Tray - Encyclopedia

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TRAY, a flat receptacle with a raised edge used for a variety of purposes, chiefly domestic. The tray takes many forms - oblong, circular, oval, square - and is made in a vast number of materials, from papier mache to the precious metals. Duke Charles of Lorraine had a pen-tray of rock crystal standing on golden feet; Marie Antoinette possessed a wonderful oval tray, silver gilt and enamelled, set with 144 cameos engraved with the heads of sovereigns and princes of the house of Austria, and their heraldic devices. The tea-tray is the most familiar form; next to it comes the small round tray, usually of silver or electroplate, chiefly used for handing letters or a glass of wine. When thus employed it is usually called a "waiter." The English tea-trays of the latter part of the 18th century were usually oval in shape and sometimes had handles; mahogany and rosewood were the favourite materials. Sheraton and Shearer, among other cabinet-makers of the great English period, are credited with trays of this type. These were succeeded in the early and mid-Victorian period by trays of japanned iron, which possessed no charm but had the virtue of durability. Sheffield plate snuffer-trays of satisfying simplicity were made in large numbers, and are now much sought after.

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