Hester Bateman, a silversmith from London, England, made this ladle around 1777. Born in 1709 to a poor family, Bateman had no formal education. She married goldsmith John Bateman in 1730 and started working with him to learn the trade. When her husband died in 1760, Bateman inherited his business.
On April 16, 1761, she registered her maker’s mark—or a stamp to identify her wares—with the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths. It featured a script “HB” set inside a lozenge, or a diamond, shape, which was a traditional
symbol for a widow.
Until her retirement in 1790, Bateman made thousands of pieces ranging from simple spoons to elaborate hot water urns. Like many of her contemporaries, Bateman worked with manufactured sheet silver, the latest technological advancement of the time. She also kept up with current design trends, first working in the naturalistic rococo style and later switching to neoclassicism toward the end of the 1700s. Her prolific shop supplied items to retailers who resold them under their own identifying marks.
Made early in Bateman’s career, this ladle, with its scalloped sided bowl and shaped bottom, is in the exuberant rococo style. A specialist supplied her with this delicate turned handle made out of ebony or mahogany. Such ladles could be used to serve a variety of beverages from large bowls.