15th Century Lever Nutcracker
Dimensions: length 9 cms.
Place of Origin: Germany?
Date: late 15th century.
Present Location: Nutcracker Museum in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Nuts, particularly almonds, played an important role in the medieval diet and “milk of almonds” appears frequently in cookery manuscripts of this period. The decoration of this nutcracker indicates it was used at the table for cracking nuts, rather than in the kitchen.
In “Civilisation and Its Tools” Alessandro Cesati points out that the first signs of a desire for decoration of metal tools and objects appeared in the Late Middle Ages as the technical means for adorning metal objects became better and more efficient.
The maker of this particular nutcracker most certainly drew inspiration from his daily surroundings. Its cracking mechanism is decorated with two heads, note two different facial expressions.
The handles are adorned with dogs.
Boucard, D., Vocabulaire Illustré des Arts Populaires, Eyrolles, 2014, pp. 78–81.
Cesati, A., “Civilisation and Its Tools”, in: Antique Tools and Instruments from the Nessi Collection, 5 Continents Editions, 2004, ISBN 88-7439-124-2.