Hunting and Gathering - a detective story

Friday, January 14, 2011
I do not tell you something new when I confess I absolutely love beautiful (vintage) china and silverware. I have collected over the years here and there small beauties, mostly flea market finds and the occasional garage sale treasure. A few pieces I have been given at my wedding, some is luckily inherited. In the last years I have been to Brooklyn to a particular dingy basement shop and began looking through drawers filled with semi antique silverware, I just love those old patterns, art nouveau, art deco, some mid century modern. I love Meissen and Spode, Limoges, Wedgwood, Johnson Brothers, old English transfer ware, Polish country treasures from Boleslawiec, just to name a few.

I have begun to replace my old every day china, which we bought years and years ago at Bed Bath and Beyond. It's a plain white setting where now all kind of cracks and missing pieces tell the story of living with children and daily use.
With my handy tools eBay and Etsy I found wonderful pieces, which I added slowly and now have enough for a dinner party from four to eight people. Some plates came to me from Chicago, some from Minnesota others from Florida. This alone intrigues me, if only they could talk! How many parties they have seen and who sat at a table, set with these lovely plates! Now here they are, lovingly brought together and hopefully staying together for a long long time!

This is Spode/Copeland, the Gainsborough or sometimes called Malborough pattern. I so love these beautiful soft flowers.

At one of my hunting trips in Brooklyn I came across these beautiful spoons and after polishing them they revealed a lovely pattern and since then we have been using the almost every day.

I have learned a lot. This round soup spoon style is called a Gumbo spoon. Gumbo spoons are used for thick soups with large pieces of meat and vegetables. Like bouillon and cream soup spoons, these spoons generally have round shallow bowls
I loved the pattern, but did not go so far as to figure out the whereabouts.
Then a few month later I picked up this lovely pair of silver ware.

Now I was hooked and decided to find out all about these patterns, makers and history.
There is inlaid, silver-plated, IS, many terms which meant little to me. There are different soup spoons, 5 o'clock spoons, master butter knifes, lunch knifes and cake forks...After looking through pages and pages of old silverware offers on eBay and Etsy I found out a lot of interesting details!
The Gumbo spoons above have the ENCORE pattern. It was made by the Simeon L. and George H. Rogers Co. /Oneida in 1934.

I found a few pieces here and there to perhaps add them to my spoons.

I particularly loved finding the fork and knife. The Acanthus leaf pattern is absolutely gorgeous.

It is called Danish Princess (Who wouldn't like that?) and was made by Holmes & Edwards. The Bridgeport, CT based company was founded in 1882 and 1898 bought by the International Silver Company. This pattern was produced in 1938 and was afterwards discontinued.

I had no idea what little treasure had fallen into my hands for $2!
I began searching for this pattern online, started to compare quality and prices and settled on bidding on a particular fine set in an amazing vintage box! Prices for those vintage sets vary wildly...
It makes me feel good to re-use something so beautiful.

Anyway, after a rather nerve racking bidding finale a few days ago I won my first silverware auction. It was still a bargain to be sure and afterwards I was dancing a happy dance in my dining room!!!! Now it's somewhere on ground shipping in this large country on it's way to me!
There are of course now a couple of more things: I have my eyes on cups and saucers for my Gainsborough set for once, a few serving pieces, but the best of all is the gained confidence in knowing what I am looking for on future hunting trips to flea markets and vintage shops around the country!
A helpful site is the The Online Encyclopedia of American Silver Marks. You might be able to identify your silverware better or find out where your treasures were made.
Both above mentioned companies were by the end of the 19 Century bought by the International Silver Company.

Victoria, wishing you all a happy weekend!

Images as indicated, silverware in box via eBay, all others by V.Zlotkowski


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