Hotel Silver

I am a big believer in living with beautiful things, and using them as often as possible. I grew up in a household where entertaining happened often - on a formal and informal scale. My husband and I, like my parents, love to entertain, even if today’s recipe for that tends to be more of a pot-luck, very casual and last minute gathering. 

Over the years, we have accumulated quite an assortment of what is known as hotel silver - essentially, a copper composition covered with a heavy layer of soldered nickel silver that looks and feels like sterling silver, which was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries,. Used primarily in fancy hotel restaurants (think of grand ones like the famed Plaza Hotel and The Biltmore), as well as private clubs and passenger ships, these silver sets were expensive at the time, but necessary to provide an elegant yet heavy-duty tableware for patrons. Today’s collectors of hotel silver especially love to research and identify the names and logos on serving pieces and flatware, which indicate the name of the establishment to which they belonged.

What I like best about hotel silver is its beautiful patina. Sure, many of my pieces have significant wear marks, but the allover effect is one of grace and beauty. And because I so love the history of objects, I treasure my collection because in my mind, there is no doubt that my odd assortment of creamers, pitchers, teapots and coffee pots - from establishments far and wide - have been privy to untold intimate conversations, political discussions across the decades and even centuries, and business deals big and small. Just think if they could talk, what stories we might hear! Alas, in the meantime, I can simply enjoy them for their attractiveness and usefulness... and that's just fine with me.

- Marianna