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Can anyone please tell me what this is? I bought it at a thrift shop and they had no idea what it is either.
Yes, this is a crumb catcher or "silent butler". Waiters used to carry a little matching whisk broom and sweep bread crumbs off the tablecloths into these at fancy restaurants.
This piece etched Virtute Non Verbis-is called a Vintage Silent Butler Crumb Catcher. This piece was used by wealthy families after a meal to catch the crumbs or ashes from the table after a meal.