hotel silver flatware

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First of all, yes- I know you want to see "reveal" photos, and I promise I am working on that... I have two new cameras- one a fancy SLR that I have yet to figure out how to use correctly. I am going to take some tutorials classes at camera shop in a near-by town, but as of now I am just not happy with the way my rooms turn out on "film!" So,I have decided to stop procrastinating with my blog, and start showing you some of my many collections and small vignettes from around the house

shall we blog on?!!!!

In 1995 we were at the Expo Show in Portland, Oregon and I spotted this little Los Angeles Biltmore hotel teapot and fell in love!! At the time we had a house (and shop) full of sterling silver pieces, which eventually were all sold once we fell hard for hotel silver! I didn't know why I was so drawn to this piece with it's big ding and orange-peel surface (that's the term used to describe the tiny pits in the silver), in fact my exact words to Dan were "I don't know why I love this piece... I just do!"
And thus, a collection was born!!

There is beautiful European hotel silver, but early on we decided to collect only American hotels. We also decided to collect older pieces, turn-of-the-century to 1940's/50's. We initially collected teapots and creamers as they were easy to find, and then later moved on to trays, large bowls, champagne buckets and flatware. While we collect all hotels some of my favorites are the older Biltmore hotel pieces.
Hotel "silver" is not sterling silver, but sliver plate. (Do not be fooled, hotel silver needs to be polished just as often as sterling!) The larger Amercan pieces are "silver soldered", and in most cases the piece will be marked "silver soldered", along with the name of the hotel. Some pieces are marked with the year they were made, but generally- as with most antiques and collectibles, you know by "feel" if a piece is truly old. You literally need to touch and handle them to know what the older pieces "feel" like, for example the weight of a piece can help identify it's age- older pieces are generally heavier. The typeface of the hotel name will also help to date a piece. The style of the monogram and the aforementioned "orange peel" also help you to know a piece is old.

My personal preference for hotel flatware is the more ornate the better! And one of our rules is that the hotel name must be marked on the piece, preferably on the front. I have generally purchased multiple individual pieces, as opposed to place-settings, as I like the way mismatched place-settings of hotel silver look on the table. I use it often at dinner parties, and the first thing everyone does is examine their flatware to see what hotels they are from!

These photos show a sampling of some of the different hotel patterns in our collection.

(some photos enlarge to show details)

I found this collection of gorgeous vintage fish forks and knives (I have 4 more knives not shown) from the Olympic Hotel in Seattle. The knives have silver soldered handles, but the blades are plated and over the years, through use, had worn down to the base metal and were unusable. I bought them knowing I would have to re-plate the blades, but not knowing just how expensive that process was..... I paid only $10.50 per knife and then paid $35 each to have the blades re-plated!! Which lead to a new rule for us... if it's not usable we don't buy it!!

Forks, knives, spoons and soup spoons sit in celery glass and ironstone containers on the kitchen table. Easy access for daily use! My piece de resistance in our collection is the large 27" 1913 Biltmore hotel silver tray! I actually have two of these matching beauties, purchased a year apart from the same dealer.

Other pieces, like ice tea spoons, dessert forks, and serving pieces reside in this, one of my favorite kitchen drawers, along with other flatware collections!

demitasse spoons, teaspoons, butter knife, and
cocktail forks (great for lobster btw!)

I love this collection because we get to use and enjoy it every day!