Sunday, January 6, 2013

What's Your Silver Pattern, Dear?

(Left to Right) Faneuil, King William,
Hamilton, and Hampton by Tiffany & Co.
Martha Stewart Weddings
The first week of the new year is always depressing. The shiny decorations have to be taken down. It's back to business as usual at work. Clothes everywhere seem to have shrunk virtually overnight.

But one person is blissfully oblivious to the malaise around her: the new fiancée. She basks in the rainbow glow cast by the carbon crystal dangling on her finger, which she periodically thrusts under our noses for closer inspection. Not that we are envious or anything. Well, maybe a tad. It is really sparkly.

Over the next few months, happy women and their bored-but-dutiful menfolk will descend on Crate & Barrel, Macy's, and Target. Lists of coffee makers, stock pots, and chef knives will be drawn up. The men will be handed scanner guns and, while their future brides are momentarily distracted by blenders, will register for camping equipment and Tide. "Because we need Tide," they will helpfully explain to bewildered faces later.

Today, everything from video games to tropical vacations is fair game on bridal registries. But you won't see many silver patterns. Silver has simply gotten too expensive. And besides, modern couples want useful gifts. Silver, which must be washed by hand and polished periodically, is considered hopelessly impractical.

Still, some women wouldn't dream of getting married without registering for silver. Most of them, it seems, reside in the Delta. Open the pages of any issue of Southern Living, and you'll see tables set with patterns like Francis I, Chantilly, and Fiddle Thread, sometimes all at once.

Strasbourg by Gorham and Francis I by Reed & Barton
Southern Living, March 2012
In many families, allegiances to certain silver patterns are as fixed as those to Chi Omega and the Crimson Tide. But for those of us not born into a Rose Point or Buttercup matriarchy, picking a silver pattern can be a tricky proposition. We may ask ourselves, "Is this salad fork really me?" Luckily for us, the silverware-based horoscope in Marilyn Schwartz' A Southern Belle Primer can tell us whether we are a Chrysanthemum or an Acorn.

Marilyn Schwartz can help you predict  whether you'll get
along with your future daughter-in-law based
on her answer to the not-at-all strange question,
"What's your silver pattern, dear?"
When the Merry Husband and I got married, I decided on Tiffany's Faneuil, a pattern that would nevah evah make Schwartz' list of approved patterns. The name seemed a fitting tribute to the Merry Husband's adopted hometown of Boston, and the shape reminded me of Tiffany's iconic knife-edge solitaire. Although silver didn't make our registry list either, my sister (always the traditionalist) gave us a cake knife and server as an engagement gift. Since then, I've been picking up pieces of the older, heavier stuff from eBay, Replacements, and Beverly Bremer. This year, I'll be cutting back on my clothing budget so that I can add a piece or two a month to my collection.

19 comments:

  1. We inherited two lovely sets of silver flatware from grandparents (mine and his). I'll pull it out and use at the slightest provocation. Actually you CAN put silver in the dishwasher; just don't mix with your stainless as it's bad for the stainless. But the more you use your silver, the less it will tarnish and the better it will look.

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    1. Good to know - I've always been afraid to put mine in the dishwasher.

      It must be so nice to have not one but two sets! I'm sure it looks beautiful on your table.

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  2. Well you have me wondering - my silver is inherited from my mother - one set sterling silver and one silver plated. I need to do some research! I love china and silver and love to set a nice table - makes it feel special!

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    1. If you need help identifying your patterns, you can email a photo to Replacements. Here's the link for more info: http://www.replacements.com/silver_dentify.htm

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  3. I had a set of oversized, extra heavy flatware before I got married. Then I learned my husband doesn't like heavy silverware, which is odd to me since he is 6' tall and athletic. But whatever works, our favorite is some Oneida stainless that's the good size and weight for us. That's funny about the silver pattern test, probably some truth to it. ;)

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    1. Oneida makes great stuff. I have a set of Michelangelo that I just love.

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  4. Oh how beautiful, I asked for ordinary plates and cutlery - I know my limitations! Still, now I would love a set but mum gave everything away when she cleared out the big house.

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    1. If you look around the second-hand stores and online sites, you can sometimes find a set for a reasonable amount. The old stuff is often much heavier and of better quality than the new stuff anyway.

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  5. You're a wonderful writer and your silver is the same pattern as my mother and my aunt's so, new BBFs? :).

    I did a post back a ways about silver buying and repairing, based on an interview with a silversmith in San Francisco. He agrees with you - the old stuff is much heavier and better. He also counseling that most dishwasher soap will pit your silverware a bit. I don't care, I throw it all in there anyway since I don't even have any stainless:).

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Lisa, thank you so much for stopping by and commenting! I found your blog last year - I landed on your post on pearl strand + pearl studs. I have been hooked ever since.

      I think I missed your post on silver. Off to look!

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  6. Your writing style is wonderful. It made me feel quite warm and toasty, and brought a big smile to my face - no mean feat when you consider I am typing this curled up on hard and slightly broken chair, sitting by a window which won't close properly on the cold January night, in a strip-lit doctors' office during the lull in my night shift!

    This post really struck a chord with me. A year into being engaged, still quite diamond-struck by my ring and intermittently high on love, I have been thinking about our wedding list and really, truly, all I want for our wedding presents is silver cultery. I am quite happy eating off hand-me-down plates, drinking out of supermarket glasses and cooking with our old student pans, but I can dream for hours about the romance of starting our married life with some family silver of our own.

    Being me, this is what I want:
    http://www.langfords.com/silver-old-english-cutlery
    - second-hand, hand-forged, Old English pattern, with a history which is not yet ours, but I hope we might be able to add to. Of course what I'm expecting is egg-cups and a crockpot (and very welcome they would be too), but we can all dream, right?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Thank you so much for your kind compliments. Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! Exciting times for you and future Mr. ofpinsandneedles.

      The pattern you have your eye on is lovely indeed. Yes, fortunately for us, dreams are free - and a lot of fun. :)

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  7. Oh c est tres interessant !! Et votre blog est tres interessant aussi!!!!


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    Bonne semaine!!

    xxx Maria xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Merci, Maria! Joyeux Noël et bonne année!

      Delete
  8. I inherited two sets of silver, one in a pattern called Mount Vernon made in the first decade of the 20th century by Whiting, and another named I have no idea, from the 1890s or so. Both originally belonged to my great-great Aunt and Uncle who left it to my mother. I've added to the MV service over the years at antiques shows, Replacements, and eBay. It is for 12 and has eight pieces per place setting (?) and every imaginable crazy serving piece in it, asparagus tongs, ice cream spoons, citrus spoons, pickle forks, three different sizes of meat forks, a muffin fork -- you name it. In addition, over the years I've built out a large service of fiddle and thread ca. 1850-1870 that I started accummulating thirty years ago in a stall on Porobello Rd in London. Now its bigger than the MV service. On top of that we have numerous boxed sets of fruit forks and knives, a silver gilt dessert service, carving sets, and it goes on and on. We call the jam-packed sideboard in our dining room "the Vault." Then there are the silver candle sticks, candelabra, trays, sets of mint julep cups, salvers, covered serving pieces, cigarette boxes. Most of it, with the exception of the candelabra and a couple of the serving trays are sterling. It's really rather crazy, and I'm actually rather embarrassed about it all. Reggie

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    1. As always, Reggie, I stand in awe of your collection. Amazing.

      I was unfamiliar with the Mount Vernon pattern, and looked it up. What a gorgeous pattern! Even the back is beautiful!

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    2. Oh dear, I mean Watson's Mount Vernon pattern, not Whiting's. I can't keep these things straight, it seems!

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  9. Situated at the fringe of short distance to city, Sant Ritz at Potong Pasir (Singapore) in District 13.
    the interlace condo

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wow! I find superb collections of antique silver flatware. I really liked these collections of vintage silver forks, silver flatware. If you are looking to more designs of antique silver hollowware visit Sterling Silver Tableware.

    ReplyDelete

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