Collecting Antique Silver Servingware

Discover the lasting beauty of fine antique table silver.

Matched silver sets are beautiful, but many of us collect silverware over the years and collect many different patterns. Embrace the variety by displaying mismatched patterns and enjoy each individual intricate pattern.
Matched silver sets are beautiful, but many of us collect silverware over the years and collect many different patterns. Embrace the variety by displaying mismatched patterns and enjoy each individual intricate pattern.

Your table is a creative canvas where you can display the treasured silver servingware you’ve gathered over the years, especially during months filled with celebrations, intimate dinner parties and holiday feasts. The tradition of fine dining is once again au courant, and there’s never been a better time for those of us who appreciate a beautifully set table.

A vintage inspired tablescape set with antique silver servingware.
Antique silver trophy cups, those engraved with the long past accomplishments of celebrated people, are a unique glimpse into the past and fun addition to any tablescape.

History

Silver, sterling or plate, closely associated with elegant dinner table settings, has a history that goes further back than the gleaming silver we remember from our childhood holiday table. In fact, the tradition of sitting down for an enjoyable meal with family and friends dates back as far as civilization, but dining tables were not set with silver until the early 19th century. During the Renaissance, knives were the primary utensils used during meals, along with a wooden spoon. Forks were introduced as early as the 11th century, but were extremely controversial, scandalous and considered heretical, not gaining widespread favor in Europe until well into the 18th century.

Antique silverware is perfectly paired with these delicate linen and lace dinner napkins.
Mixed metallics, like the touches of gold-tone on the these utensils, adds extra color and detail to the vignette.

It wasn’t until the 1800s that dining came into “the gilded age” and silver for the table was plentiful. Wealthy hostesses of the 1800s set their tables with lustrous silver serving dishes and a bewildering assortment of flatware. A single place setting at a formal dinner might have included at least eight different forks, eight knives, numerous spoons, a butter pick, game shears, nut picks, asparagus tongs and salts.

What to Collect

Collect what you love and appeals to you, a glorious mix of bowls, tureens, ladles and silverware that pays homage to your personal style. Mixed in with what you already own, these elegant luxuries add glamour to your table’s setting. Collectors love sterling silver because it keeps its value. But a collection of silver plate will bring just as much beauty to your table.

Silver is considered a "cool tone." Lidy added warmth to her sideboard vignette by adding bright yellow and red blossoms.
Silver is considered a “cool tone.” Lidy added warmth to her sideboard vignette by adding bright yellow and red blossoms.

Elegant, sophisticated and long lasting, silver serving bowls, domes and flatware elevate any setting to party status. We have a great advantage over our ancestors in that we can enjoy the beautiful silver pieces they did, but we’re not stuck with their rules. While our grandmother would never mix and match place settings or combine antique silver with contemporary dishes, today we enjoy all the charm antique silver brings to the table, free from those rules.

What to Look For

Quality. Become familiar with high quality. Sterling is almost always marked, either with the word STERLING or the lion passant. Do your research; you can find most sterling makers’ marks on the Internet. Most plated silver from the 1800s is marked Quadruple Plated. If you love a piece and want to use it for serving, but it is corroded inside, consider having a silversmith replace the interior.

Intricately detailed patterns make collecting antique silverware a captivating hobby.
Intricately detailed patterns make collecting antique silverware a captivating hobby.

Style. Opt for designs you love. Pieces with a logo, monogram or beautiful hand-chased floral engravings add charm. It doesn’t all have to match. If you love it, it will work together.

Condition. Buy silver in good condition. I suggest you buy silver that is pre-polished, especially silver-plate, so way you can see how much loss to the plating there is. Some loss is fine, but most of the silver should be there.  Do remember these pieces are often over 100 years old, and will not be perfect. That’s part of their charm.

Collecting Antique Silver- It's easy to start collecting antique silver but focusing on smaller, everyday items like cutlery. As you learn and discover more about silver, keep your eyes open for unique pieces, such as this salt, pepper, oil, and vinegar set.
It’s easy to start collecting antique silver but focusing on smaller, everyday items like cutlery. As you learn and discover more about silver, keep your eyes open for unique pieces, such as this salt, pepper, oil, and vinegar set.

You can start enjoying antique silver in small ways. Perhaps you are fortunate enough to have inherited your grandmother’s silver, or received the gift of a set of six spoons.  Set your well-appointed table with pleasure; it will bring people together and provide comfort as well as joy.

 

For more on Lidy, visit frenchgardenhouse.com.



Make a Statement with Vintage Storage Pieces

Control clutter and infuse personality into your home with unique vintage storage solutions.

 

Simplicity is the key to a harmonious balance. Loading up a piece will look busy and cluttered. Stick to a neutral color palette with a few pops of complementary colors. Play with different textures for interest (natural woods, wicker, glass, brass and stone complement any style). Add plants for the finishing touch.

We can never have enough vintage storage, according to Glenn Katec Ruiz, of Golden Pineapple, a vintage and antique furniture seller and restoration company based in Los Angeles, California. While storage pieces are practical, they’re also an important part of styling any room.

You want the piece to stand out without overwhelming the space. Lighter tones (whites, blues, green and grays) are pleasing to the eye and easy to work with in the space.

“Maximizing space is essential for a clean and welcoming atmosphere,” says Glenn. “A statement piece gives the space a beautiful focal point that’s useful as well. Large vintage pieces that are bold and unique on their own can be used as an anchor piece that will help to tie the room together.”

Use statement storage pieces to make the most of the space in your home and create a curated yet personal look.