The Story Behind this Blog

Being from the South, Silver is a very big part of my life. It doesn't have anything to do with wealth. Although those with more money - old money, tend to have more of it. New money tend not to spend their money on Silver. They do not have the appreciation for the warmth of the metal, the beauty of the patina, the story it tells of the generations past who have used it. A true southern girl comes of age when she chooses her silver pattern, long before she chooses her mate. If she is smart, she chooses that of her mother, grandmother, or favorite great aunt who in their benevolence will pass their silver on to her. It is the pieces in those sets, the pieces on our tables, along with the pieces we find in the corners of the displays in antique stores that prompted me to start this blog. They are beautiful, they are odd, but what are they, and what in the hell do you do with them?

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Sterling Silver Flatware and the White House

If you ever get invited to dine at the White House you would expect to have sterling flatware at your place - well not so much now. (But I'll get back to that later.) 

In the 1860's Mary Todd Lincoln chose the Josephine pattern by Gorham (1855) to use at the White House for entertaining.  

Mrs. Grover Cleveland (in the the mid to late 1880's) selected the most formal sterling pattern used at the White House. It was a vermeil pattern (I do not have the pattern's name) by Durgin. The pattern was made with gold inlayed on the silver, with the engraved eagle and beaded edge.  The knives had mother of pearl handles.  This pattern continued to be used for State Dinners through the Obama administration. (And I assume for the first State Dinner of the Trump administration.) (I could not find a good example to show here.)

During the Coolidge administration (1926), the White House adopted Minuet (1925) by International Silver. It is a more simple design than both the vermeil or Josephine patterns.

In 1974 Pat Nixon chose the Kings Charles pattern by Gorham. This pattern was based on the original King George pattern that dated back to the 1800's. The pieces for the White House service were cast in the original 1894 casts. King Charles is a rococo design. 

While the Bushes (41) continued to use the King Charles pattern in the White House, they added Gorham's Chantilly pattern to service on Air Force One.

The Obamas tended to use the King Charles pattern for luncheons and more informal dinners. For State Dinners and more formal functions Michelle Obama chose to use the vermeil pattern.

Then we come to the current administration - the Trumps. Apparently, keeping with his "Make America Great Again" slogan, President Trump has recently committed to commissioning a new flatware service for the White House, a Liberty Tabletop Flatware pattern from the Sherrill Company. (The exact pattern has yet to be be chosen.) According to the President, the Sherrill Company manufactures the "last flatware made in the United States". However, they do not manufacturer sterling silver, nor is it silver plate. Sherrill only manufacturers stainless steal. Yes, State dinners at the White House will now feature stainless steel flatware.

Personally, I take issue with this. First, there are already several (American made) sterling silver patterns already commissioned for the White House - since the 1860's. Second, being a southern reared girl, no decent dinner table is set with stainless, much less a state dinner at the White House. But most of all, I'm not sure sure where the President got his information. Anyone can look it up and see that currently eight of the top sterling producers still manufacture all their sterling silver flatware patterns in the ol' US of A. This includes Reed & Barton, Towle, Gorham, Wallace, International, Kirk Stieff, Tuttle, and Lunt. 

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