Old Silver Pieces Add Elegance To Holiday Table

As seen in The Antique Shoppe Newspaper, December, 2004,

Tiffany and Co., reticulated, sterling basket. c1902-07 Courtesy of Skinner Auctions, Boston, MA.

Now’s the time to polish up not only your old silver odds and ends but your creativity. And, there is still time to go hunting in shops for unusual pieces to add sparkle to your holiday table as decorations and to use.

Don’t be afraid to mix and match for special interest. Many items long out of fashion from salt dips to figural bird salt and pepper shakers can be combined with floral arrangements.  An old silver punch bowl can be used as a  centerpiece surrounded by a collection of miss-matched punch cups. While 19th century sterling examples cost several thousand dollars, consider silver plate. After all, who will know unless they turn it over?

Another collecting tip; start collecting baby cups that still turn up reasonably priced in silver plate and use them as punch cups.

A single interesting silver serving piece can also be a great stocking stuffer, especially if it has a Tiffany signature. It can be a bit pricey at around $400 or more. Less expensive are the Victorian silver plate serving utensils for around $50.

Instead of plastic or china hors d’ouvres plates, look for silver and silver plate butter plates. Not matching.  Consignment shops are a good place to look.

Small trays offer some of the best buys. Made in a variety of shapes, they may have been used in the 19th and early 20th centuries to hold everything from calling cards to passing sugar and cream. Foot fed trays (salvers) can show off Christmas cookies or fruitcake.

CLUES: Name silversmiths such as Tiffany, always cost more, unless you make a discovery. remember, silver doesn’t have to be 19th century or earlier to be collectible.

Look for the stylized designs representing different periods, such as Arts and Crafts and Modern(1940s-50s). You’d be surprised at how many people think a piece is sterling when it is silver plate. Remember, if it is 20th century and says anything but sterling or is marked 925, it is silver plate. The best silver plate is marked “quadruple plate.”

Best find opportunity is the Victorian era. After all, they had a serving piece for everything from asparagus to fish. Often the blades were as ornately engraved as the handles.

Souvenir spoons with their figural handles, depicted everything from Betsy Ross to the Statue of Liberty. They were teaspoon size and could replace the teaspoons on your table. They were made of sterling and silver plate. They are probably one of the cheapest forms of antique silver on the market. Depending on the subject the price can be from $20 to $75 in sterling. Less in silver plate. Once one of the hottest collectibles, alas they are out of fashion these days.     

Also out of fashion are fish and fruit place settings. Popular from the early 19th to mid 19th century they consisted of a knife and fork. Many were made of Sheffield silver or had pearl handles. Again, mix and match. A set can cost $100 or less.

Pieces made for uses other than dining can still be at home on a Christmas table. They can be reasonably priced if the seller views them as out of fashion and only as they were mean’t to originally be used. Good example would be Victorian silver boxes made for the dressing table. Another would be the long glove boxes that could hold raw veggies. Boxes for pins and soap could hold garnishes. Some of these were made in the shape of tables.

When it comes to decorating tables for the holidays anything goes.

If you have any questions, you can Email us at antshoppe@aol.com

The Antique Shoppe
"Florida's Best Newspaper for Antiques and Collectibles

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