Francis I by Reed and Barton

An explination of the origin of the Francis I pattern by Reed and Barton

  

Francis I by Reed & Barton

Francis the 1st by Reed & Barton
Francis I by Reed & Barton

 

Francis I pattern was introduced in 1908, after 3 years of design work by Ernest Meyer. His goal was to emulate the design work of a chief court artist and sculptor for King Francis I of France, Benvenuto Cellini. The pattern is in the Renaissance-Baroque styling, displaying 15 fruit and flower designs, paying tribute to Francis 1st throne entrance in the year 1515.

 In figure one, you will see the old maker’s mark of Reed & Barton signified with an Eagle, a Lion and the letter “R” accompanied by the word sterling. The old mark was made prior to the 1950’s, after which the maker’s mark changed to “Reed & Barton” accompanied by the word sterling.

Maker's Marks by Reed & Barton
Maker's Marks by Reed & Barton

Francis I pattern by Reed & Barton has been one of the most recognized and collected patterns:  Known as the pattern of presidents and princes. In fact Eisenhower, Truman and Wilson were among the many leaders who collected this very pattern!

Burgundy, introduced in 1949,  is the sister pattern of Francis I that has less intricacy that can be paired to make a beautiful less busy set. Below is a picture that can be used for comparison.

 

Burgundy Handle by Reed & Barton

Checkout all of our other patterns by Reed & Barton at:

 Beverly Bremer Silver Shop

 Beverly Bremer Flatware Patterns

 

Do you have any patterns that you would like to know more about? 

Please comment and we will be happy to post more information on this website!

History of Reed and Barton

A brief history of the origins of Reed & Barton Manufacturing Co.

 A History of Reed & Barton

Reed & Barton manufacturing company dates back to the founding of a jewelry shop in 1822 in Taunton, Massachusetts by Isaac Babbit. The shop later turned its focus to pewter in 1824, where Babbit worked on innovating his materials and developed Britanna Metal, a combination of tin, antimony and copper, making a material more lustrous and white than pewter. After Babbit gained popularity with his craftsmanship and quality, two designers, Henry Reed and Charles Barton, partnered with the business. The company began to experience hardship and Babbit sold the company and factory in 1834 to Reed & Barton.

Taking their knowledge of crafting and innovation, Reed & Barton produced “in the metal” flatware and holloware, meaning that raw unplated pieces were sold to plating factories. They maintained this practice until the discovery of the Comstock Lode in Virginia City, Nevada in 1859, making silver widely available in raw form in the US.

With their knowledge of creating raw metal goods and recent fame, they soon created and cast the first Reed & Barton sterling pattern, Flora, circa 1890.

Sugar Shell in Flora by Reed & Barton
Sugar Shell in Flora by Reed & Barton

A focus towards more sterling patterns in holloware and flatware such as Francis I led them to great success as an American sterling producer.  For example, among the most popular patterns was a Francis I sterling silver 7-piece tea and coffee service and tray. Maker’s mark of Reed & Barton, Taunton, Massachusets: Comprising a tea kettle, teapot, coffeepot, cream jug, covered sugar bowl, waste bowl and tray; the tea service pieces with baluster form bodies, chased with fruit, blossoms, and foliage, with cornucopiae enclosing a vacant cartouche on either side, the shaped oval tray with bracket handles and conforming decoration.

7 Piece Francis I Tea & Coffee Set by Reed & Barton

In the 1996 Olympics, hosted by Atlanta, Reed & Barton was chosen as the designer and creator of all the medals for the awarded athletes.

Gold Medal Designed for 1996 Altanta Olympics
Gold Medal Designed for 1996 Atlanta Olympics

Currently, Reed & Barton is known as the oldest independently owned American producer of sterling flatware and holloware patterns. They have expanded into other divisions of tableware including stainless steel, crystal, china and even plastic ware; They are also the world’s largest producer of wooden chests. Despite changes in leadership and economy, living by the motto of high quality pieces and excellent customer service, Reed & Barton has been able to thrive for more than 185 years.

 Would you like to learn more about Sterling Manufactures?

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What is The History of Buccellati?

Buccellati History and Sterling Silver Pattern Productions

In response to a question asked by a collector of Buccellati Esteval, Beverly Bremer Silver Shop has composed a brief history of Buccellati including more specifics about the pattern and its future.

Buccellati

In the Beginning of his career, Italian Goldsmith Mario Buccellati (1891-1965) carried on a family tradition dating back from the early 18th Century. In 1919 he opened his shop near the La Scala Opera House in Milan, and was the first among Italian Goldsmiths to to open a shop on Fifth Ave in New York and later in Palm Beach. As his popularity gained, his clientele came to include the Vatican and the Royal Courts of Europe, leading to his nickname, “The Prince of Goldsmiths.” Mario Buccellati drew upon the work of the Renaissance and Eighteen Century craftsman for design.

Mario’s son, Gianmaria Buccellati, became apprenticed to his father at the age of 14. Following his father’s death in 1965, he expanded the business and opened new shops around the world. Gianmaria became a leading designer of jewelry, as well as silver and gold objects dart. The quality of Buccellatti’s product was a a direct result of Gianmaria personally choosing his master craftsmen to execute his designs.

Esteval

Specifically, the Esteval pattern was named after a famous Villa in Portugal, designed with Classic Italian nature inspiration; introduced around 1920 and was continuously produced until 2001. Buccellati retained most of the global distribution rights for their sterling flatware patterns as well as much of their holloware pieces.

The production of Estaval was last carried out under Gianagelo Pradella. He was considered the best silver producer in Italy. After his retirement he closed the his factory and the pattern was no longer produced.

Since the closing of Pradella’s factory, Gino Buccellati of Bologna has started replicating patterns over the past 6 years, reintroducing Torchon and Borgia. He has recently been working on others to reproductions, Esteval being a likely choice of interest. Unfortunately, the dies that are needed to reproduce patterns take a very long time to complete and perfect. Hopefully in the future we will see more quality flatware coming out of Buccelatti and Italy.

 

Common Patterns Include :

(click the link to see what we have in stock)

References include:

  1. Joseph P. Brady (Silver Historian)
  2. Tim LeRay (Previous Executive Vice President, Buccellati)

Do you have questions regarding sterling silver patterns or serving pieces?

Please comment and we will investigate an answer!

What is the history of the silver butter dish and how is it used?

An brief insight into the development of the sterling silver butter dish, answering the origin of how circular butter dishes came to be.

Butter in America

Cost and perishability combined, gave butter luxury status on the 19th Century table. In rural areas of the United States, women commonly made butter at home for their family’s consumption and for sale to the city’s grocers. This practice continued long after the advent of factory produced butter in the 1860’s.

In Early 20th Century, the standard for farm and factory production of butter was molding into one pound circular cakes, which measured roughly four inches in diameter. Butter dishes were usually designed to conform to the round shape and featured an ice chamber with a pierced liner, which served to keep the butter above melting ice (figure 1).

Butter Dish Liner (figure1)
Butter Dish Liner (figure1)
The use of a specialized butter knife (figure 2) helped to prevent individuals from plunging their own used knives into the main butter source. Shaping butter cylinders into curls, lead to the introduction of the butter pick (figure 3). Butter picks were specially made to retrieve one curl at a time, without breaking or dropping the delicate serving. This practice can still be found on tables in restaurants and homes, bringing a touch of exquisiteness to any meal.
Master Butter Knife (figure 2)
Master Butter Knife (figure 2)

Butter Pick (figure 3)
Butter Pick (figure 3)

Butter has always been apart of the dining experience. Today, using any knife, we use a foil wrapped piece of butter to season our accompanying side dishes. The butter dish is a piece of art that is a marvelous collectors item, guaranteeing hundreds of years of elegant use with a table setting.

Reference:  Joseph P. Brady (Silver Historian)

Do you have questions regarding sterling silver patterns or serving pieces?

Please comment and we will investigate an answer!

Can my Sterling Silver be Repaired?

A detailed account of how a stelring silver fork of Old Master by Towle is repaired by an expert silver polisher.

Today we take a look at the processes involved in turning a Old Master fork mashed and beaten by a drain disposal back to its original state.  At Beverly Bremer Silver Shop we employ two highly skilled polishers, who together possess over 36 years of experience!  I will take you step by step through the process of fixing one simple piece of sterling silver flatware, a salad fork.

Step 1:  A customer comes into the store shopping as usual and during checkout she asks about fixing a fork that she had brought with her.  Sara, a sales associate, takes the piece and looks it over and tells the customer that she will ask the polishers to see what they can do! 

The Old Master fork pictured below, is handed to Haile, a veteran polisher, who is asked if he can fix this disposal damaged fork?

He responds with confidence, “Yes, I can fix this, as the pattern on the handle has minimal damage!”

Step 2:  Haile moves quickly to his work bench where he asseses the damage.  In a moment, he pulls out a plastic tool that resembles a small pipe, slowly and carefully he reshapes the tines to make them straight enough to hammer out into shape. 

 
 Step 3:  After the tines have been straightened by hand, he manipulates the rest of the imperfections using a plastic hammer, working on a molded spoon shaped piece connected to a vice.  To watch his quick hands make the malformed fork into a perfect piece of art again, was a sight to see.  Meticulously he fixed the outside dents and dings by working each piece of metal.  In just a few minutes the fork began to take a recognizable form.
 
 
Step 4: Using a polishing wheel with several assorted brushes and waxes, Haile works out the minor dings and scratches again, moving so fast that his hands seem to be flawlessly one with the machine.  The damage on the fork slowly disappeared until all that was left was the resin from polishing. 
 
 
Step 5:  Finally, he buffs the most lustrous metal in the world into a perfect shine, flawless and beautiful.
 
 
Step 6:  Sara picks up the fork from Haile in the polishing room with only 7 minutes of elapsed time.  Sara thanks Haile with a big smile and he responds, “No problem Sara!”
 
 
From beginning to end, the skilled expertise of the polisher using his tools led to a near perfect product of what was once scrap metal.  If you would like to know more about fixing your sterling silver pieces, please feel free to contact Beverly Bremer Silver Shop to talk with a member of our expert staff.
 
Beverly Bremer Silver Shop
3164 Peachtree Rd NE
Atlanta, GA 30305
800-270-4009
404-261-4009
 
 

Fish and Visitors: The Fish Slice

An history of the developement of sterling silver fish slices around the world.

Joseph P. Brady Silver Shop Historian

There have been specialized types of flatware-the sardine fork, the cucumber server, the hot cake lifter, etc.-made mostly during the Regency, Victorian, and Edwardian ages, but the fish slice (along with its cousins the tart and pudding servers) is among the earliest of such individualized utensils. The eighteenth century laws that helped to enrich already rich landowners, and the Industrial Revolution, which created a rising middle class of merchants and professional people, created a new appetite for silver tableware that was not satisfied with just knives, spoons, ladles and forks. Specialized servers “in the French manner” we desired, and these broad-blade servers led to a revolution of their own at the table. Its form was largely dictated by its special function, yet this noble piece still manage to speak to us of elegance and grace. Saw-piercing, bright cutting, and elaborate cartouches make these blades their natural home.

1
Figure 1

 

2
 Figure 2

 The fish slice, then, is a broad blade or trowel shaped server, most often used for dividing and serving fish at the table, but the earliest examples were used to serve fried fish directly from the pan (fig1). These early servers, circa1740, use the name “slice,” but their blades are rounded and symmetrical. Elaborately saw-pierced, their main purpose was to drain unwanted cooking juices. As whitebait was commonly fried in the eighteenth century home, the early examples where called whitebait servers. More elongated slices, fish shaped but still symmetrical, appeared after about 1745, and these eventually evolved into the a symmetrical fin shape we see most often(fig2). The symmetrical shape still persisted, but such later examples were usually longer and slightly pointed. Further, the most familiar scimitar blade was rarely made before 1800. The earliest known example was possibly made in London, ca. 1780, by Joseph Steward II (pudding and cake servers appeared at the same time).

The scimitar blade made its first known appearance on the Continent around 1780, but on either side of the Channel there is a bit of a gap, from the early 1780s until the early 1790s, during which almost no such examples were produced. The study of existing examples would suggest that the scimitar shape made its return around 1790 and saw steady gains in popularity until, by circa 1800, it had become the preferred shape for the fish slice. The blade recalls the shape of a fish’s fin, but a suggestion has been made that, especially in its more elongated form, it resembles the outline of a headless fish. This would be very much in keeping with the manner in which the fish appeared at the table.

The baroque and rococo style saw-piercing of the earliest fish slices usually covered the blade from side to side, sometimes leaving a border of less than one quarter inch, with more metal removed than retained. A close examination of the scroll work will show, however, the blade is not at all weakened and the holes are quite strategically placed. The piercing often featured a cartouche or reserve to be engraved with an armorial device or a monogram. The piercing was often enhanced by bright-cutting, with one or more fish forming a central motif(fig 3); fishnet pattern backgrounds were not uncommon. The more elongated neoclassical slices and fin-shaped examples often featured fish backbone-style piercing, while others were pierced with stars or comma shapes, using a punch. During the latter part of the eighteenth century the blade might also feature a border of classical-style interlocking scrolls.

 

3
Figure 3

 The piercing of Georgian fish slices took two forms. Saw-piercing by craftsman was the only method employed when they first appeared and was used throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, bit the steam-driven equipment introduced by Matthew Boulton and James Watt in the late 1760s resulted in mechanical die fly-cutting. This expensive equipment, however, was afforded only by the more prosperous firms , such as the Batemans in London. Pierced examples in Sheffield plate, although not common, can be found today.

As far as slicing and serving at the table is concerned, however, a question arises: How much of the piercing was functionally necessary and how much was simply decoration? After the mid eighteenth century , was usually brought from the kitchen in a pot and transferred to a mazarine or onto a ceramic fish drainer. Indeed, Rabinovitch says that ” the need for a pierced server…becomes questionable.”

Bright-cutting, rather than saw-pierced, more commonly characterizes the decoration of America fish sliced, but many elaborate pierced examples of coin silver can be found. Chasing of the blade became more common in the Art Nouveau period, and early twentieth century examples were usually left plain.

 Joseph P. Brady

Beverly Bremer Silver Shop Historian

Pie and Cake Servers, The Tasty Truth

Cake and Pie Servers History in Recent Past: Read this article to find out about the origins and fucntionality of this vital utensil.

 
Fish Slice
Fish Slice
Pastry Server
Pastry Server
Pie/Cake Server
Pie/Cake Server
Cake Server
Cake Server

You slice into the fresh chocolate cake, seeing the shine of the silver server glimmering in the low light after dinner,  slicing with the motion your grandmother did with the same server.  You think to yourself how many times she had used this utensil before she gave it to you, forgetting the fact just an hour ago you found out you were having in-laws over for dinner.

Gathering for meals has been a time honored practice that dates back before cakes!  In fact the development of tools such as the cake server and the fish slicer were only developed a relatively short time ago.   Beginning as a rough device made from various metals, this perfected piece has been used for many items besides cakes, in fact it is probably the only utensil you cannot do without.

The use of various metal fish, pudding and cake slices (iron, pewter, silver) is well documented as far back as the 16th century. The English cake-like puddings, both savory and sweet, were abundant and, in fact, dinner time was just as often called “pudding time.” These early puddings, which could be meatless, or which could contain meat, fish or fowl, were the earliest foods to be served with flat-blade slices.  Also, a distinction was made between these servers and general cutlery — They were servers for cooked foods, with nothing near the same sharpness of knives.  It should also be noted that stuffing was also commonly called puddings.

 The fish slice and the cake slice seem to have a common ancestor, or set of ancestors, in the trowel-shaped implements that served puddings. During most of the 18th century, both were of similar form, but the fish slice developed a wide, offset scimitar blade, while the cake slice remained more trowel-like. As the 19th century progressed, the trowel, sometimes flat, sometimes “dished,” became standard. By the late 19th century, American silver manufacturers were offering pie knives, pastry servers and cake slices, all of similar but slightly different form, within the same pattern.

In 1909 Tiffany & Co. was offering a “strawberry shortcake server” in addition to pie knives, pastry servers and cake servers. Straight cake slices were also introduced, with either a flat edge or with saw teeth. This explosion in the number and diversity of all kinds of silver servers, and the increased role of the dining rituals that spawned them, is directly related to the expansion of the US economy from the end of the Civil War until the 1920’s.

The Cake Server is flat and is designed for cutting and laying a piece on its side while removing it from the cake. The Pie and Cake Server has a 1-inch bend that allows for a scooping motion into a pie pan as well as a smooth removal of a slice from a cake as displayed below.

Cake Server Side View Cake Server Side View
Pie/Cake Server Side View Pie/Cake Server Side View

 

 

 

Though simple, without this fine piece, there would be many cake and pie slices being cleaned up from the floor!

 

Quotes to Consider:

An article in Scribner’s, circa 1874, describes a “…cake knife which has a fine saw to its splendid blade, to divide the frosting without fracture.”

The book Savory Suppers, Fashionable Feasts: Dining in Victorian America, by Susan Williams, addresses the proliferation and use of new servers, place setting pieces and etiquette books in social and religious terms: “The publication and instant popular interest in Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species in 1859 only fueled such speculative discussions of the critical importance of manners…”

 SOURCE: Joseph P. Brady Beverly Bremer Silver Shop Historian

What size is my sterling silver flatware: Luncheon, Place or Dinner?

From the late 1800’s through the mid 1900’s silver manufacturers produced their silver patterns with two different sizes of knives and forks for a main course: luncheon, which was the smaller size, and dinner the larger size.  Many people had and used both sizes; luncheon size was used primarily for breakfast and lunch, while the dinner size was used for more formal dinners. Luncheon and dinner sizes remain the standard for English, American and continental makers to this day.

 A size called: “grill” or “viande” was popular for a short time around WWII.  The knives and forks are characterized with elongated handles and short knife blades and fork tines. 

 During the late 1950s and early 1960s, many manufacturers introduced an entirely new size called the “place size”.  This size is commonly slightly larger than the luncheon size, but smaller than the dinner size.  Some renamed their smaller, luncheon size forks and changed only the style of the knife and began calling both the new place size.  To distinguish between the many pieces, the Gorham company often places a small <P> within a diamond on the back of the place forks as well as on the stainless steel blade of the place knife above the Gorham name. 

Place Fork and Place Knife pictured on the left.  Luncheon Fork and Luncheon Knife French Blade on the right.
Place Fork and Place Knife pictured on the left. Luncheon Fork and Luncheon Knife French Blade on the right.

 The many choices have confused consumers for the past fifty years.  You do not need to be confused!  You may determine the size of your set by measuring the knife and largest fork in your place setting.   Place the fork face down on a ruler for the most accurate measurement.  A luncheon fork measures between 6 7/8″ and 7 1/4″ whereas a dinner fork can measure between 7 1/2″ and 8″.  The place size fork measures between 7 1/4″ and 7 3/8″.  A luncheon knife measures 8 3/4″ to 9″ and a dinner knife between  9 5/8″ and  10″.  The place knife measures 9 1/8″ to 9 1/4″ in length.  If you have any questions as to which size you have in your set, you may visit our website www.beverlybremer.com to find your pattern where each piece is listed with a measurement or you may call one of our experts at 800.270.4009. 

 

From top to bottom as follows: Luncheon Fork, Place Fork and Dinner Fork in Strasbourg by Gorham
From top to bottom as follows: Luncheon Fork, Place Fork and Dinner Fork in Strasbourg by Gorham

 

 

From top to bottom as follows: Luncheon Knife Tapered Blade, Place Knife and Dinner Knife Tapered Blade in Strasbourg by Gorham
From top to bottom as follows: Luncheon Knife Tapered Blade, Place Knife and Dinner Knife Tapered Blade in Strasbourg by Gorham

 Many people who have a luncheon size set add dinner knives and forks to their set to offer flexibility in entertaining.  Likewise, people purchase extra luncheon forks for use for buffet or for dessert service paired with a dessert spoon and set at the top of a dinner plate. 

Luncheon, place, dinner, or even viande your silver should be used and enjoyed every time you set your table!  The value of your set can increase  10 times every 50 years- even with everyday use!

 

A History of the Epergne

There in the center of the dining room table, framed by two Corinthian column candlesticks with leaf-clad bypass branches, was a Georgian epergne.  Its shell feet and foliate scroll legs rose to support a wide open skirt of garland swags.  Eight scrolling arms held, alternately, hanging baskets and circular plates, and a saw-pierced column supported a boat-shaped center basket.  The large center basket and the smaller hanging ones overflowed with beautifully-arranged flowers, while the plates displayed arrangements of small fruits and berries (the tiny toothpicks holding the fruit and berries in place made it quite obvious that they were not intended to be served that evening.)  The epergne provides a great theater for the silversmith’s craft, but were my host and hostess aware of its original use?  Of course they were.  They were both serious collectors of Georgian and Early American silver.

By the eighteenth century entertaining had developed into a grand art, and the English epergne can claim a strong link to seventeenth century France and the great changes in manners which began with the French Court.  This revolution greatly affected the silversmith’s output, and led to many of the articles common to the twenty-first century table.  For example, foods that had previously been eaten from a common bowl with either fingers or bread came to be eaten with spoons and forks from individual plates, and by the late 1600’s there existed different plates for different foods.  Further, individual chairs replaced benches at the table.  Before the close of the century silversmiths found themselves making large matching services for their aristocratic patrons.  A new emphasis on decorating the table led to the development of the centerpiece.

The earliest ancestor of the epergne was the surtout, a center tray holding casters, salts, oil bottles, etc., made in silver, silver-gilt, gilt bronze, ceramic, and combinations thereof.  A closer relative, introduced a bit later but which coexisted with the surtout, was the fruitier, and it usually replaced the surtout toward the end of the meal.  The fruitier was a tiered centerpiece with bowls for sweetmeats, which sometimes held sugar casters.

The word epergne is taken from the French epargne, meaning economy, and originally bore the more anglicized spelling aparn.  The English epergne economizes in two ways.  First, in the saving of precious space:  The prevailing custom of service at the time required that much of the food be put on the table at once.  Guests entering the dining room found the food in place, usually in covered entrée dishes (the dishes sometimes made with a hot water chamber), one or two kinds of fish, and one or two soup tureens.  Further, around 1760 it became fashionable for the host to carve the bird or joint of meat at the table.  The second way in which the epergne economized is that it made for the thrifty use of rare nuts, fruits, condiments, and other luxuries from the tropics or the East.  Guests would serve themselves from the epergne, and delicacies that were not eaten were left on the centerpiece, rather than being wasted when the plates were cleared.

Records show that the epergne first appeared on the English table around the 1720’s, but there are no extant examples from that period.  An inventory of Whitehall, circa 1725, mentions an “aparn containing one table basket and cover, one foote [sic.], four salt boxes, four small salts, four branches, six casters, four sauce boats.”  The earliest epergnes were large and elaborate, with a wide center column, often with heavy cast feet decorated with masks, supporting detachable arms with flat plates, hanging baskets and candle sockets.  Examples in the rococo style were still great in overall size, but light in look, with more pierced decoration.  The last quarter of the eighteenth century saw epergnes in the neoclassical taste, and examples with silver frames and glass bowls appeared around 1770.

There are references to silver epergnes in eighteenth and early nineteenth century Virginia. For example, the inventory of the estate of General Thomas Nelson of Yorktown lists a “Silver Epergne weighing 92:19,” and Richard Corbin of Laneville purchased from the London jeweler and goldsmith Richard Davis “an Elegant Epergne wh Branches and Large Bason [sic.] at Top.  Thomas Jefferson gave a glass epergne to Martha Burke Jones when, in 1809, she married John Wayles Eppes.

Epergne in the rococo taste, sterling silver, Maker’s mark of Emick Romer, London, circa 1763
Epergne in the rococo taste, sterling silver, Maker’s mark of Emick Romer, London, circa 1763

During the Georgian period many foreign artists and silversmiths emigrated to England, and these foreign-born “English” silversmiths left their mark on the history of the epergne.  One such example is Emick Romer, who was born in Halden, Norway.  He was apprenticed in his native country in 1749, and emigrated to London in the 1750’s.  He appears to have entered his first mark in Goldsmiths Hall circa 1758.  

 

Epergne in the neoclassical taste, sterling silver, maker’s mark of Thomas Pitts, London, circa 1789
Epergne in the neoclassical taste, sterling silver, maker’s mark of Thomas Pitts, London, circa 1789

A talented English-born silversmith known for his fine epergnes is Thomas Pitts.  Pitts was apprenticed to Charles Hatfield on December 6, 1737 and turned over to David Willaume II, son of a prominent French immigrant silversmith, in February of 1742.  His freedom is recorded in 1744, although he does not appear to have registered his first mark as an independent worker until 1758. 

 

Epergne, sterling silver and glass, in the neoclassical taste, maker’s mark of Matthew Boulton, Birmingham, circa 1808
Epergne, sterling silver and glass, in the neoclassical taste, maker’s mark of Matthew Boulton, Birmingham, circa 1808

Matthew Boulton’s Birmingham, England, factory, the Soho Works, produced epergnes in both sterling silver and old Sheffield plate.  These pieces usually combine silver or silverplate with glass, and are in the later, more architectural version of the neoclassical style.

 

The Victorian period saw the epergne relieved of its grand position of server.  The “new” style of serving, service a la russe, saw each course brought in separately, leaving more room for the display of flowers.  The late nineteenth and early 20th centuries saw a brief and limited revival of epergnes in the rococo and neoclassical styles, with some very good American examples made by the Gorham Company.  Still, these were intended for use as decorative objects, not for serving. 

Though a lot of epergnes must be viewed today behind the glass of museum showcases, there are, fortunately, many in private hands that are still brought out for special occasions.  I would love to take nutmeg offered by the outstretched arm of an epergne, or be served my dessert from its center basket the way our ancestors might have been, but I’ll settle for enjoying the beauty of the object and the lovely flowers arranged in it.

 

Joseph P. Brady

Silver Historian, 2009

 

References:

 

Bayne-Powell, Rosamond, Housekeeping in the Eighteenth Century, John Murray, London, 1956

 

Blair, Claude, editor, The History of Silver, Macdonald & Co., London & Sydney, 1987

 

Brady, Joseph P., “The Epergne,” Silver Magazine, November/December issue, 1997

 

Davis, John D., English Silver at Williamsburg, the University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville, 1976

 

Flanders, Judith, Inside the Victorian Home, W. W. Norton & Co., New York & London, 2006

 

Grimwade, Arthur G., London Goldsmiths 1697 – 1837, Their marks & Their Lives, third edition, Redwood Press, Ltd., 1990

 

Hughes, Bernard & Therle, Three Centuries of English Domestic Silver, Frederick A. Praeger, New York & Washington,  1952

 

Stein, Susan R., The Worlds of Thomas Jefferson at Monticello, Harry N. Abrams, Publishers, New York, in association with the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, 1993

 

Wyler, Seymour B., The Book of Old Silver, Crown Publishers, New York, 1965

 

 

Silver in the Dishwasher? Of course!

Silver in DishwasherOne of the most frequent questions we are asked is “Can I put my sterling in the dishwasher?” OF COURSE YOU CAN!

Sterling silver flatware may certainly go in your dishwasher.   We do recommend a few modifications to your typical washing procedures to make sure your silver stays as bright as the day you bought it:

  • Rinse your silver under the faucet before you put it in the flatware basket.  This removes remnant food particles (particularly damaging substances like vinegar, lemon, or salt!) from your pieces to prevent any marring prior to the wash cycle.
  • Keep your silver flatware separate from any stainless pieces as they can scratch your silver.
  • Use a SMALL AMOUNT of detergent–and one with no lemon or citrus additives.  Pre-measured tablets tend to have too much.  A tablespoon (not even filling the cup designated) is plenty to clean your silver and dishes, while not causing them to yellow.
  • You may leave your silver in the dishwasher to dry with its drying cycle.  Opinions differ on this, but it is safe to do so.
  • KNIVES: If your knives are old–pre-World War II– wash them by hand.  Knives are formed from two pieces, the silver hollow handle and a blade.  The heat from the dishwasher can melt the resin used in older knives to seal the two pieces, causing your knives to break apart.

If your silver is turning yellow… you could be using too much detergent.  The bleach in the detergent may cause the discoloration.  Polish your silver to remove the yellow coloring and use less detergent next time!

So use your silver everyday!  And let your dishwasher do the work for you.