Inspiration in silver

I didn’t realise until the past couple of weeks just how much I like silver. I’ve had some tucked away inside a display cabinet for about 10 years. Mostly silver plate, it came from my grandmother’s collection when she died, a few items I picked up after the more impressive pieces were selected by the elder generation.

More recently, my mother is downsizing and offloading a whole bunch of her collection of antiques and ornaments (many of which also came from my grandmother’s house). And so once more I found myself presented with a vast array of shiny pretties.

Silver 1

I have a very small house. Not a lot of storage. I don’t host dinner parties (don’t really have the space or aptitude in the kitchen), although rather enjoy entertaining on a small scale.

Despite this, I kept lifting pieces off my parents’ table and adding them to my pile… silver jugs, vases, a housekeeper’s chatelaine, a candlestick in Sheffield plate (which, to be honest, I think my mother was originally intending to keep).

Here’s why I think silver speaks to me:

  • I’m a metallurgist at heart.
  • My grandmother loved it. I remember her showing me some of these pieces time and again and I associate them with her.
  • Most of the pieces represent a time gone by — such as one might find in a fantasy world. Simply looking at them transports me somewhere else…

Anyway, the influx of ‘new’ silver pieces to my place prompted a thorough clean of my display cabinet and all the silver therein. Here’s what it looks like now.

Silver 3


As a result of my parents’ purging exercise, I have also acquired a retro dinner set and a delightfully mismatched set of cup-saucer-plates, such as they might use for ‘tea’ in Jane Austen movies.

And another entire display cabinet to put everything in.

Add to that some silver cake forks and teaspoons… and I’m now well kitted out to host a regency-style afternoon tea.

I haven’t declared an ‘inspiration of the week’ for quite a while, but I’m declaring my new and rediscovered silver to be one now.

Can anyone else relate to this?? In this day and age it seems a little crazy, but there you go. I can’t stop admiring it.


11 thoughts on “Inspiration in silver

  1. When my grandmother died, I went to Vermont for the funeral, and afterwards my uncle told me I could take anything from her house that I wanted, because the auctioneer was coming the next day. I packed up her set of Franciscan Desert Rose china – don’t know if you’d have that in Oz, but it was hugely popular here in the States in the middle of the 20th century. Anyway, I mailed it all back home, and a couple pieces broke, but friend who does mosaic work used the pieces to cover a box, which I gave to my sister from Melbourne for Christmas that year. It’s funny how things work out some time.
    And the silver is lovely, but where’s the picture of your retro dinner set? Inquiring minds want to know…


    1. Sorry, Liv, didn’t realise I hadn’t responded to this! I’m not familiar with Franciscan Desert Rose china… but (having just consulted google) it looks amazing. It’s lovely to have things our families have used before us — and what a fabulous way to use the broken pieces. Nice your sister could share in the memory too.

      As for my retro dinner set — it’s very, er, green! I actually used some of it last week when I had some friends over for supper. Fun! If I could post a photo in the comments, I would… (Who knows, maybe I’ll write a blog post about that too!)


  2. OK! I’m up for the “afternoon tea” – except for the problem of you being on the other side of the planet…
    Your collection is beautiful. Touching one of those pieces is like touching a time machine. I’m sure some of those pieces will end up in one of your Fantasy stories. Maybe even in the cover art?


    1. They are like time machines… I wish I could read their history like some of my fantasy characters could – heh.

      You’re welcome to afternoon tea anytime. If only matter transporters existed.


  3. Sooo pretty! I love your collection. I don’t have anything as elegant as all that. And the fact that they’re family heirlooms makes them all the more precious. I’ll come have tea with you any day. 🙂


    1. It’s nice to have a corner of elegant – quite at odds with the rest of my house, though, I can assure you. I think ‘heirlooms’ is stretching it too, alas. Maybe one day, but not many of the pieces I have are Stirling silver (silver all through). No real intrinsic value, just history (and they’re not that old either) and a pleasing aspect. 🙂


    1. You’re right – every time I picked a piece off the table I asked mum what its history was… One of the pieces, a small box (not pictured) used to sit on her mother’s dressing table and held trinkets… I’ve put it on my dressing table now. 🙂


  4. Ellen, I could relate to your post! Next time you are around I’ll introduce you to my collection of family silver – also not Stirling silver but full of family memories, some of which I was actually part of and some that are lost with my grandparents passing…But when I open the cabinet and pick up a piece, I remember them. Just little things like my grandmother in the kitchen, helping set the table, sitting in the corner out of the way and chatting. I try to use a piece with dinner or afternoon tea every now and then so that the next generation’s spirit is imprinted into the silver. I’m not sure which of our kids will want them when its time for us to downsize. In the meantime, they are mine to cherish.


    1. I look forward to seeing it, Simone. I love your idea of trying to use pieces every now and then to imbue them with the next generation’s spirit. I am going to try to do likewise. Not all of it is usable, though. Some (like two umbrella handles!) are simply nice to look at. 🙂

      Hopefully one of your kids will express interest. Times are certainly changing and these types of ornaments and artifacts of a past life often don’t have any place in modern homes. Sad.


I'd love to hear from you...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s