Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Set an Elegant Table with Silver Tableware

Beautiful table setting from Sheila Chefetz' Antiques for the Table
With big family holidays around the corner, it's time to think about setting a beautiful and festive table for your guests. Nothing makes a table more elegant than fine china and silver tableware. There is a brilliance added to the dining experience as the light dances off the silver, playing with the porcelain pieces and the floral centerpiece. Antique silver adds a sense of place and time to the gathering. Silver is a room's jewelry, so do not relegate your silver to storage boxes or safe deposit vaults. Dress up your room and add sparkle to your table. There are a lot of old Victorian silver items whose use is archaic or even forgotten. So try something different and use these items to add to the decor, brighten up the mantel, add a finishing touch to the table or use them in a novel way.
Table for two from Sheila Chefetz' Antiques for the Table
To some, silver is so old school, so stuffy, so hard to clean. But ... if you use your silver, it will require less polishing ... if you decorate with it, it becomes part of you and your home ... and old school will become new again.
This treasure case with hundreds of pieces of silver is pictured in Sheila Chefetz' Antiques for the Table.
Victorians seemed to have a utensil for every task. At the table, it would seem that the flatware extended almost beyond the reach of the diner. So let's not go that far. An elegant dinner can get by with five to eight pieces, depending on how many courses are served. A lunch need only have a few and an informal buffet or barbeque can be as simple as a knife, fork and spoon wrapped in a napkin.
Buffet table from Sheila Chefetz' Antiques for the Table
Early silver is heavier than current offerings. The price of silver has had a lot to do with that. Even patterns that have been produced for over a century have thinned down. That's one reason that old silver is so wonderful. It has that feeling of weight ... sturdy and elegant at the same time. Old silver also has that wonderful patina. That silvery gray color that lingers after years of use, holding on to tarnish in crevasses and enhancing the glorious design motifs.
Intricate bird and flowers motif on a citrus spoon. Note the poppy flower in the pointed bowl. This hand wrought piece is from the late-1800s. ($45)
Here are couple of the patterns we have at Vintages. These are sterling silver and as such are expensive. However, you can also find some wonderful silver plated flatware and serving pieces that do not break the bank.

This first pattern is Rose Point by Wallace Silversmiths. The lacy, pierced design was introduced in 1934 and is still available today, but the old pieces are so much more glorious than the new, shiny ones.

Rose Point pattern sterling silver service for 6 or 12 ($1250 for service for 6)
The next pattern is Wild Rose by International Silver Company. Introduced in 1948, this pattern is also still available as a "made to order" item from the maker. We have a couple of services for six available and also a myriad of serving pieces, some with marvelous shell shaped bowls.

Wild Rose pattern sterling silver service for 6 or 12 ($1950 for 42 pieces; $2150 for 48 pieces)
Beautiful shell bowl on Wild Rose serving spoons
This luncheon set is silver plate from Germany. It sports a delicately simple design which does not overwhelm the smaller size of the flatware.
18 piece lunch set • German silver plate ($120 for the set)
Vintage silver plate serving pieces make a lovely gift as well as a nice statement on your table.
Silver plate serving forks for salads or cold meat (most $12-24 each)
Silver plate gravy spoons and ladles (most $15-24 each)
A variety of silver plate serving pieces (most $12-24 each)
A variety of small serving pieces (most $9-24 each)
Sugar spoons and miscellaneous small spoons (most $9-24 each)
Many of the flatware patterns have gloriously decorated handles. There are also some very specific pieces designed for tasks such as picking up berries, pickles or bonbons. Even lemons had their own serving fork.
Clockwise from top left: Shreve sterling silver bonbon spoon ($95); Blackington sterling silver pickle fork ($39); Tiffany sterling silver strawberry fork ($195); Sterling silver hollow handled lemon fork ($38)
Clockwise from top left: Whiting 2-pc sterling silver salad serving set ($395); Tiffany 2-pc sterling silver fish serving set ($2200); Continental silver grape shears ($250); Wallace Wild Rose 2-pc sterling silver carving set ($95)
You should not feel that matching everything is a requirement. Maybe each guest could have a different pattern at their place. Special knives or forks with ivory or hollow handles add interest to the setting. Serving pieces can be wonderful focal points with elaborate designs setting off a simpler array of place settings.
Clockwise from top left: Art nouveau pattern on Gorham hollow handled dinner knives sterling silver ($395 for 11 pieces); Frank Whiting sterling silver Palm pattern teaspoons ($125 set of 5); Georg Jensen sterling silver Acorn pattern lunch knife ($130); Alvin Silver Co. sterling silver Orange Blossom pattern teaspoons ($249 set of 6)
There are more areas than flatware to consider for setting an elegant table. Ring in the dinner with a silver bell. Light the table or buffet with silver candlesticks. Serve the beverage from a crystal decanter on a silver tray with a special liquor tag hanging around the neck of the decanter. 
Large Swedish silver plate 2-piece salad set ($98); Mango wood salad bowl (small shown $89.95; large not shown $99.95)
Left: Charles Tomae sterling silver Lily dinner bell ($125) • Right: English sterling silver muffineer or sugar caster Nathan-Hayes Chester 1905 ($395)
Left: Cartier sterling silver candle holders with etched hurricane chimneys ($295 pair) • Right: Richard M. Woods Art Deco sterling silver candlesticks ($295 pair)
Sterling silver tray ($1195); Decanter (Sold); Bottle tag

Tea and lunch settings can be elegant as well. They don't call it high tea for nothing.
Gorham sterling silver tea set ($2250)
Colorful table from Sheila Chefetz' Antiques for the Table
Any setting, from elegant to simple, from outdoor soirees to buffets, can be spiffed up by the inclusion of silver napkin rings. Many of these are monogrammed ... so? Often the monogram is as elegant as the design. Or maybe you can match names from these napkin rings with you guests.
Sterling silver monogrammed napkin rings ($45 each)
French Art Deco silver napkin rings - Madame & Monsieur ($95 pair)
Sterling silver Art Nouveau hand engraved napkin rings ($45 each)
Early pewter napkin rings ($38 each)
Rogers, Lunt & Bowen sterling silver napkin clip ($65)
We have a lot of our silver available online, but there are many pieces in the shop that have not made it to our shopping site.

Replacements Ltd. has drawn up this list of the most popular (i.e., top selling) silver patterns. It is interesting that several of these were introduced a century ago and still remain at the top of the list today.
To see images and a bit of history about these patterns click here.


  1. Great collection of vintage silver products. Thanks for sharing it with us. We also provide these type of services both online and in Paris. To know more about us click on this link French Antique Sterling Silver

  2. Wow! This is so wonderful post about sterling silver. The shine of sterling silver tea set is just stunning. i just love these Silver Candelabra which entertain guests on table.

  3. Thanks for sharing this Blog. I appreciate the sense that comes out from this blog post. Thank you!
    Sterling Silver Tea Sets.


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