Instagram @ fortheloveofahouse

Thursday, February 25, 2010

hotel silver flatware

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!


  1. Hi Joan, Your collection is gorgeous and the information fascinating. I love learning new things. I so love the display in front of the fireplace - it looks so cozy and inviting. In fact, I think I'm going to invite myself over for tea! xoxoTrina

  2. Hi Joan - I'm glad you are inside blogging and not outdoors, shoveling snow!! We are getting a deluge of rain, as mentioned. The hotel silver tea pot is so beautiful. It is one the nicest I have seen. Wonderful collection of flatware you have too! Looking forward to see the photos of your rooms, once you're up to speed with your new camera.


  3. I think I'm about ready to fall over! Your kitchen table vignette is just beautiful. Your silver collection is amazing. So much history all under one roof now. Thanks Joan and yes, we would all love to see more.


  4. I just purchased a hotel silver tea pot and came across a hotel silver spoon at the Salvation Army 2 days ago. I had to smile when I saw your display with the silver tray and silverware in various glass and ironstone containers as I have almost that exact same thing sitting on my kitchen island right now!

  5. Show them your champagne buckets!

  6. Love it!! Hotel silver is a favorite of mine and I love seeing it used Great post!
    xoxo Pattie

  7. I love, love, love your hotel silver! And I love that you purchase different patterns and then mix and match it all! So pretty!

    Kat :)

  8. Oh it! I've wanted to start a hotel silver collection for years...I need to get started, you've managed to gather some really beautiful pieces.

  9. Oh Oh Oh. Love it all! So shiny so gorge! And you bet your peepers I was cranking my neck trying to look around the room in the vignette piece!

    Way to build up excitement...holding out on us with pics ;~P

    Do I need to come up there with my camera???!!

  10. Be still my silver plated heart!! Joan, your collection is absolutely lovely and i love your table display.

    I too hate the way my photos come out. Feel free to share what you learn in your class.


  11. So, so happy to read your post! I love the story of how you began to collect hotel silver. "I don't know why I love this piece, I just DO"!! Oh those words sound familiar. Hard to believe it is almost spring again and then summer - maybe we will be sucessful at a visit this year!

  12. This was a fabulous post - SO interesting! I love all of your collection and what a fun story how you began collecting. Your photos are beautiful and you have quite the exquisite collection. Thanks for sharing - I look forward to seeing more ~

  13. Well, I think it was worth the rescue! What a lovely collection! Just right for everything!
    Even if you do not use it all the time, you have it when the time presents itself.

  14. I would sell my children for a full boxed set of those silver fish knives & forks Joan! The legendary Omni Parker House in Boston still uses some of their original old hotel silver. Next time I'm over I'll meet you for high tea in Parker's restaurant & we can drool together over a slice or 3 of Boston Cream Pie!
    Millie ^_^

  15. have made my day! Hotel silver, marble...the TWO-LIPS! I just learned so much and like Millie...would consider selling my children for a collection like that. OK...not really. :) I never run across hotel bums me out as I truly think it is divine. Great post and I'm glad you have decided to drop the "perfectionist" thing and just get on with it. I cannot relate to that at all (oh yes I can!). I just ran through a bunch of your pictures again...soooooooooo, soooooooooo, sooooooooooo lovely. Insanely lovely!

    Got snow??!! :)

  16. Indeed, and then less polishing! Just beautiful. Lovely to find you, look forward to reading along!

  17. Hi Joan and Dan,

    So glad to see a post, I have missed you blogging. I understand that you want everything perfect to show us here in blogland, as I'm sure it will be. Found your story so interesting and your silver is gorgeous. Fantastic to have something so beautiful but also useful. Better go as it's very, very late here.
    Take care.
    Tasmania, Australia

  18. Oh Joan, what a magnificent collection... with such meaning and sentiment. I too love the mismatched look... I've only gotten as far as collecting pretty silver teaspoons and cake forks. You have inspired me! A-M xx

  19. Love the collection. I started collecting Hotel Silver a while back and now that it is the "in" thing the cost has skyrocketed. I miss the days when it was easily found and affordable. Show more!

  20. What a great collection! And nice styling on the photo with the tray! I have had that, "I don't know why - I just love it." thing happen to me too. :)

  21. Hi Joan- Hope you are well!

    Loved seeing your collection and knowing that you've got "rules" that sometimes get made up along the way. Doesn't it make it fun to go on the hunt?

    Perhaps my favorite? The "show them your champagne buckets" comment.

    Please SHOW US!!!

    Stay warm-

  22. Hello Joan,

    this is a wonderful collection!Congratulations!
    And the thing I love most is that you are using it every day. You're right, I do too.
    My grandma used her beautiful silver cutlery only at Christmas day,when all the family was around the same table. But I think life is so short and we have to enjoy beautiful things of life every day because every day can be a special one! Francesca-Italy

  23. Well, this is the definition of eye candy! I'm drooling. I particularly love your champagne bucket.

    Thank you for sharing your good taste and gorgeous blog with the world. I'm now a follower!

  24. totally and completely jealous of your collection!!!!

  25. I was so excited to discover your blog as I am as crazy as you are about antiques and old things. I have been collecting antiques for almost 25 years now. My collections and interests have changed over time but some of my favorites are, european baskets (especially French purses), ironstone, Hotel silver, candlesticks, wrought iron, breadboards, treen (especially old bowls), books with great old leather bindings, pepper grinders, and anything that catches my eye. I will definitely follow your blog. Love it!

  26. Your collection of silverware are fascinating! I love it!
    Silver MLM

  27. I love your silver! I wish I could better see some of the hotels you collected for your flatware. You have a beautiful eye. Thanks for sharing your inspiration.

  28. Hi, just found your hotel collection today and love it. I've just started my collection of hotel silver and the few pieces I have aren't in near the fine condition as yours. Could you share your tips on scouting out the better conditioned pieces. Of course I'm not looking for like new condition, I adore the look of previous use. Though haven't been able to find pieces with any reflective quality left....which your pieces have. Your pictures are lovely. I did luck into a piece at a thrift store... condition was bad and from a an old beautiful hotel that was destroyed years ago. I had to have it regardless the condition. Hoping my acquisitions will someday be as lovely as yours.

  29. Of course I love this post! I am always scouring for a good silver find, especially hotel, but harder to come by down here in Texas than I'm sure up North.

    How do you keep yours clean? Does it dare go in the dishwasher?

  30. Subscribing to this post for follow-ups!

  31. Addy- We use Wrights Silver polish (it fact I need to do the flatware on the dining room table;) I personally wouldn't put it in the dishwasher. Honestly I think it is a pleasure to wash the pieces and read the names of the hotels and wonder about all the people who used them... but I'm wierd that way!:)

  32. Joan, I am inspired by you and your posts each time I read one. I now have all of these things I want to start collecting, but lack all knowledge of how to do it the proper way (ironstone, hotel pieces, ginger jars --and so many more-- all so beautiful!). I was in a local antique shop, looking around, thinking "hmm, what would Joan do?". i have so much to learn! :) I believe i live quite near you - would love to know your favorite local antique shops!

  33. I have a teaspoon with the letter "S" on the front and "The Springs" on the back. How might I identify the hotel, club or restaurant that the spoon came from?

    1. Anon- If I were to look at the spoon I could tell if the spoon was antique/vintage or mid-century. Generally that is determined by the style/design of the flatware. (i.e. Hotels in the 60's used hotel flatware, but it all looks like it is from the 60's!) If you think you spoon is older, I would first google "The Springs" and then click on "images" to look for antique/vintage hotels as that is when hotel silver was purchased and used. The key to your search is the "The" part of the name. I found several "Springs" hotels (i.e. Banff/Bandon Springs Hotel), but only a couple (one was obviously new, so that wouldn't be it) that included 'The'in the name. I found "The Springs Hotel" which was built in 1869 and burned down in 1917 and stood on the actual site of the Battle of Gettysburg’s. It takes a little detective work!

      I should also add that even after researching, you sometimes really can't tell for sure where a piece came from. Sometimes a guess is as close as you can get! Good luck!

  34. Joan,

    Two questions: first, we're traveling to NH this thanksgiving you give tours of the house? Secondly, do you put your hotel flatware in the diswasher? Thanks!!


Welcome! Thank you for leaving a comment; you have no idea how much your comments inspire me to keep writing- I appreciate each and every one. Comments are moderated by me prior to publishing on the blog, so if you don't see your comment post immediately it will be posted as soon as I receive and read it. joan