A Short History of Trays and Salvers

When you think of a tray, it’s likely that you picture the hard plastic objects that are used in eating establishments as a way to conveniently take food to your table. And whilst some homes do still regularly use them when eating, the tray has evolved to be used for more than that. Let’s take a look at the history of the tray.

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Origins

Traditionally the tray is known as a flat object, often made of wood or metal, which is used to serve or move food and drink from one place to another. With its slightly raised edges, it’s no surprise that the word tray comes from the Middle English word ‘trig’, which means ‘flat board with low rim’. Whilst it is not known when they first came into existence, the concept of the tray dates back to at least the seventh or sixth centuries BCE.

A salver, deriving from the Latin word ‘salvare’, meaning ‘to save’, was originally used for serving food and drink to royalty. The silver tray, which was traditionally without handles, was used to present food which had been checked for poison, making it fit for the king. This led to the salver being used by those with a high standing. It can still be seen today at some of the most upscale events. Antique salvers can be valuable, and so it may be interesting to determine their worth.

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Modern Uses

Although nowadays the traditional type of tray is mainly used in restaurants, the use of ‘TV trays’ to allow comfortable dining away from the table has helped other products take advantage of its practicality. Rather than just being used for food, a padded lap tray is becoming more popular. What is a cushioned laptray? It continues the theory of convenient eating whilst also being suitable and comfortable for artists, crafters or those using a laptop. It is no longer just used to serve food as it was previously.

Although the design has changed over the years, with the traditional oval shape being replaced by the solid rectangle, there are many elements which continue to be popular. This includes the addition of feet – something that was often seen on the original salver. So whether your use of a tray is practical or purely ornamental, there’s no denying it has come a long way.