Vintage silverware is like Queen Marie-Antoinette’s fanciful dairy in the French countryside. The farm provided her the simplicity of nature sprinkled with the sumptuousness of court life. Similarly, vintage silverware delivers the practicality of function as well as the artistry of decades-old designs.
Vintage and antique silverware comes in an array of patterns that bear witness to the design trends of their time. Patterns were ornamented with grapes and vines, edged with elegant scrollwork, finished with slimly tapered handles, and more. Silverware styles followed the general aesthetic trends of such design movements as Victorian, Edwardian, Art Deco, Danish Modern, and beyond.
Modern silver collectors have an advantage over their forerunners, as they’re not bound by past rules of silverware usage dictated by the Edwardian era’s socialites. They would have fainted at the idea of mixed-and-matched silver cutlery patterns. But today’s modern collectors mitch and match patterns together to create unmistakable charm. The more patterns, the merrier, I say. No one will turn up their nose at such daring as they would have in decades past. What is more, mismatched silverware is a must-do for shabby chic décor.
At GasLamp, there are many patterns available to mix and match so you can celebrate every meal. Our antique dealers’ fine flatware collections include vintage and antique silverplate, sterling silver and other metals. Here’s a sampling.
HISTORIC AMERICAN SILVER
Many silverplate collectors seek antique flatware produced under the mark “Wm Rogers & Son,” whose founder was William Hazen Rogers, who lived from 1801 to 1873. A highly regarded American silversmith, Rogers led his brothers and son to create hundreds of silver patterns for silver, silver-plated cutlery, and serving dishes. Since Rogers’s career was long and included his formation of several companies, the silver marks on his works can feature slightly different names.
This Wm Rogers & Son piece, a dinner fork from the 1940 silverplate flatware pattern Exquisite, features scrolling at the edges of the handle and a tiny flower at the tip ($7; Booth B-512). It is a great design to mix and match with other flatware that features foliate handles.
This Wm Rogers & Son soup spoon belongs to the Grand Elegance pattern, which debuted in 1959 and is sometimes called Southern Manor by collectors ($5; Booth B-512). Multiple dainty flowers trim the formed handle, along with vine-like scrolling. Grand Elegance’s decadent design will blend in with other heavily ornamented patterns.
ONEIDA’S LADY HAMILTON PATTERN
Only in my wildest dreams could I imagine wearing a wedding gown that matches my silverware, but in 1932, when Oneida introduced the Lady Hamilton pattern of silverplated flatware, some lucky woman could as seen in this ad. How chic is that?
The modernist design of Oneida’s Lady Hamilton pattern made it one of the longest-lasting patterns of Oneida’s high-end silver plate under its Community Plate mark. This silverware pattern has an Art Deco feel, as seen through the handle’s series of overlapping arches, a common motif of Art Deco. (A designer added these arches, in gold, to the skirt of the coordinating wedding dress.) This design will complement a variety of dinner settings.
Oneida’s Lady Hamilton pattern, which this dinner knife at GasLamp represents, wasn’t produced during WWII when Oneida ceased manufacturing flatware ($4; Booth B-512). After the war, Oneida made it again until the 1950s, emerging from WWII with a popular ad campaign featuring the artwork of a sailor hugging his girl. The tagline was “Back home for keeps.” It is one of the most successful campaigns in American advertising history.
THE FAMILY SILVER
One of America’s oldest silver brands, Towle Silversmiths, has roots in 1690 to a small colonial silversmith in Massachusetts. Towle continues to be rated among the world’s finest silverware, sold alongside such iconic patterns as Odiot Demidoff Sterling Silver Flatware, designed for the teenaged Prince Nikolaievich Demidoff, and Acorn designed for Georg Jensen in 1915 by Danish artist Johan Rohde.
For the collector who wants to get serious with a true heirloom, this spectacular Towle sterling silverware set includes eight four-piece place settings and three serving pieces in the King Richard pattern ($2,400; Booth B-218). Towle Silversmiths introduced the King Richard pattern in 1932, and it remains among the most collectible flatware patterns to this day. Designed by Ferdinand Poppenhauser with fine details of scroll and shell work, the pattern was named after King Richard of England. It will infuse any table setting with pomp and grandeur, plus it is a magnificent heirloom to pass down for generations.
These pieces are a mere sampling of what is in store at GasLamp, where vintage and antique silverware embodies timeless designs that transcend the centuries. It is easy to fall in love with antique silver, knowing it will create a well-appointed table for your guests. So, visit GasLamp today to peruse hundreds of antique and vintage patterns.
Product photos by David Wariner. Header photo by Debby Hudson for Unsplash.