nef was another way in which to

display wealth and status.

 

Mathilde

 

 

Date: Fri, 6 Apr 2001 15:23:52 -0400 (EDT)

From: Jenne Heise <jenne at mail.browser.net>

Subject: SC - Nef quote

 

I promised to send this quote about nefs earlier, here it is:

 

Nef: from _The English Medieval Feast_ by William Edward Mead, (originally published circa 1937) (NY: Barnes & Noble, 1967) "If the feast were at all a pretentious one of the most conspicuous ornaments was likely to be the nef, a vessel in the form of a medieval ship with a high prow and stern. In some households this held the saltcellar, small towels for wiping the hands and mouth, and sometimes knives and spoons." p. 142

 

However, in p. 137, the author quotes:

"Meat and drink are ordained and convenient to dinners and feasts, for at first meat is prepared and arrayed; guests are called together; forms and stools are set in the hall, and tables, cloths, and towels are ordained, disposed, and made ready. Guests are set with the lord in the chief place of the board, and they sit not down at the board before the guests wash their hands. Children are set in their place, and servants at a table by themselves. FIRST, KNIVES, SPOONS, AND SALTS ARE SET ON THE BOARD, and then bread and drink, and many diverse messes . . ." [emphasis mine].

 

-- Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, mka Jennifer

 

 

Date: Tue, 1 May 2001 12:50:47 -0400 (EDT)

From: Jenne Heise <jenne at mail.browser.net>

Subject: SC - Nefs picture

 

Sarah may have found the original of the Nefs picture that we were

discussing (not the labelled sketch, the illumination from which it was

taken)...it's from a manuscript in the Bibliotheque Nationale du France:

http://www.bnf.fr/enluminures/images/jpeg/i2_0074.jpg

 

It's the only one I've ever seen with multiple nefs, and I wonder, looking

at the page design, if the multiple nefs are there as repeating decorative

elements?

--

Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, mka Jennifer Heise       jenne at mail.browser.net

 

 

Date: Tue, 01 May 2001 13:28:46 -0700

From: "Laura C. Minnick" <lcm at efn.org>

Subject: Re: SC - Nefs picture

 

Olwen the Odd wrote:

> Wow.  The picture is wonderful.  I loved the heraldic outfits.  I wish I

> could read the text.  What is it about?  Anyone know?

 

It's a picture from one of the French _Chronicles_ (one of the Charles',

but I don't remember the #)  and it is a feast during the visit of

Charles IV of Bohemia (the guy in red with the hoop over his crown) to

the French court. The guys on the right are staging a re-enactment of

the seige of Jerusalem. IIRC, the guy near the bottom of the ladder in

the gold with black lion (matching banner on the boat) is Godfrey of

Bouillon.

Cool pic- did you notice the tablecloths with the woven diapered

pattern?

 

'Lainie

[corrected using a later message from Lainie - Stefan]

 

 

Date: Tue, 01 May 2001 22:53:42 +0200

From: tgl at mailer.uni-marburg.de

Subject: SC - Nefs picture

 

<< The picture is wonderful. ... What is it about? >>

 

According to Flandrin/Lambert, who also show this picture in their

"Fêtes gourmandes au Moyen Âge" (p. 110), this is a banquet given by

Charles V to Charles IV of Luxembourg. The surrounding scene is part of

a non-culinary "entremets": an interlude representing the conquest of

Jerusalem. -- Edition: Delachenal, R. (éd.): Les Grandes Chroniques des

France. Chroniques des règnes de Jean II et Charles V. Paris 1916.

 

They (Flandrin/Lambert) also show the "Nef de table" of Anne de Bretagne

(p. 47), a beautiful piece, and briefly comment on different functions

of nefs (p. 46): salt container, proba (poisoning test device),

container of cutlery, container of dishes given away from the table to

the poor.

 

In a contribution by Stéphane Vandenberghe to _Fêtes gourmandes_ on the

earliest forks, it is interesting to hear that in 1380 "la nef du roi

Charles V contient une coupe d'essai, une cuillère, un couteau et une

fourchette" (p. 45; source quoted: J. Labarte: Inventaire du mobilier de

Charles V, roi de France. Paris 1879, 46).

 

Thomas

 

 

Date: Tue, 1 May 2001 19:14:12 -0700

From: James Prescott <prescotj at telusplanet.net>

Subject: Re: SC - Nefs picture

 

At 12:50 -0400 2001-05-01, Jenne Heise wrote:

> Sarah may have found the original of the Nefs picture that we were

> discussing (not the labelled sketch, the illumination from which it was

> taken).

 

Not the original of the infamous 'sketch', unfortunately. That's still

unidentified.

 

Thorvald

 

 

Date: Wed, 10 Mar 2004 00:56:38 -0700

From: James Prescott <prescotj at telusplanet.net>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Nef revisited

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-coos at ansteorra.org>

 

This list has in the past occasionally discussed the origin

and meaning of the word 'nef'.

 

I was looking though Larousse Gastronomique (the 1961 English

translation) and tripped across the word 'nef' on page 95.

 

It's out of period, referring to the luncheon meals of Louis XIV,

but is still interesting.

 

Here's the quote:

 

"Then followed a gentleman-in-waiting the general controller

of the household, and other gentlemen of less exalted rank,

preceding the clerks of the kitchen carrying plates, the _nef_,

or a basket in which knives, spoons, forks, toothpicks, salt,

ginger, pepper, saffron and all the oriental pices were kept."

 

There's another mention on the next page:

 

"While one of the ushers went to announce to the king the arrival

of his meal, the Lord Steward bowed to the _nef_ (the cutlery

basket) which had been placed on the table, then took the napkinsout of it which a gentleman-in-waiting received between two gold

plates."

 

There's a further mention on page 97 in connection with Louis XV.

 

Reference:

Montagne, P.  Larousse Gastronomique.  First edition 1938.

Translated and edited by N. Froud et al. Paul Hamlyn.  1961.

 

Thorvald

 

 

Date: Wed, 10 Mar 2004 14:18:25 -000

From: "Jeff Gedney" <gedney1 at iconn.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Nef revisited

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

Nef is an old term for a type of boat, originally referring a largish

sort of Knarr or "Halfskip" (which was a double ended sort of canoe  

shape, about 2.5 to 3 times as long as wide, and used by Northern  

European travellers and trades for exploration adn cargo).

 

"Nef" as a term seems to have been used mostly in the French contexts,  

so it is quite likely that this usage originally referred in some way

to the shape of the basket.

It was probably a pointed oval or boat shape, deep nd wide,  narrowing

at the ends.

 

There is also an eccelsiastical boat shaped incense burner that was  

also called a Nef.

 

Brandu

(AKA-SCA) Capt. Elias Gedney

 

 

Date: Wed, 10 Mar 2004 21:07:01 -0500

From: Johnna Holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Nef revisited

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

("Une nef d'un travail exquis pour le sel") is the one phrase that

I came across to describe them.  (The original discussion of this  I  

think was before my time.) see

http://www.tribunes.com/tribune/sel/mon1.htm

 

See Cosman's Fabulous Feasts for some other pictures.

The Duke de Berry is dining in the month of January in plate 2

This can be found on the web at:

http://gallery.euroweb.hu/html/l/limbourg/

 

Also 1 figure 15 which is taken from--

Grandes Chroniques de France, XIVe s. (BNF, FR 2813)

You can browse these on the web now---

http://www.bnf.fr/enluminures/manuscrits/man5.htm

 

Banquet en l'honneur de Charles IV.

http://www.bnf.fr/enluminures/manuscrits/man5/i2_0074.htm

Banquet offert par Charles V au palais de la CitŽ, en honneur de l'empereur

Charles IV et de Wenceslas IV, roi de Bohme. Au cours de ce banquet, fut

prŽsentŽ un spectacle Žvoquant la premire croisade et la prise de JŽrusalem

par Godefroy de Bouillon. (FR 2813)

fol. 473v Grandes Chroniques de France

France, Paris, XIVe s. (190 x 190 mm)

 

Click on the image to enlarge it.

 

Johnnae llyn Lewis

 

 

Date: Mon, 21 Mar 2005 13:02:04 -0500

From: Johnna Holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] extant medieval Saltcellars

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

julian wilson wrote:

> Can any Lister point me to books or online pictures at websites which  

> have clear illustrations of extant medieval Saltcellars in Museums or  

> private Collections?

> A friendly Master Pewterer has intimated that he will consider making  

> one for our Companie's High Table, if he has some clear,  

> graphic-reference sources to work from.

 

One can search under the words salt cellar as a Google

images search. That turns up the Renaissance Cellini example.

How elaborate did the Master Pewterer want to be?

Another great source is the V&A images file--

http://www.vam.ac.uk/    look under collections and click on

Access to Images

There are a number of elaborate ones displayed there.

The British Museum also has a few images up including a lovely 16th century

page featuring 3 drawings under

Giulio Romano, Three Shell-Shaped Salt Cellars, pen and ink wash designs

 

Italy, AD 1530s

 

Go to http://www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk/sitemap/sitemap.html

and insert the terms salt cellar to see a slection.

 

Johnnae

I am tempted to say that I'm not a Lister-- I'm a Librarian....

 

 

Date: Sun, 22 Jan 2006 12:32:55 -0800

From: Susan Fox <selene at earthlink.net>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Art news:  Cellini salt cellar found!

To: <caid at sca-caid.org>, Cooks within the SCA

        <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

This solid gold salt cellar, dated to the 1540's, has been called  

"The Mona Lisa of Sculpture."

 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/4636668.stm

 

Selene Colfox

 

<the end>



Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org