Cailar, Bayard & Co.
Frédéric Delair, then chef/owner of French restaurant La Tour d'Argent, developed a dish called Canard à la Presse, which translates to Pressed Duck, in 1890. It was thought to be the epitome of fine French cuisine at the time. The preparation of this dish was laborious, complicated and required a special, aptly named appliance, the presse à canard, which translates to duck press.
Duck presses are still made today and there are other, older presses that are more ornate or plated in gold, but the one on this page is my favorite. It was produced by Cailar, Bayard & Company, a Parisian silversmith. I believe these presses were made sometime around the turn of the 20th century. Its most interesting feature is the footed elephant heads which double as the legs of the press. Coupled with the silver plate of the entire piece, the elephants add a sense of regalia. Both front and back plates swing open for easy access to the reservoir inside. A T-handle screw shaft has the actual press on one end which fits snuggly within the top of the reservoir. The pressed liquid exits through a spout near the base.
Have more information? Comments? Have one for sale? Email me at Antikey.Chop@gmail.com
Cailar & Bayard Duck Press
For the preparation of Pressed Duck, "First, a duck (preferably young and plump and from Rouen) is asphyxiated to retain the blood. The duck is then partially roasted. Its liver is ground and seasoned, then the legs and breast are removed. The remaining carcass (including other meat, bones, and skin) is then put in a specially-designed press, similar to a wine press. Pressure is then applied to extract duck blood and other juices from the carcass. The extract is thickened and flavoured with the duck's liver, butter, and cognac, and then combined with the breast to finish cooking.