Favorite Things: Vintage Silverplate Flatware

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What does a wild bachelorette weekend in South Beach call to mind for you? How could such a line possibly begin a post on vintage flatware? For me, along with the fussy cabana boys and fun late night poolside cocktails to fete my sister-in-law-to-be, it’s going to be these beautiful pieces of vintage silverplate flatware that take me back to Miami, literally and figuratively. That, and cousin Teresa, who swooped in while we were down south last weekend and took my sister and me on a whirlwind excursion that included lunch alfresco at Joe’s Stone Crab and a vintage shopping adventure like none other.

Unforgettable meals are about fantastic company, delectable food, and ambiance—this meal had it all. We had cousin-talk and laughs and succulent salmon-pink stone crab claws with all the trimmings. The champagne and green vintage glasses were brought along in a pretty little satchel from which Teresa kept pulling delights for us like Mary Poppins herself. This girl could author a how-to guide on making cousins feel special.

After lunch we went to an antique fair that is a regular thing down there, every other week in season vendors come from all over with their wares. Our exploration was a feast that could compete with the lunch we’d just devoured: vintage Chanel clothes, handbags a-plenty, a silver cuff bracelet with rose quartz cabochon I wish I’d splurged on. But the best of it was the tableware, the silverplate that came so cheap it made me wonder if something was wrong, knowing how pricey the new—albeit matching—stuff is. My sister bought a couple of serving pieces at $25 each and Teresa clicked her tongue as she moved us along to other vendors selling similar stuff for $1, $4 per piece. You barely needed to sort through it to grab beauties.

Sometimes you don’t want everything to be all matchy-matchy, and that same sentiment can hold true at the table. Mixed media can be so lovely. Try a day antiquing somewhere to see what you can find; I’m just sorry you won’t have Teresa with you. She knew the primo vendors and took us directly to them, no dilly-dallying at lesser stalls. The antiquing runs deep in the family, with many of my aunts on both sides of the family with stellar credentials, and of course my mother too.

You can also buy vintage flatware online. I like it by the pound here, where they remind you that you can cheaply outfit a gorgeous table for a big party without going plastic.

Some cousins, upon reading this, will think me a braggart of the whole situation, and they will be quite right about that.

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  1. Jane says:

    You’ve written about one of my weaknesses, Maureen!! I love old silverplate — I find it irresistable. In my kitchen, I have a small pitcher filled with maybe 20 different silverplate spoons found on my “junking” expeditions. I discovered most of them at a thrift store near Charleston, for 47 cents each! I use them to stir the cream and sugar into my hot tea and coffee. I also have some long silverplate spoons for stirring my iced tea in the summertime. It’s so cheerful to see the assorted patterned handles poking out of the pitcher at me! I have also heard that one should never put them in the dishwasher with regular stainless steel flatware, as the silverplate will become pitted. Of course, I would never do this with my “good” silverplate, but these old spoons get washed all the time in my dishwasher along with our everday silverware, and they still look just fine. It wouldn’t be fun for me if I had to worry about them all the time. I figure they must be pretty hearty to have survived all those years, waiting to be discovered in that thrift shop by me. I think they enjoy their new job as coffee stirrers, making my mornings just a little brighter!

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      What a wonderful post, Jane!! Thank you for conjuring the image of your pitcher of silverplate spoons, and the story of collecting them and rescuing them for a higher fate! Dishwasher is key. And now I’m already plotting a pitcher full of spoons in my kitchen….

  2. Karine Keldany says:

    Thanks for the link to https://www.napastyle.com. Great idea to buy by the pound.
    I am also a big fan of silverware. Also runs in the family. My mom owns a beautiful set. I find it trendier to have one of each style. I usually buy my pieces on ebay. Bought many from France. I treasure them. Best way to store silver pieces when not in use, is to wrap them in soft paper and then in a ziplog bags. This helps them stay beautiful and no need to clean them often this way.

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Love the storage idea Karine, thank you! Sounds like you have some great pieces.

  3. Virginia Biggar says:

    Hi Maureen,

    I also recently discovered vintage silver plate and bought my sister a whole set with serving pieces, for a song I mught add. They look fabulous on the table. My favorite spot to shop for it and similar treasure (pie plates and jadite are favorites) is called The Cove in New Bedford, MA of all places.

    Take care!

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      How neat, Virginia! I would love to see the Cove…and will check and see if they have a web site. I drove past the Menzi house today, all beautiful in the snow. Thanks for your comment!!

  4. Selene Schulz says:

    So where did you score the beautiful hardanger piece?

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Hi Selene–that came from a big bin in one of the antique stalls at the fair…I will find out who the vendor was, but my selection of that piece was random!!