Collecting old, vintage silverware is weakness of mine, along with red, blue, and brown transferware, chocolate, and anything dog- or horse-themed, among others. Why collect old silverware?, you might ask. I suppose the answer could just be because I like it, but, for me, there must always be a reason for everything....so I did a bit of self-analysis and loosely organized the results into four categories.
1. Pretty Patterns
I love the way a pretty silver fork or spoon feels in my hands, and using vintage silverware with it's intricate, old-fashioned patterns makes every-day eating feel special and elegant.
OK, not every meal is a leisured, sit-down affair and I don't always have the time linger over each meal and think about how special and elegant I'm being. But even if it is a quick bowl of cereal and cup of coffee in the morning while I watch the weekday news before I hit the road, on a subconscious level, it feels a little different from just using some run-of-the mill, stainless steel nonentity that I purchased from some big box store or chain retail place.
Not that there is anything wrong with stainless steel; depending on it's design, stainless steel can live in total harmony right alongside vintage silver. I have a nice collection of stainless steel knives, forks, and spoons with handles that look like old, tarnished silver (or old pewter) that looks very nice indeed sitting next to my vintage silver-- but that can be a separate post.
I never get tired of marveling at the detailed, intricate designs of these old pieces....
Mixing up a wide range of patterns and design eras can lead to an interesting, collected look when setting a table....which leads to Reason 2.
2. Personalized Tablescapes
But I also love to mix all the different silverware patterns that I have collected over the years for an interesting, eclectic look for less formal occasions and for every day, quick meals.
Whether it's for a sit down meal (unfortunately rather rare in our house these days) or I'm just plopping down on the sofa with my cereal or a plate of brownies, choosing the flatware is a fun activity that allows me to appreciate and enjoy not only my silverware collection, but all the various plates and bowls I've collected over the years as well.
Picking which fork or spoon to use, along with the right bowl or plate, is rather like picking out your outfit every day, and gives you the opportunity to be creative and think outside the box for every sort of occasion.
3. Holding History in Your Hands
One of the reasons I collect old and vintage things is my love of, and fascination for, history (one of my favorite subjects in school). Many of the patterns on old, vintage silverware have been discontinued and are no longer available new, and using these old pieces allows you to create one-of-a-kind, highly personalized tablescapes with items that have a unique story behind each one.
I love to turn these things over and look at the marks on the back....and if I have time, do a little research on the Internet to try and figure out their provenance, how old they are, who made them...
As with all collected old things and antiques, it's fun to speculate about who owned them previously, where they originated from, how they ended up in the antique where I found them....
That is part of the fun of antiquing I suppose (for more on my vintage collecting and antiquing adventures click here and here).
4. Because My Mom Did
Growing up, the 'silverware' drawer, was filled with, you guessed it-- pretty, mismatched silverware that my mom had collected over the years. This isn't something that I started off doing automatically when I was an adult on my own-- I started off with an inexpensive set stainless steel flatware. I suppose this was a sort of modest rebellion against what I had grown up with.
But I soon course-corrected, and, as with the overall decor of my home, moved away from a modern, contemporary table-setting style and filled my 'silverware' drawer with a growing collection of eclectic, vintage silverware.
Even though I've evolved back to a style that reflects what I grew up with...there are differences between my style and my mom's. When my mom visits, she has her favorites that she likes to use (smaller, more delicate pieces). I like silverware with bigger, heftier handles that I can get a good grip on. I'm also a spoon fanatic, and probably have more spoons than anything else (because of my cereal-every-morning habit).
So I tend to collect both finer, more delicate pieces as well as pieces that are larger and more robust.
I found most of the spoons shown below at an antique store in a tiny town in Utah, they made their first (tarnished) appearance in this post.
A quick note on the practical side of using old silverware on an ever-day basis:
- I wash everything in the dishwasher (no hand washing)
- Using (and washing) old silverware constantly seems to keep it from getting tarnished. It does get a bit yellow over time, so on occasion I go over individual pieces with silver polish, but for the most part, there doesn't seem to be a need for constant polishing if you use it all the time (it doesn't get that near-black tarnish that silver gets if it sits out too long). This is a good thing, since constant polishing will strip away silver plate over time.
Do you like to collect vintage silverware?
Thanks for visiting!
Linking to the following this week....
Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home