Monday, February 17, 2020

Decorate And Entertain With Silver Tea Services

Antique silver tea services are not only beautiful to look at but still can be used and enjoyed, if not everyday, at least for special occasions and holidays. Plus with the slow and steady return to elegance in decor and entertaining, people (yes even the millennial's) are leaning more to sophisticated yet comfortable traditional spaces. 

Once a status symbol of the dining room, silver tea services have been resigned to the scorned and rejected attics, garages, and other storage areas or simply gotten rid of at yard sales. That is all about to change. So if you have put great grandmother's silver service away, by all means go buy some tarnish remover and get to work. Bring the gleam back into your dining room, kitchens......whatever room you want to display it. Rules have relaxed so use it where you enjoy it most.

Tea was first a medicinal drink in the Orient with the earliest known recorded use dating back to the Ancient Han Dynasty 206 – 220 BC. A drink of sailors, drinking tea was considered low-class during much of the 17th century. Tea eventually became more and more popular, making its way into different parts of the world through trade. By the late 1600's the English became crazy in love with tea. Although they were passionate about this beverage, drinking it like the Chinese was unacceptable. Brewed in and drank from the same vessel with leaves actually floating around in the bowls was more than the English could handle. First they turned to porcelain tea pots to brew in and cups to drink from.

It wasn't until the reign of George II in the mid 1700's that English and French silversmiths began making silver tea services.

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The natural properties of silver cause heat to be retained. Thus tea brewed in a silver teapot will stay warm much longer than tea brewed in pots from other materials.

Tea was brought to Europe by Dutch and Portuguese traders and as it became more and more popular so did the silver tea service. However, tea sets were only owned by those wealthy enough to afford the tea which was quite expensive to drink. Records indicate that one pound of tea was worth $100.

It was under Queen Victoria's reign that the modern six piece tea service was first introduced.The complete set included the kettle, teapot, coffee pot, sugar bowl, creamer, and waste bowl. These tea services were found in all the parlors of affluent society.

Lanhydrock House

The taking of afternoon tea was quite the trend now. Thanks to industrialization less expensive, silver‐plated teapots were now available for the middle class so they too could serve tea in style.

Silver tea services became works of art as they were embellished with engravings, embossed patterns, and monograms.

Ashford Castle

A silver tea service was cherished by it's owner as it was a symbol of their wealth and social standing. 

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With dinner parties and hosting making a comeback, a sterling silver tea service is once again a desired addition for any dining table.

Now is a great time to buy sterling silver tea services since the prices are still affordable. I have seen the prices rise quite a bit in the last year. So glad I bought mine when I did. I bought two at auction for far less than one set is now.

Lisa Farmer-Eye For Design

This is the silver tea service in my dining room. I like mixing elegant and rustic pieces together.
Southern Accents Magazine

A tea service is recognized as the highlight of a good silver collection.

Jane Ellsworth Interiors

When it comes to silver tea services there are MANY different style to choose from. During the 1800's and 1900's services were produced in Rococco, Baroque, Chinoiserie, Renaissance, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Gothic , you name it, it was produced. Doesn't matter which one you prefer a good set will never lose it's luster!

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Maybe you indulge in high tea each day or enjoy entertaining alot and use you silver tea service regularly. 

A silver tea service is the perfect touch when celebrating family and holiday gatherings, bridal showers, and other special occasions where it's just fun to dress up the table a bit more than you normally would for your guests.

Or maybe you just like to display and them admire them for their beauty and craftsmanship.

I think it is wonderful if your silver tea service is nothing more to you than eye candy.....something to please you every time you pass by. I know I sure enjoy mine that way.

So if you are interested in buying a silver tea service, what should you look for?

Always look for the best sterling or silver plated services your budget will allow. Realize that some minimal wear is to be expected because of age especially to plated pieces. A tiny nic or flea bite won't hurt but just be sure the set is largely undamaged. Make sure the patina is good and look for beautiful and unique designs and shapes. Most important, buy what makes you happy. You will know it, it's the one you can't imagine walking away from.

Learn to identify marks as most services will have one. This will also tell you if it is sterling or quadruple plate.

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Now, where do you find a silver tea service. Of course if you have deep financial pockets you should visit a high end antique store or auction house. However there are many beautiful services to be found at estate sales, on-line auctions, EBAY, ETSY, antique malls, yard sales and Craigslist. Many times assisted living facilities have auctions when no one claims a residents belongings upon their deaths.

OK, now you have the silver tea service and what beauty it brings to your antique buffet. But won't it just tarnish and look awful and require alot of work? Yes, it will tarnish due to humidity. And if you are not interested in the time it takes to have beautiful will be a burden to you. But if, like me, you love to surround yourself with fine antiques from decades past, you will enjoy polishing the silver with a soft cloth regularly so it's shine remains and maybe using a silver polish a few times a year to make it really gleam for special occasions. I don't find that too exhausting for the beauty it brings. It's worth it to me.

With regular and proper care, most silver pieces will stay beautiful for years and years of Holiday decorating and entertaining.

Via Pinterest

When polished, silver tea sets simply gleam in the light.

Look for ornate carvings which bring out the beauty of the silver metal.

Tammy and Duncan Cox on ETSY

So what is the favorite silver tea service pattern?

In 1895, famous Gorham designer, William C. Codman, designed the Gorham Chantilly Grand sterling silver tea set.The pattern was created in a Louis XV style and while there are many patterns, all with varying degrees of popularity, none of these patterns are as enduring and desired as Chantilly which remains treasured for its elegant handle and central engraved cartouche inspired by the French Rococo style.

Christmas entertaining is the perfect time to use a silver service. They are so bright and festive.

Even if you just decorate with them, the gleam of a silver tea service, with it's ornate feet, swirling motifs, and beautiful handles and detailed tops, just makes a Christmas vignette sparkle!

Start your own collection and Holiday tradition and then bring out your favorite tea and cookies to share.

It is fun to have a casual collection of silver that can be put together in different ways to create a tea service. Things don't have to be matchy matchy today so mismatched teapots are actually stylish.

If you like silver teas services but are not interested in using them in a formal setting you are in luck. Rules have changed and anything goes as far as vignettes are concerned.

Today a silver tea or coffee pot is considered a lovely and unique vase.

Even succulents become an elegant display when planted in a silver tea service.

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Antique silver tea services retain their value well, and are always in demand since they are classic. A silver tea service will bring you great joy and is something you can pass down to your children and grandchildren.

A silver tea service will add timeless grace and a sense of tradition to all style interiors. They might fall out of favor occasionally but never go away for long. The dress and hairstyle of the homeowner might be different when they make their comeback but the admiration will still be the same. I hope this post has inspired you to join the thrill of the hunt and find one for yourself.

Another silver item that has gained in popularity is the silver meat dome. Click to visit blog post about them.

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This blog post was published by Lisa Farmer

In the event that I have not credited the correct source of an image, please contact me at and I would be glad to correct it.
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